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Being. first, middle, last born means a lot even if circumstances were equal - thus hard-wiring would be the only thing that differed. Parents ability to give - emotionally and economically to the family changes. Social attitudes, laws, and programs, can have shifted drastically between the time of a first child's birth and that of 4 siblings later, especially if siblings were born enough years apart. 2 sisters may approach adulthood, for example, one before and one after Roe vs. Wade. Siblings may reach adulthood before and after the marijuana laws changed. Siblings may be at the ages that were or were not impacted by the Voting Rights Act or the Civil Rights Act. Between siblings and cousins in my family there was about a 15 year age difference overall. Kids are like sponges and just naturally absorb so much of their immediate realities.
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My Mom's friends often ask how my siblings and I came from the same family. I've been caring for my Mom for years without the help of my sister and 2 brothers. They're perfectly fine with me doing it all, but when Mom shared money with me, knowing I gave up my job and life to take care of her, the others accused me of financial abuse. Yet, bone volunteered to participate in her care. Now my brother has petitioned for paid guardianship, and none of them wanted me to be paid for all the work I do. Selfish and greedy siblings just waiting for Mom to die. The more I spend on her care, the less there is for them down the line.
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Dejavu, my mom was the same way with my sis. She was the baby by 13 years and mom was the queen of the enablers, supporting all my sisters bad habits, bad marriages and so on. Even when it was clear to all the world what a spoiled F......up my sister was, to mom it ways always someone else's fault. My folks spent half their retirement savings in the past 25 years supporting this self centered train wreck. As I posted earlier, this was clearly a case of bad parenting causing profound differences between siblings.
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For me my oldest Brother puffs his chest out like a rooster playing the macho male brother to his sister. He has a defiant nature that always has to be right and his way. I am yethe only girl in the middle of two males. I have also found that the minute the were married, their lives always, always come first when having anything to do with our mother. To make matters worse (for me who has been the good daughter) is that my mother glorifies them and their families. They all talk behind my back especially on holidays. They phone my mother, pass the phone around to each of their family members for their minute of fame with my mother and then hang up. I never knew hate was so possible in a family.
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I'm seeing this from another viewpoint--I'm the mom. I'm still healthy and working, but have been struggling to keep a family business afloat for the last 10 yrs since my husband died. I finally sold our house last year, realizing I needed to do it while I was still able to handle it all, and am currently living back and forth with my two daughters (both local). My four kids are all doing well; and everybody gets along, but recently one daughter and one son have realized that my finances are suffering from the time pressures I have, so they have taken over the paperwork end of my life. What is interesting is that each of the four have a different approach to the situation, which is consistent with they way each approaches life. One is very straightforward and tackles things head-on; one is very creative and looks for alternative ways to do things. Another is less involved (he has a young family and inlaws with health issues). Another who used to be the most "bossy" with me has backed off; she's more likely to take a round-about way to things.
They were all very helpful during their dad's last illness, and the older ones were involved with granny-care. It will be interesting to see how it plays out down the line!
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chessasfo, I have a baby brother that has us all scratching our heads. He was always a nice guy, and still is as far as how he interacts with everyone, but so dysfunctional and full of himself that he drives us all crazy to be around him. Nobody else has problems, only him, and the world is conspiring against him, doncha know.

I would have to write a book to rival "War & Peace" to describe what he has done with his life, but the worst part is that he sucked at LEAST a quarter of a million dollars from the parental teat (leading to bankruptcy after my father's death) and is STILL dipping into Mom's meager SS income whenever she is with him! She has always doted on her precious baby and has enabled all of his self-destructive behavior and that of his abusive, pill-popping, alcoholic ex-wife. I have to listen to Mom gush about how much he helps her, while thinking, "Yeah, helps himself to your money!"---but she never could accept the truth about the situation and now her dementia shields her from reality.

