My siblings all failed to call parents on Thanksgiving.

Started by

Am I being too picky? Doesn't every one call their parents on major holidays, without fail? My sibs used to be pretty good about this, but they all didn't call on folks birthdays this year, and completely missed Thanksgiving. One grandkid did call (thank Heavens). My parents especially Mom were visibly upset when i mistakenly expressed some hope that "maybe Jon will call if we start eating pie...." (Murphy's law of sitting down to eat, the phone rings).
Should I instead be calling each of the 4 siblings (and the ex-SIL who has custody)? They never call much anymore at all. Oh but I know they'll be calling when they're thinking they're gonna inherit something. So incredibly sad.


Yes, it is sad.

You are not responsible for the behavior of your adult siblings or their children. They make their own choices. If you think they may be thoughtless rather than deliberately making a choice, you could make a gentle reminder a few days ahead of the event. A general email or smart phone message along these lines ...

"I hope you are all well and have fun plans for the holiday. We'll have a scaled-down version of our traditional standards, and for sure have Great-Aunt Betty's pie recipe! If you are planning to call the folks, between 3 and 7 would work best with our meal plans -- but do whatever is convenient for you and we'll make it work!"

Don't tell them what to do -- not your role -- but plant the seed of an idea!

I don't know if your parents have dementia or not, but I can tell you that if you call my MIL, she will talk to you, but 30 minutes later will have no recollection of you calling or the conversation. None whatsoever. In fact, if we don't tell her it's Thanksgiving or her birthday or whatever, she wouldn't even know. She doesn't pick up on clues or remember things like that anymore.

Perhaps your sibs and family feel frustrated by their calls to them and no longer place the same importance on the holiday calls that you do. I like Jeanne's little reminder, but I wouldn't point out the absence of calls now that you know it upsets your mom. Mom and Dad could call their kids sometimes, too.

Everybody has to live with their own conscience, if they don't call or visit - their problem, not mine.
No, you are not being too picky. It is not acceptable that they did not call your parents. Everyone has 5-10 minutes to spare to make a telephone call. I liked jeannegibbs answer; perhaps you could email them, and give them a time frame during which hours would be best to call. In addition, I do agree with you that adult children that don't put out any effort for their aging parents, do indeed come out of the woodwork when it is time to collect the inheritance. It is really sad.
Samara, I have before now sent discreet texts to my siblings ahead of birthdays and Christmas to nudge them into calling. I've had mixed results. I have to admit that I privately resent having to do it and feel pretty disgusted that it should be necessary, so I understand how you feel. Consciously refusing, in your own mind, to take responsibility for other people's behaviour is the only answer, Jeanne is right.
I, for one, prefer siblings do not call. I will never bring up a reminder of a birthday or any holiday. These are the things that my Mom will begin to obsess over and become extremely agitated because she thinks this ideal family of hers gets along. And if a call does come, she forgets within 30 seconds of hanging up the phone unless one of the sibs has decided to share information that Mom just is not able to process. The other night POA sib decided to share with Mom that she has lots of Mom's bills to pay. Mom said that she would pay whatever, but a bit later became extremely agitated because she wanted to go home to her other two daughters. Mom has lived in this house for more than 50 years but does not recognize it any longer. And in that same vein I made a mistake last night when putting Mom to bed. She again was wondering where her other two daughters are and wondered if they were living together. I answered "no, they would probably kill each other if they lived together". Not a good response on my part as it upset her so I told her she would be seeing them in the morning. She calmed down quite quickly from my rude comment that I should not have made. But, I am human, and my disgust with my sibs is my own that I need to try harder to keep to myself. Sibs have put me through the proverbial wringer emotionally and financially and my irritation, I would even call it complete indifference, bordering on hate comes out at times.

Do not make a big deal about phone calls it is not worth it because of the agitation it could cause in your elders and the additional stress on you. Find a way to lessen the importance of these calls for YOU!
We must have the same family! One granddaughter called here on Thanksgiving..

Take it from someone who spent waaay to much time whining about selfish family, just let it go! You need to focus on loving and caring for your parent to the best of your ability...

It's their loss.. When my Mom passes I will be able to hold my head high, knowing I gave her my all.. She deserves respect and love...
Samara, I think the responses here are divided by level of parents' impairment. If one's parents are old and frail, but with good mental health and clearly setting their hopes on hearing from the kids, yes, I would go with Jeanne's reminder. But if parents are easily agitated, upset and confused by phone calls, I might ask sis in advance to send a card with pictures. Yes, sometimes it's US who are waiting for the call.
I present another side of the coin. I call my mom multiple times on a holiday and she doesn't pickup the phone. She may be depressed or just angry that she is alone (she chooses to not go to friends homes when no longer invited). Then she will call or I will call and she cries how lonely she is and then has also screamed at me "hope you are happy WITH the your family, have a nice life..etc.". It's upsetting and ruins not only my day but spoils it for my family as well.

My brother no longer calls her for the same reason. Our childhood holidays weren't the best.

I do make a point of sending a card or calling the a few days before and state "we'll celebrate when I see you"...and I make a point to follow thru and do that. This gives her something to look forward to and salvages my holiday.

Sounds selfish maybe but a sacrifice for my self preservation.

Unless the relationship between grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc is current and ongoing, I don't think it is necessary for them to call on the holiday unless they really want to. I agree it would be nice if they sent a card or brief note as this is meaningful to the senior that they can hold and re-read over and over...but today that is pretty rare, they hardly even send a thank you note.

And we can all agree....that poster is right, they will all be present to share in the estate whether or not they have made a point to honor the elder and whether or not we feel they are deserving.
Perhaps you could call these forgetful family members a few days before a holiday and ask them the best time for you to call them? Maybe they just got caught up in the day and by the time they remembered to call, it was very late. My own daughter has guiltily told her grandmother that. YOU could call family members at a time of their choosing and put your parents on the phone. Advocate for your loved ones. I'm sure they're not all being inconsiderate. And if they are.... wise them up!
I know how it is. My sister is the same way. She thinks nothing of leaving Mom home alone on a holiday so that she can run off to a resort where she and her hub own a time share. No calls or the like. When I was in the hospital, deathly ill, she didn't even send a card. So yeah I know who it is. You can't change people, if they think ignoring their mother is the way to go, then you still can't change them.

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