Is there chauvinism in the cultural & family dynamics of caregiving?

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This is just an observation. But, I have noticed by reading many of the posts here, it seems that there are very few men involved in the caregiving of their parents or professional caregivers that are men. I commend the men who I have read are involved or directly taking responsibility for their elderly family member. But, I've also noticed many of the male siblings don't seem to give their sisters the help or support the so badly need taking care of mom or dad. What's up with that, and should we encourage change?


I saw your topic. You are incredibly insightful. I notice the same thing, both on this site and in my personal life. My brother has walked away from any responsibility. The only time he was here was to get money.
I think there has historically been chauvinism in caregiving for family members, particularly the elderly. It was always the daughters - or daughters-in-law - who were given the responsibility of caring for the loved ones, and, oddly, the SONS who were given the financial power-of-attorney. Perhaps this started back in the days when the men were out working and the women stayed home and raised the kids. Then when the kids were grown and gone, it was time to care for the elderly grandparents. I know my grandmother took care of her mother; my mother took care of HER mother and now my sisters and I take care of OUR parents. Doesn't mean the SONS don't feel free to criticize everything we do. My brothers both live on the other side of the country from our parents, and might visit for a day or two once a year - IF they have some business reason to be in the area. God Forbid they should prepare a meal or wipe someone's butt or tuck them into bed while they are there. But they sure are full of opinions about how their sisters could be doing the job better. I really let one of my brothers have an earful the last time I saw him, and we haven't heard from him since. But I know when it comes time to settle the estate (my folks have named ME as the executor) they will be FULL of opinions about how THAT should be done.
This is, unfortunately, true. I am so glad my husband is different. He is not here on this site and many male caregivers would not show up here either. Men tend to not want to complain online or share personal feelings online. My husband has helped me for years to care for others in our home and this includes his own parents. It regularly brought tears to my eyes to see how tenderly he cared for his mother. She was not able to walk well in her last year and then became bedridden. He would carry her to the toilet in his arms, stay with her, and wipe her. He was happy to bathe her, clean her dentures, change the bed linens, etc. He does the same for everyone we keep here (4 right now) and is so good at it. He has brothers and the older one was helpful but the others were not.
I'd like to share the exception.

While I was caring for my dad at home my brother didn't help at all and would even say, "I don't know how you deal with that". I thought he should be helping me more but it never occurred to me to ASK for help. He's not a mindreader. Looking back, I wish I would have asked.

My dad eventually went into skilled care and little did I know that my caregiving would not end. It was different now. One day I broke down in tears to my brother, explaining to him everything I had to do regarding our dad's business affairs, the Medicaid application and necessary documents for that, and I told my brother that I couldn't even visit dad without half the staff jumping on me the second I got there wanting this piece of information or that document. I just cried and cried. My brother had no idea all of this was going on and he jumped in that very second and lightened the burden. Now we work like a well-oiled machine together. He takes care of x, y, and z and I take care of 1, 2, and 3. We talk several times a day and it's brought us much closer. I was always crazy about my little brother and now I consider him my very best friend. Yes, we've had our differences of opinions. We've had days when we couldn't stand to talk to one another but we always work it out. He's been a great sounding board and confidant. Now that my dad is very close to death we talk about 5 times a day, we share how our respective visits with dad go, talk about any new concerns, and we are planning the funeral and obituary together. Neither one of us makes a decision without the other one's opinion and at the end of my dad's life we've had to make some difficult decisions.

Actual caregiving, the down and dirty part, may not be up my brother's alley but we've learned what the other's strengths and weaknesses are and proceed accordingly.

I'll never forgot how he stepped in when he realized the stress I was under. I wish I had given him the chance to help me sooner.
caregiving may not by tradition be a male roll but our nurse today strongly implied that ( based on my gender and appearance ) my mothers decline might be more involved than i bargained for. there is no way that her observations arent sexism. i can do anything that ignorant hor can do and literally hundreds of more complicated things. sorry if i sound a little pissy tonight but her kind of thinking will soon be outdated. in the meantime men have hurdles to overcome. my mothers condition may deteriorate to the point she needs full time institutionalized care. it may indeed get to be too much for me as my sucky sisters dont help one bit, but it will be up to mom and i to decide , not outside forces.
I'm always happy to point out male chauvinism. Women do the caregiving because they have the babies and traditionally nursed and diapered them.

But there's a story in my family about my newborn brother's first poopy diaper, which horrified my mother and her mother. My father, who had welcomed a baby brother at age 16, stepped right up and handled it with assurance. (He was not one to pass up a chance to assume a starring role.) He was also a wonderful cook. He was also rather sexist.

My sister-in-law, a woman, is so germ-phobic that I don't know how she raised a daughter, but she did. There are nearly as many complaints about good-for-nothing sisters as there are about brothers.

Capnhardass, we all know you can handle any challenge that arises. You hit the nail on the head about the two people involved being the ones to make the decisions.

(DO you have a beard, shaved head and tattoos? That poor dumb nurse was intimidated, that's all.)

PS: How did you know she's a hor? Did she give you her card?

oops. thats my default term of affection at times. the important thing is i never let her intimidate me. theres nothing to hide here.
Eyerishlass - I love this story, and think your brother is so awesome. I wish I would have had a brother like that! You are blessed.🌺🌻🌺
It does seem that women do most of the hands-on caregiving. I don't know if it is chauvinism or not. It may be that women are more comfortable with the role than men are. Or it may be that more elders are female than male, so sons are not as comfortable caring for them. I have noticed men giving care in the community, but often the mothers are in AL or NHs. The sons do many things for them in the facilities, such as taking them to church or out to eat. When I see these things, I wonder if it is not perhaps the best way to do things. Everyone seems so much happier to the outside world. The elders have friends in their communities and the sons are able to continue working and taking care of their wives and children at home. We don't hear from these men here, because few probably feel the need for emotional support.
we dont need no stinkin emotional support. lol

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