My Deadbeat Siblings

Started by

I have one older brother. I relocated my mom who is at a chronic care facility closer to me in Maryland. My brother lives about a 4 hour drive away in Pa. I was very angry at him for a long time due to his not at a minimum visiting his mom. All I was asking is that he be there for her as it would so cheer her. Well, he visited about 2 times and now resorts to writing her letters and she writes back. I am no longer angry at him. Why? For starters, my mom loves both of her children and would not want this. Secondly, he was never there for his mom so how can I expect him to be now? I have found that the majority of families have one sibling who steps up to the plate. In my case, I am glad it is me. My brother is not capable of dealing with all that I take on. This does not excuse his failing to visit but he has to live with himself. As for me, continuing to waste time being angry at him is taking too much of my emotions. I prefer instead to focus on my many blessings and at the top of that blessing list, still having my mom. Though our situation has changed drastically and I so miss the times we spent shopping/traveling/etc., she is still here and I still have her so at the end of the day, that matters more to me than harboring anger against a deadbeat brother who is who he is. I think God gives us all different "strengths" and "weaknesses." My mother was always there for her son and never let him down. More than anything, instead of anger I just think of how very sad when folks get older their children sometimes simply "walk away" and don't get involved in their medical care, etc. I could never do this. My mom deserves so much more. Yes, I get tired and sometimes depressed, but I still have my career and I have my mom. So I guess my message is to those of you who are dealing with being "party of one" with caring for your aging parents, perhaps you could walk away from the anger at your siblings and realize instead the positive things they are choosing to miss out on. The time that you are spending with your aging parents you will never get back. Someday they may be the first to leave this life and when that happens, you may hold your head high and know that in your heart, you showed them how much you love them by being there for them. After all, wouldn't we all want the same in return? I always believe in life "what goes around, comes around." Not that I wish bad things to happen to others, rather, there is such a thing as karma and when you give good things out in life, good things do come back to you. Hang tough caregivers! Caregiving is a blessing! It makes us stronger and allows us to "give back" to our folks. That to me is an honor.

8 Comments

You are correct in your observations about one child usally bearing burden. However, if your brother is writing letters to your mother and she writes back, I would give him some points since he is still interacting with her, although not really taking much burden of day to day worries and physical care and responsibility off of you. But, some of us have siblings who have absolutely no contact, offer no financial or emotional support, etc and don't have many valid excuses for an adult child to totally ignore an aging parent who raised them, (perhaps not perfectily but got the job done), other than out of sight out of mind. Most caregivers in that situation would be thrilled if they even took the time to write an occasional letter. Meanwhile, you are right, the more you think about his lack of participation, the more angry and bitter you will be and it probably will change nothing for the positive. If only siblings would recogtnize how little things like writing letters, visiting or calling an aging parent takes some of the emotional burden of caregiving off the sole caregiver.
Way to go, Bonnie. Yes, a lot of us in the same boat:) Perhaps we are stronger, more aware, or maybe some things just work out a certain way. There are givers and takers, watchers and doers. I had anger at my sister because she was the oldest, the favorite, and she did not step up when the time came. But, now I see she really does not have the strength or temperament to handle this responsibility. Yes, we are definitely strong, patient, Blessed and have a strong connection with each other.
You have all the right ideas, but allow yourself to vent and get a break, too. I think the position of Caregiver is humbling, gives one a tempering in the fire, and is a classic tradition in our society, where too often we find superficiality and disposable situations.
In our tired and sometimes over-stressed bodies and minds, it is renewing to know we are giving the best to those we honor:)
Hi Girls,
I agree with the concept of not using your energry to be angry at the deadbeat siblings. It's just a gazillion times easier said that done. Especially when I am caring for TWO of them. I've only read of one other person on this site that has the same situation. I'm sorry, it's just not the same. If they were in a care facility, I could rest better, but they cannot afford it. So they have me; that's it. One with dementia and both with constant physically maladies. And do my siblings EVER call me to see how I am doing? Never. That really hurts. So I hate them because they took the easy route. Plain and simple. Spent the entire day in the hospital with my mother yesterday. I have a company to run and a family to raise. And where are they? My useless siblings think it is enough to just call them to "check in." That doesn't help ME in the least. But I suppose it makes my Mom and Dad feel good. So It's not about me, I know that. It's just hard to stomach the constant disregard my useless siblings have for me and for that matter, their parents. I mean they can't really understand how bad Mom and Dad are failing because they don't see them. Ever. So get over the anger so say. I know that's right; just not there yet. Not even close.
BONNIE:

I understand the sacrifices you're having to make. Your use of the word "deadbeat" (which to me are synonyms of laziness, loafing, and not fulfilling obligations) indicates you're not angry but resentful. Resentment, however, is much worse than anger because it festers and escalates.

My sons are 31, but I've never expected them to care for me and drop whatever they're doing and come to the rescue. Their primary focus is being able to provide for and protect their own children. I see them four times a year, but we write and call each other regularly.

Calling your brother a deadbeat and nagging him for shirking his "responsibilities / obligations" when it comes to caring for your mother will push him farther away. No doubt he loves her as much as you do, but seeing her in such a frail state hurts too much. Add to that a four hour drive. ... So he writes; and she writes back.