I ask myself, "How did such a nice, caring person turn into such a duplicitous jerk?"
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I refuse to laugh.... but... LOL good one... and so true. I had shelled out so much money in flights and car rentals, I had to pawn jewelry to get a flight at the beginning. Unfortunately mum didn't have any money, only 5K insurance to cover death etc, and to pay for moving things back to California. My brother had the gall to say he wanted an accounting of where every penny went, saying he didn't want his kids and himself to get sc**wed! I told him, he wasn't entitled to any accounting of what was spent, but that logic would tell him that if anyone were getting sc**wed it would be me! No one was paying for the 3 months of car rentals but me. Thing is, I don't give a fig how much I ended up out of pocket, I would do it all again for my mum... BUT I wouldn't do it the same way... I do get very upset when I think of how his behaviour affected my mum. And I do get upset because I told my mum I would always be there for my brother, her son... and I am not sure I can do that anymore....so not only did he make my life so hard, and effected how I was able to look after mum, but even now with her gone, I am still getting myself upset when I think about what I promised about being there for him. I mean please... the guy even defriended me on facebook.... what are we here teenagers? Its another story as to what happened in the days before mum died, and the days after... it gets even worse, if that's possible. But for now, this is where I am...
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Chessasfo? Welcome to the club! We all have family just like yours, it's glue of this forum! Not to minimize what you are going through.... Sucks when you find out siblings don't care about you or your parents. Oh... But wait.... Did somebody wave some dollar bills???
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So many valid points, which all have a baring on how we sometimes end up being so different as siblings.... BUT, 2 siblings raised in the same household, by same parents, that do end up being quite similar in their out look on life, & how one treats others, and stay that way for years, BUT then one of them changes... not just little changes, but HUGE ones... How can someone who had all the same upbringing as me, who was always compassionate, loving, and involved, change so much? Was it anything to do with changing his religion for the woman he was to marry? A religion I might add claims to be all loving, helpful, non judgmental etc etc..Could it be that his marriage or rather who he married changed his outlook?? And if the latter is true, then I really want to know how he could ever have allowed himself to be taken in so by this woman? How could literally shove his family, parents and sister (me) off the important list? They both can be there for their friends when they need help, but being there for for us is out of the question. Tell me please, who leaves their sister alone, to watch their mother die, after begging them to please come and be with me, that I can't do this alone... then to be told that no he couldn't be with his sister at their mothers death bed because his family needed him. That is not exactly the truth, the reason he couldn't be with me was because he had to babysit while his wife went to a baby shower... a baby shower for a friend, of a friend... not even someone she knew!! Who does that?
I guess my long winded point is, how on earth can we as siblings, who had always been so alike go in such different directions? How can someone who cried when they said Hello and/or good bye become so unfeeling, and be ok watching while they suffer???
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I have witnessed in my own family and in that of others, that some parents do favor one child over another both in word and in deed.

It is not quite the unconscious act that one would like to think. I have heard parents speak in glowing terms about the favored child and in rather negative terms about the other(s). This is not done without conscious thought. Action follows thought and there are substantial, physical examples of that spoken favoritism.

I was not the favored child of our mother either in word or deed. Our father did not have a favorite nor did he play favorites; he truly loved and treated both his children, his daughters, equally. He was a man of integrity, honor and love and family meant everything to him.

My year-younger sister grew up with a strong sense of entitlement as a result of our mother's constant doting, praise and giving to her and when that was not constantly fed through my sister's ever-increasing demands, my sister now has cut our mother entirely out of her life.

The daughter whom my mother treated as second-rate and spoke negatively about to any and every one, is now the only child standing by her in her old age. I do so because she is my mother, I love her, and I would never abandon her. Also, I do so out of love and respect for my father, now deceased.

Mom still treats me like dirt and continues to lie about me to anyone who will listen! Go figure!
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And, yes, I am reading up on Oliver James, too. Thank you for the tip!!!!!!!!!!!
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Thanks, Countrymouse and Windyridge,

Yes, I am trying to do a lot of positive reinforcement with my daughter. It helps, I believe. But she will never be an affectionate person. Most important with her, no criticism or advice. I am always on very thin ice so I just try to work on my listening skills. The better I do with active listening, the better things go.

By the way, it is amazing how long my little grandson will sit with me to be cuddled, kissed, tickled, tumbled, etc. He has heretofore been known as the "little devil," "all boy," a "handful," etc. But, in truth, he can sit and communicate and cuddle for 15-20 minutes. I find that amazing in a 3 year old boy.

Be well, all!
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Salisbury, sounds like you may have saved a little boy. What a nice story. So many children don't have anyone to make them feel loved. Let's just hope daughter doesn't mess him up down the road.
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Salisbury, that's extremely interesting. There's a psychologist called Oliver James here in the UK who talks about "love bombing" and the windows of opportunity in a child/young person's development when it will work - sounds like you got in there at the right time! I will now go back and read what he had to say about it properly.

I hope this rubs off upwards to your daughter too. Would giving her the same approval ease things between the two of you? I'd love to think so. But anyway - well done to you, Nanny :)
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This is a true story:

For the past seven years relations with my daughter have been so strained that I hardly met my two youngest grandchildren: 2 and 3. The three year old has been having problems, temper tantrums and banging his head into the floor. Beginning six months ago, my daughter began letting me into their lives a bit and much more in the last few months--free babysitter. I see him 2-4 times a week. Naturally, I noticed the tantrums and, one night in bed thinking it over, I decided to pre-emptively strike with lots of affection.

I will spare you the details: the tantrums have completely stopped!!!!!!!!!!! A few days ago he threw himself on the couch and said, "Nanny, kiss me all over." Yesterday, after we made cookies, he said, "Nanny, kiss me real fast" (you all know, lots of piled up fast kisses). This little boy is a SPONGE for affection. His little sister came along when he was one year old and, impossible to ignore, the little girl became the center of mommy's affection--she never put her down.

