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Thanks for this exceptional topic. I am feeling almost normal after reading everyone's posts. My spoiled baby brother had his final overdose in Mom's home 4 months ago. I'm her only child now.
All my 30 year's of 12 step work has now come full circle. I forgive them both for pushing me away all my life. I am setting Mom up for a very comfortable life right now and she will never have to be placed in AL. Forgiveness brought a supernatural love for Mom and my brother I never thought possible. My heart grieves for our loss as it was so unnecessary.
I am grateful I was a workaholic and made great choices even though I did it all alone. They were jealous and critical of me. I am so sorry for all of us who have loving hearts unacknowledged. Well I affirm and praise you ! One of the docters said to Mom 'I hope when my kids grow up they will be half as kind to me as your daughter is being towards you' She has a Mom she could never please.
Keep loving and for giving. .it set me free!
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Sorry, part of my post was deleted ... it should have said " ... double lung cancer; my mother and I took care of my grandmother ..."
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I agree, this is a great discussion! My only sister and I are also VERY different. She is NOT a caregiver in any way, yet she is a mother and I could not have children. My cousin and I cared for my mother's sister who died from double lung cancer, my mother; my grandmother who died from colon cancer with dementia; a friend and I cared for her husband but she couldn't handle any it more so I was alone with him when he died from colon cancer; now my step-father and I are caring for my mother but I have most of the responsibility as well as the POA and all of the financial, household, administrative, medication and physician responsibilities. My sister pops in town twice a year to criticize and tell us what should be happening and create drama to the max. Her last trip was so bad, my mom had to be hospitalized but she has turned it all around and everyone blames me. She has decided that I am a drug addict, lazy, and a bad caregiver - I guess that makes her look better? She is a liar and as they say, would rather tell a lie when the truth would be easier. I cannot keep up with her numerous stories they are so twisted. And now that her children are becoming adults, they are getting involved and believing her lies, which makes me so sad. Yes, there is usually one in the family who is a caregiver and tag, I'm it. My sister has stayed away as long as possible when our family members were dying, then shows up at the end, crying and saying "I finally made it, I can't believe I made it!" as if something else had been keeping her away. I have no idea what makes siblings so different and my Mom worries over the same question every time she is aware of the issue enough to ponder on it. So sad!!
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As the middle child of 4 children I can attest to the fact that everyone is different. What a boring world it would be if we were all alike. But unlike my 3 siblings I am my mother's caregiver. She hasn't seen her only son in 24 years (lives in the same town) and her 2 daughters gave up 5 months ago refusing to accept the fact that mom has severe dementia/alzheimer's and delirium. I'm doing everything I can to make her life as easy as possible. I know one thing - when my mom passes I will have done everything I could for her. I can rest knowing that. I'm sure my other siblings won't feel the same way. My oldest sister is laced with jealousy of me since we were small. My youngest sister feels she was never loved enough by mom. We 3 girls doted on my brother - the youngest - and loved him always. I guess he was just too spoiled. I still love them all. It's too bad they can't see that.
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I love this post. I am the youngest of 4, had a conversation with my older sister (8 yr age difference) not too long ago that when she moved out and started her family she knew different parents then I did. With my sister, my parents were retired, travelled (by car), went to shows, etc. My sister had her kids in her 20's, I had mine in my 30's. I experienced parents who needed more assistance because by then my dad had recently had a heart attack, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. My parents and grandmom both sold their houses they had lived in for 40 years and moved in together within walking distance of my house. My parents would babysit for my sister while she and hubby went skiing for a week. They would shop together, go out to eat. With me I was taking care of grandmom, getting my mom thru BREAST cancer, getting them settled in new house. I am not complaining here but looking back my sister had a more carefree relationship with my parents and I had more of a caregiving relationship. I think that as we children become adults, what is happening in our parents life define our relationship. My siblings were concerned about their vacations, decorating their houses, etc and i was concerned with who would sit with grandmom if I took mom and dad to my sons' ballgame. Although the youngest, I was the loudest and the problem solver who would give suggestions and do what it took to make things happen. As result, my parents became more depended on me because I just did what needed to be done. My oldest sister's children were grown, brother has had crohns since his 20's (now 60's), other sister is single and needs to support herself. My middle sister couldn't change a bandage on dads foot because it freaked her out. Needless to say I did a lot of the dirty work. Although I am told I am loud and have no filter, (oh well, have been this way for 55 yrs, should be used to it) my father and i are very much alike and butt heads often. When talk started between siblings to put my parents in a nursing home, my husband and sons said no way! Proudest moment of my life. I basically moved into my parents home and with the help of my middle sister and paid help we were able to keep them home and together. I think if my family said nothing, both my parents would not be here today. Some people are problem solvers, caretakers and the go to person and others are not. There is usually only 1 in each family. Like others have posted, even if I have dad full-time, why doesn't anyone ever offer to help ME out. Only time they come is for a visit and with the exception of one who comes each week, the other once a month and the last only on holidays. I am now under the mindset to expect nothing and I won't be disappointed. My fathers grandchildren (my children) have more compassion for the care and needs and wants of my father then his own children do.
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I often ask the same question. I am one of three children, and although there are some things we all have in common, for the most part we are all very different in so many ways, and some differences are extreme. It can be very annoying and upsetting, since family members are supposed to love and accept each other unconditionally, which can be hard to do if behaviors are very different or ideologies are very far apart....