You'd like his help, but sending him on a guilt trip and making him feel "less than" is no way to get it. Write him and without recriminations let him know you can't do this alone. No one should.

-- ED
Ed-
While this is good advice for Bonnie and I agree with it, it is not always going to come out peaches and cream. I DID write to my siblings a few months ago when Mom had recovering from surgery and I had to go see her every day, pick up her laundry, listen to constant complaining, then go see Dad who can't button his shirts or prepare a meal, take out the trash, do the dishes, pick up the meds and so on. It was too much, so I wrote my siblings, said I can't do it anymore by myself. One said, not unless you give me access to their money and the other just out right said, "Not going to happen." So even when you reach out, you may still be alone. Prepare for it. So I wrote them both off. My own children are watching this play out and they ask me, "Where are your siblings, Mom? Why don't they come see our grandparents?" It will all come around and I have no regrets, just a tremendous amount of distain for them.
Bonnie, SS, Ed, et al: one more thing...
If we're on this site, we are doers. Do you think anyone who doesn't care, who doesn't figure even the smallest aspect of "caregiving" is going to relate? If you speak to someone about an activity foreign to them that they are not interested in participating in or knowing about, you get the same response. Blank stare, "Oh", whatever.
"THEY" are not "US".
You can try to recruit, and if they have a conscience, appreciation for the duty, time and the inclination to sacrifice a portion of their life for this unpredictable adventure, then perhaps you will get assistance.
Siblings have different values and abilities. My siblings absolutely KNOW that I am strong, capable, can multitask efficiently, manage others, and still have a warm atmosphere in my home. One is psychologically and physically incapable, the other is weak and manipulated by her spouse.
I think I'm glad to be the one doing the work. After my sister admitted recently she doesn't have what it takes because of her own issues, I can live with that. I get emails of support and appreciation from my brother now, and I am aware of his limits.
We have to be real about this. Keep a level head and get the communication open and unemotional, if possible. I was frustrated until I got honest answers from my siblings. It's hard for some people to admit their weaknesses. We know that.
To All:
I too have sibling issues. Over the last 2 years I have mentally made excuses for them for not helping, have been FURIOUS and RESENTFUL. I do also agree that one shouldn't spend there time worrying about them. They(the siblings) know what they are doing and someday when my mother leaves this earth they will be the ones with guilt not me. But somedays its hard to bury those feelings.I didn't choose this for my gain of any sort. But someone had to be the adult child. I was never close to my mother so in the beginning that was a growing up experience for me to put things in the past. I loved my father so much as I know he loved all his children equally. Out of respect for him, is where I gained the strength to forgive mom for our past problems. Its about the present and future not the past. Its sad that my siblings aren't able to swallow there pride and do the same. Our mother wasn't a proper mother to any of us growning up and has cause my siblings and myself lasting problems in life. Right now my siblings concerns is "DADS MONEY" ,"DADS HOUSE" well dad is gone and has been for 5yrs. They haven't excepted that everything now is moms(my parents were married for 43yrs before he past) They(siblings) are angry that it cost money to maintain moms house(not dads), get moms meds... and the list goes on.. They want mom put in a home. I think they think that its free.. HONESTLY!!!! They think that medicare will pay 100%. Moms small monthly income is still to much for medicaid.
Keep positive or at least try, cause days.. boy, is it hard!
I think of the things I have given up and the things I will not be able to do. But I think of how my life led me to the point. I think God had a plan for me many years ago, I have always been the caregiver personality in my family. Which has led me into some bad relationships. My sister always told me I have "Stray Dog" syndrome. That I will go out of my way to help. Because of this trait. I went into home health care and went to nursing school. Everything has prepared me for this day, to become moms caregiver. Thats where I gain my energy to keep going. Many days when things are bad I somehow gain the strength to go on.. I know its my father and God looking down on me and giving the encouragement that I am doing the best I can.
"I only answer for my actions, not the actions of others"!!!!
Wow Bonnie!
Needed to read your posting this evening. I have 2 sisters that are no help at all. Just came from taking dinner to my Dad's and left frustrated & angry at my sisters, again! Our Mom died 4 years ago- he is lost, lonesome & sad. Other than my husband & kids and one niece who does check in on him occasionally, I can't rely on anyone to help with meals, bills, cleaning, shopping, yard work, Dr visits, medicine. I have beg, pleaded, cried, screamed, emailed, written lists. No one does anything. A while ago I read maybe they just aren't in tune and don't know how to help. How can you NOT know how to help someone? They both received help from our parents...helped out of many messes over the course of their adult life. That's what infuriates me, now they're nowhere to be found when he needs time & attention. . Anyhow thanks for what you wrote, as we pulled out of my Dad's house this evening I started to stop at my sister's home (3 doors down from Dad if you can believe that) and say something rude about ignoring him all weekend, My hub is level headed & of course knew that was not a good idea & he was driving. :) We got home & I got online to email both sisters yet again, asking for them to please pitch in & maybe throwing in a remark aimed at making them feel guilty so they'd help.. instead I came to this website & read your message. Now I haven't wasted my time emailing them. Appreciate you listening. I'm better now. It is kinda nice to know I'm not alone!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support