OK, so maybe this is just coincidence, but he is so enthusiastic that I do believe it has made a difference. He seems now like a happy little boy. Am I imaging this or what?

And back to our discussion: what happens forty years from now when his Mommy needs elder assistance?? Who will step up?
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We were treated the same by our parents. We did have different friends - mine were the "preppy" hers the not so...but our parents gave us same options....at 12 she started using drugs at 15 had her first child, by 21 had her third by her 2nd husband - the state paid for her college....I just dont get it...
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dejavuagain, you said that part better...in my head was trying to sound-bite too far. That is it exactly: the elder rages at the one who's closest to them [in reach].
And......An Elder who starts attacks while with Caretaker "A", can keep them going almost indefinitely when they move to Caretaker "B", if they can get others on-board with their fictions while still with Caretaker "A".
Mom always needed a "target". Always preferred to do battle...that's a large part of why she went through multiple spouses and boyfriends, before sticking with the least functional of the lot who was easier to control, who would battle, both him and his mother.
As her targets died off, someone else had to be "it". She's been capable of carrying on deeply vile verbals and accusations, as long as the target person is alive, even at a distance, as long as there are a few in her corner, assisting that process.
My siblings became her extensions
I've had to "love her from a safe distance" for over 3 years, this time, with no phone calls. In earlier years, I just kept geographically distant, and rarely heard from her as long as I kept sending money monthly--but if I was late sending it, she'd call, in her cups, and wheedle.
Speaking with them is kinda strange....same language, but some glaring misperceptions of what I say; so much "plausible deniability" in their verbals, it's too much cognitive dissonance - too crazy-making - it just doesn't feel safe to me.
I wish them well, and let them know I love them.
It seems futile to speak with them of much else.
Everything they've done communicates to me, they want nothing to do with me, and must have felt that way a long time, despite their words.
So I gift that space to them, knowing that when Mom dies, they will be all about pointing, getting angry at me for not speaking with Mom for the rest of her life [how dare I!!!].
Come to think of it, the only people I seem to have that sort of difficulty with, are chronic alcoholics and/or mental, or substance abusers... so I tend to avoid those...the hard part is recognizing them and getting out of the way fast enough.
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Dejavu that is exactly how it is in my situation. My parents never say anything negative about my absentee siblings in fact they appear to me to make excuses for them. If they do on the rare occasion do something for my parents (like call them). They go on and on about how well they are doing, how much they admire them..etc.

And.. I was more the black sheep in the family..definately not the favorite of the 4 siblings...their favorite now has almost no contact with them now.
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Good bullet points Chimonger. The only one I would take issue with is the elder saying nasty and/or untrue things about the absentee child. From what I have read on the agingcare.com message boards, more often it is the devoted caregiver who is the target of the parent's negativity. Often the more a child distances him/herself from the mom or dad the higher he/she is held in that parent's esteem. Why? Guilt, wishful thinking, flawed memory, or simply a refusal to accept that the child you sacrificed so much for doesn't give a hot damn about you now that you are old and feeble? Again, I'm just repeating what I have read time and again here. Go figure....
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Excellent summation chi.....
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How can kids in same family, be so different?
Easy!
==1. GENES: Each child of same 2 parents, can inherit widely differing genes from their parents.
==2. AGE ORDER: Each child is born into a different slot in the Age-Order [oldest child, middle child, youngest child] each having behaviors based just on that age-placement.
Even identical twins can be very different; non-identical twins can be as different as regular siblings.
==3. ATTENTION LEVELS: Each child experiences different Attention Levels from the parent[s].
==4. TREATMENT: Each child will have different treatment based upon their sex, age, and the financial situation the family is in at the time.
==5. OTHER variables: grandparents or other extended family present? Divorces? Other partners? Expectations of others upon the child? Foundational community ties? Any birth defect or health challenges? Shuffling a kid between households? What has the kid from a divorced home, been admonished to do or not to do, that the others have not? Etc.
Just from these, one can see how Each, in a batch of kids from the same 2 parents, can be VERY different from the others.
==Add to that: a parent w/ mental/emotional issues which got worse over time, and/or one or more of the grown kids having health issues of their own, and there can be a set-up to trigger one or more of the kids to back-off; you'll be lucky if they tell the ones doing the work, "thank you".

