Siblings won't help -- looking at the other side of this

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I wanted to play Devil's Advocate, but not aim it at anyone in particular. Many or most of us have siblings who are not involved in caregiving, and often don't visit or call. This causes a lot of stress for some people. It bothers me occasionally, but not a whole lot that my brothers aren't involved. Maybe it is because we all made our own choices on this.

When my parents became frail, they had the choice of moving into AL, but they didn't do this. They refused to come out to TX to live near me. When they got worse and my life fell apart, I moved here. It worked out well for both of us, since I work from home and they needed someone to help them.

When I moved in and took on progressively more responsibility, it was my choice. My brothers did not make the choice for my parents to stay in their home or for me to move in with them. My parents could have gone to AL.

Sometimes I get very tired and wish I had more help. Sometimes I wonder how children can neglect their parents by not even calling. However, I don't fault them for not being caregivers. Just because I made a choice didn't mean they had to make the same one. And, to tell the truth, if my own life hadn't fallen apart, I would have been one of the absent siblings. So I can't feel too bad about my brothers.

9 Comments

I think if a sibling doesn't want to, or is able to physically help, they ought to be willing to at least, pitch in some money in order to hire some help for the sibling that IS in the trenches. To me that sounds logical.
JessieBelle I don't know if I have mentioned this before but that was/is my Great Grandmothers name. I never knew her but my MOM would always tell me about her when we passed the cemetery she's buried at. She basically was not a Good mother from what my Mom told me and it affected my grandmother... she had social anxiety and her step sister took over wjen they we growing up. My Great Aunt was the opposite tough as nails but a great person. I guess I am bringing this up because we all experience different things in life and some get weaker and some stronger. I have a sister who has rejected reality and makes excuses and treats me unfairly. She is a good mother to her own children, but essentially she's a useless caregiver when it comes to Mom. I just learned to not deal with her useless input and go about Mom's needs. I don't worry about what she should be doing anymore. I know things have a way of working out if you focus on reality and good not the bad.
How good a parent was really does play into it. My parents were unloving and distant. They lived most of their lives as hermits. My father didn't like anyone but my mother. My mother went 10 years without calling me. If anyone called, it was me calling her. They didn't visit us. Each year we would get a birthday card with a check in it. We were expected to come home every year, when we would get another card with a check in it. With such a cold atmosphere, I couldn't really expect more from my brothers.

When I was in TX, I called my mother at least once a week. Sometimes I called every day when she wasn't feeling well. I assumed my brothers were, too. But they weren't.

Sometimes Mom cries about my brothers. It is sad. However, I know that Mom never visited her own parents when they were ill. And she never reached out to people during her life. The chickens came home to roost. She is full of remorse, but it appears to be too late to change anything. You can't manufacture love out of thin air.

It is so heart touching to look at the families who are close. You can always see how the parents have pulled them in as a family. I would love to have a family like that.
I understand what you're saying about helping with their care - it's a choice one makes or doesn't. What I could never understand is my sibs knowing that their dad was very ill but rarely even called, let alone stopped by, to visit with him. They both knew he couldn't drive anymore to get out himself. They both knew he loved to have phone calls or visits. But they were too busy. I admit, it may have hurt me more than dad but really? You don't have time to call and say hi??? Yet whenever he was in the hospital, they suddenly had time for him. Even my dad said, why do I never see your brother unless I'm in the hospital? How sad of a statement is that? Yes, I chose to put an addition on dad's house and try to take care of him as long as I could. That was my choice. But then don't offer to help if you don't really mean it. I'm not looking to help you not feel guilty by you not offering. If you're going to say let me know what I can do, at least once say yes I can do that instead of oh, I'm busy that day so I can't possibly help. Even better was when they would tell me I have a place in heaven for what I've done. Too bad caregiving leaves you with one foot in the grave. To me, they are not family. In my world, family does not treat family that way.
The chickens might come home to roost but an adult child should be mature enough to realize his parents were not perfect and act like an adult. If not to ease the remorse of an aging parent, then to help out a sibling. I think many caregivers would just like a sibling to keep in contact to ease the isolation of caregiving and most would not even expect time or money from them. It will not kill them to call every now and then or send a letter or picture, and particularly offer emotional support for the caregiver, even if there is a bitter past. They might even benefit psychologically from knowing they have broken a history of family disfunction. If they have held on to their childhood issues so long, they can't pretend it isn't still there by pretending the parent or siblings no longer exist.
I think the chickens sometimes do come home to roost, and that is just a fact of life. Is an adult who had an abusive or neglectful childhood obligated or expected to care for their parent as they age? I can't imagine why that would be expected of them. I understand what JessieBelle is saying. My husband has a sibling who is not enthusiastic about helping with MIL. Would it be easier, sure. But I completely get it. My MIL has spent a lifetime being unloving to her child. Why would they want to bring that into their currently happy home?
I have shared before about me being the 'absent sib' ... that is according to my sibs.... not how it was at all.... I did what I could with 'the sperm donor', what would leave me feeling I had no regrets.... I DID take him to Dr's, pick up this, that and the other for him ( he went into AL)... I DID call and go by and visit... the fact I could barley stay in the same room with him with out my skin crawling took all the 'adult courage' I had..... but unlike my sibs, I didn't need anything from him... even to the day he died, at age 98, he never told the sister that sacrificed her health for him, thank you.... she needed something from him he couldn't give... I went to therapy instead and understood my limitations.... and we could never do it 'right' for her anyway.... I did not love him, nor did I hate him, but like JesseBell said, I made my choices, the ones I could live with... I can honestly say, I have no regrets.... and I really appreciate you sharing the other side of the coin JesseBell... it wasn't because I was cold hearted, or didn't care that my sis was killing herself.... I just made different choices....
Jessebell, you outa be proud of youself, be ahppy with your choice, we will get old an i am sure i would want to see and be with at leat ine child, i applaud you, really, you will be rewarded, i know you are not looking to be rewarded, but you will, you will see, bless you.
My life with my parents has really been a quid pro quo. Sometimes the quid and quo gets out of balance, but I know everyone involved has benefited. Often I lose sight of this when things get too hard. I have a feeling that people burn out when things stay out of balance too long. It is too hard to give and give with nothing coming back in. I feel most sorry for people who have a job, children, and are taking care of parents without any help from the parents or siblings. I don't know how they do it. Add to it that the parents or siblings are fighting at them and it is a sure recipe for burnout.

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