(Issue #596) Caregiver or Care Taker?

Caregivers have clear boundaries and limits.
Care takers do not—and the results can be heartbreaking.


In his book, The Anger Solution: The Proven Method for Achieving Calm, and Developing Healthy, Long-Lasting Relationships, John Lee distinguishes between boundaries and limits. Two key concepts, if remembered and employed, will help us construct and maintain healthy personal and professional relationships. If forgotten, they can lead us down the road of regret, resentment, disappointment, and rage.

In short, boundaries show where we begin and end. When clearly constructed and articulated, they let others know how far they can go with us. Like a solid fence line. If, however, they are more like a picket fence (an example Lee uses) we may find ourselves too accommodating and let transgressions through our comfort zone. They can lead to ill feelings and behavior outbursts.

Limits tell others just how far you will go. Healthy and clear limits do not leave people guessing about what you will or will not do. That could lead them toward regret, resentment, disappointment, and rage.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

In the second half of his book, Lee makes an interesting distinction between caregivers and care takers. For instance. a son acting as a caregiver for his father provides comfort, shelter, a listening ear, and a helping hand. He enhances his father’s life and wellbeing assuming that he, the son, understands his own limits. That is, just how far he (the son) can go to help and remain healthy himself. As Lee states, “If we stay true to our rhythms, we know how long we can visit our parents without falling into odd, destructive conversations and patterns. We know when to seek solitude to recharge our batteries….” (p. 141).

If we do not pay attention to those limits we risk venturing moving toward resentment and rage. At that point we become care takers.  Again from Lee: “Care takers actually end up taking something out of those they are around—such as their integrity, energy, self-esteem….” (p. 140)

In short, caregivers have clear boundaries and limits. Care takers do not and, consequently, may find themselves overwhelmed with ill-will and seeking “payment” (emotional or otherwise) for their actions.

Rather than giving care and comfort to the person in need, that person is left a little less whole; a little more depleted.


Video recommendation for the week.

A 60-second video reminding us of the difference between boundaries and limits.


Make it a wonderful week and HTRB has needed.

You will find my latest book, Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit, in
eBook ($2.99) and paperback ($9.99) format. Click 

My dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. Please, check out her blog.

And you can still order:

  • Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019print and e-book). Available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at the above link.
  • Stories about Teaching: No Need to be an Island (2017, print and e-book)Available on Amazon. One college’s new faculty onboarding program uses the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos (see the link above) would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

You can find my podcasts (all fifty episodes) here.

You will find more about me at www.stevepiscitelli.com.

©2021. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®
Atlantic Beach, Florida

About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in accountability, boundaries and limits. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to (Issue #596) Caregiver or Care Taker?

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Enjoyed the post with video, Steve.


  2. Pingback: (Issue #605) A Blogger’s Retrospective for 2021 | The Growth and Resilience Network®

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