As far as I’m concerned, there is no debate – it’s simple – everyone is an individual and each individual’s personality is influenced by many things; including nature and nurture. Your physical environment and your DNA, how you were treated as a child (by everyone around you), things you’ve seen and read, personal experiences, jobs you’ve held – every single thing, that happens to you and around you as you grow affects you in some way and that determines the person you are and the person you become as you grow older. Something that happens in a split second, that you have control over or not, can change your way of thinking, can change you emotionally (or physically) forever.

Some of it is random luck, some of it is planned (by you or by others). But there are a few things known for sure about everyone; your health can affect your personality, which means you (your personality) is affected by everything around you, even while in the womb. You can hear while in the womb too, so keep that in mind. And, the first 2-3 years of life are crucial. What you hear & see, how you’re treated, what you eat & drink, your environment – all of it affects you profoundly and becomes the base to your soup of life....

This does not have to mean that if your first 3 years are bad you become bad or have a hard time in life, but it can mean you’ll have a harder time than others (harder to become a decent and well-rounded person), making things more difficult for you, and giving you less chances to be happy and healthy (and liked, able to “fit in” and do well).

But since there are so many determining factors, so many things that influence us, so many pivotal moments in every life, it’s not really possible to control or predict, and it’s not always possible to say what caused us to be who we are as we grow and age. It’s one of life’s mysteries.

PS) To anyone who has young children (or is thinking about having children) and reads this discussion, then tries to “mold” or control their children too much, even if you’re doing it to try and make them better or brighter – you’re doing them a disservice. Too much control can easily cause emotional issues that will scar your children forever. All we have to do, everyone one of us on this planet, is try to be the best person we can be, do your personal best in every way, do unto others, do the right thing every day, and in doing so you will in turn teach your children well, by example. That, and help out in your community (or leave a bad community if it’s too dangerous or unfriendly) so your children will have a chance to be the best people they can be. And that’s about all you can do.
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I think this thread has brought more support to those being the carer than any other I have read. It does so point out who one is in the greater scheme of the family dynamics, be they dysfunctional or close. And also points out the need to remember who #1 is, that is not being selfish, but if #1 is OK then its more possible to be of help to others. One of my daughter's in-laws are going through that awful stage right now, the daughter wanted and believed she could care for the parents, but then the dad slipped, and broke his hip in the hospital for a bout of pneumonia, with resulting death. leaving the mother, totally incapable. That daughter then wanted the rest of the family to come and help her cope and look after the mother. of course all are scattered around the UK so not possible. Now in a rest home but they don't think its a good one. and trying to find one closer that can be better monitored by the daughter.
All the grandchildren are of course working so no extra help there but slowly things are sorting themselves out.
Yes rest homes are the new cultural fad of this generation of grandparents but that's only cos there have been no wars to knock them off, and medications to keep them going well past the 3 score n 10.
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I agree with sunsetpark. My sister and I were 2 years apart, came from the same parents, were raised with the same values and had the most wonderful mom and dad. They weren't perfect by any means just like I'm not. She and I were so close but so different. She had her priorities and I had mine. When it came time to take care of the parents she was totally reliant on me. She worked , I didn't so guess who got the brunt of the work. That doesn't mean I didn't do anything. I took care of my grand kids AND my mother with Alz/dementia plus my dad. I not only closed their house, estate sale, moved my dad into retirement facility but helped HER move because she was in poor health and didn't have anyone to help her. Don't get me wrong, I loved my sister but we were different. So different. Unfortunately I lost her 2 yrs ago due to health problems. So now I'm still by myself. Still doing everything. It is what it is. I miss her so much.
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Oh heavens...yes, this is a thing that I have often wondered. My brother and I are 13 years apart (he's older) and we are absolutely, positively nothing alike. I have had the responsibility of my parents for countless years, even travelling back and forth from overseas where I lived for 25 years. He did not come home to visit my mother 1,5 years before her death (he was "uncomfortable" around her because she "wasn't the same" and he basically considered her dead already the day she had her massive stroke though she lived 12 years more). And so far, it's been 1.5 years since he hasn't laid eyes on my father. I pay all the bills for my father with my father's money, including round-the-clock sitters that allow him to stay in the family home where he wants to be. All my brother can accuse me of is "spending HIS money". Thank god he lives in another state so I'm not faced with his criticism. And did I also mention he's a hopeless alcholic? How in the world we came from the same parents and turned out so differently I will never understand.....
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My brother is more like an Uncle and my cousin told me I'm like his Mom my mothers sister. Also, each child has different needs. I think at one time parents felt all the children had to be raised the same. Ye, when it comes to morals and such but each child needs to be raised by what they need emotionally. Then u have the parent who does show favortism. And the parent who can't stand the child because they remind them of an ex. I had/have a sister and brother who were/are layed back. My other brother and I aren't. My sister never did anything. She has passed but I wonder where she'd be in Moms care.
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I am an only child, but I have watched my mom and her two siblings--brother and a sister. They are all totally different--which is absolutely fine. I have two children a girl and a boy. Raising more than one child I see how we may do it one way with the first child, then a different way with the second child and by the third, fourth or fifth, I cannot imagine how we handle that. Parents should not expect each child to be the same and that is what I saw with my grandmother, she thought each child should be the same, act the same and put the same amount of effort toward what she needed. My grandmother didn't really have a mom to learn how to be a mom. Her mom left the family at an early age and the dad was responsible for raising 9 children. So inexperience has much to do with some of it. Then I saw my mom feel the same about her siblings. My mom was the middle child and she definitely portrays the "middle" child syndrome. She thinks her sister is useless when actually she is just the opposite. Who is to say how everyone should act in certain situations? Being an only child raising two children, I see how very different siblings can be and should be. Who knows why one child does more than the other child..but I will give my own theory on this. I believe that parents do treat each child differently for different reasons. This doesn't mean that the parent cares or loves one or the other more. We have to treat each child by their own personality. I do believe it depends on the child.