IF siblings are apart, geographically, they will perceive the missing sib[s] based on OLD perceptions from many years ago when they did spend time together, not how they are now....Some sibs might not believe the missing one is sick, or has limitations preventing them from participating in Mom's care. Parents do this, too.
As families, we're optimally supposed to have Unconditional love/acceptance for each other; few know what that really means, and fewer practice it. As Caretakers become more worn out, they can get increasingly judgmental, angry and get their feelings hurt, often lashing out at the missing sibling in various ways.
Verbal nasty accusations / comments about the missing child/sibling, made by the Elder, can be very emotional, ugly, and delivered dramatically. This makes it all-too-easy for the Caretaker to believe, triggering them to get emotionally invested in the Elder's comments or accusations.......at the point when the Caretaker Sibling believes the accusations against the missing sibling, the Caretaker becomes the Extension of the Elder's rage, acting out nastily at the missing one on behalf of the Elder who no longer can personally harm the missing one. This is pretty common in families which have been badly affected by abusive behaviors.

Hope this helps understanding.
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Great point by docwells. The family dynamic is always changing as new kids show up. There's only 2years between my brother and I. He was the older one and was always a mess. Maybe my parents improved their skills when I came along. I'm only half a mess. But then little sis popped up and it was like she was raised by silly, doting grandparents. She became an epic mess.
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My brother & I (I am female) are 2 years apart & 100000000 miles apart, so it's not like there was a huge amount of change in my parents parenting. I was the "black" sheep but I am the caregiver (my Mom now lives with me & my spouse). My brother & his friends had a club - the evil sisters club - where my brother only made it to Vice President (sorry to have disappointed him - still don't know what I did to deserve being considered evil). He has been in/out of jobs all his life. I held very responsible jobs all my life. He spent what he didn't have. I saved for a rainy day. I also put his daughter through college, when she could have gone IN state for practically nothing, but the little brat cried "Daddy I want to go to URI" which they could not afford (to be a teacher - really?). GUILT - where did I get that from (hence the funding of the college as well as many times helping with his bills)? He has none. RESPONSIBILITY - where did I get that from? He has none but he thinks he does. Sense of humor - where did I get that from? He has none but he thinks he does. I believe I got all that from my parents but then I look at him and wonder who the hell raised him??!!??!! He will drop everything, including jobs, to watch his kid in a hockey game - no boss will put up with someone taking all that time off. So - fired again! Now that I am no longer in my "real" job (a story for another blog) I am no longer able to financially able to help & do you think my niece calls me or texts me or emails? Unless money is involved, they want nothing to do with me.

No one I know who is not an only child is nothing like their siblings.

Nature/nurture? Both? Why are some people empathetic & others socio-paths? Who knows but sometimes you have to thank God for the differences - I want to be nothing like my brother. Unless he has something else to do in the neighborhood (he moved 1-1/2 hours away-another long story for another blog) he doesn't show up.

If my Mom predeceases me (Dad passed 15 years ago) the first thing I do is delete him from my cell phone. Hahaha.
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You are right about that, Danamovedon---and congratulations for having moved on! My ethnic heritage is a Heinz 57. Although my brothers and I are full siblings we range from blue-eyed blonde to dark hair, eyes & complexion. The darkest brother was targeted by our lily-white paternal grandmother in a way that I was unaware of as a child. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I started to become aware of the emotional abuse he had to endure at her hands, but I didn't know the full story until much later in life. She even made stupid comments about her favorite grandchildren (the offspring of her precious "baby" daughter) catching some disease from my brother if the sheets he slept on weren't washed thoroughly. Needless to say, my brother has always hated our grandmother, and I completely understand why! Ironically grandpa was a sweetie pie, but she nearly drove him crazy with her endless, mindless chatter.
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Shortest answer: Every child grows up in a different family than the one before them. Parents get wiser, or more tired, and there's an additional sibling there. It's a constantly changing dynamic.
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When we compare notes, all four of us siblings remember events from our childhood very differently, so maybe perception plays into the development of different personalities/values in siblings. (I'm thinking of the person who posted that their brother said he "didn't know what she was talking about" with regard to their parents.) I always thought my brother was a chronic liar but I think he believes himself.) It's true that what goes around, comes around. I smile when my siblings wonder why their children do the same thing to them that they did to my parents.
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I guess it's just different wiring of the brains, just the way siblings can have different eye colors, etc. In addition, if a sibling has a personality disorder (even a mild undiagnosed personality disorder), that could explain some of the differences.
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Seems to me it's a matter of survival. Sibling #2 chooses a different path than sibling #1 so as not to have to compete for attention. He/she learns what works for them.
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Is there a way to give everyone in this discussion a "hug" because I think we all deserve one!
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Someone commented about how crucial the first years of life are for a child. I have seen friends and family who are otherwise intelligent, so called model parents totally screw their kids up at a very early age. This is the molding time and ever so subtle mistakes in parenting can have life long consequences. I know there are other factors involved in producing a good or dysfunctional kid, but when the starting line is the same, health, environment , genes etc., what's going on when a kid grows up to be a mess and sibs are fine. We should look very closely at how we relate to our kids.
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