As far as one child pitching in more than others during a caregiving situation also depends on the child and also maybe how they were treated by the parent. Being an only child I have got the brunt end of every situation with my mom. I do not have anything or anyone to compare this to. After being treated the way she has treated me, I totally understand why one child may not want to have anything to do with the parent's caregiving. With that said, some children only want what a parent can do for them and unfortunately this may be a sibling of each of you. Just remember, you may not know the "whole" story on how the parent treated your siblings. As the main caregiver, your parent could have some how "brainwashed" you or had some control as a child that you just can't seem to let go of now as an adult and you feel compelled to help out. Keeping an open mind during the caregiving process with your siblings is important. Maybe seeing their side could help understand.
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Wow! Great comments and insight from all. I agree but would add one comment: I believe that children are affected by the abuse heaped on their parents by grandparents. In many, families, especially mine, both of my parents had dysfunctional parents, and so in turn were dysfunctional themsekves. My father verbally and physically abused my Mom, my brother and me, and now my brother is a mental mess who has constantly made disastrous decisions. I don't know how or why, but I managed to overcome my upbringing. I homeschooled my daughter, who just graduated from a community college with a cumulative 4.0 gpa. I also recently went back to school at age 55, to get back into the job market. My mother has received exemplary care and always will. My brother hasn't visited his mom in 2 years, even though he brought his family back to live off of my parents for a few years . I thank God I was able to overcome my past. Some of us can shrug it off, some can't. I don't understand it, but I am thankful.
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My four kids were all different in how they reacted to things from birth--and those ways of dealing with things have been consistent their whole lives. I learned early that we had to work with them differently. We did hold them to the same standards, and they are all successful adults. They were all great helping with their dad in his last illness-the last year was tough; and they tend if anything to be too protective of me (I'm a still working, healthy 74.) I recall my dad watching my older half-brother's kids--one is my age, one 3 yrs younger, one 10 years younger-noticing how their parents' maturity levels affected the kids' personalities. Ironically, he thought the youngest was the "healthiest", and worried about the shy older sister; as it turned out, the older one has had the more stable life, while the younger took a lot longer to get her life straight.
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Tryingmybest raises a good point about how some parents label kids good and bad. Kids tend to live up to parents expectations, high or low. My older brother always baffled me. How on earth could he be so self centered? I know there must be factors besides parenting but I have always wondered if my parents related to us differently, he saw me as favored, acted out for attention. Kids seek attention and will get it by good or bad behaviour . With sis, anyone could see what happened there. She was the princess, belle of the ball, southern bell, beauty contest winner and so on. Men fell at her feet women hated her. My parents were the supreme enablers. She went through life with the national bank of mom and dad propping her up . Wanna marry a jerk, get divorce, mary another jerk, have kids you shouldn't have, headache, here's mamas pain pills, and here's a check for your car insurance, don't wanna go to rehab, no problem. She died of an overdose leaving 2 small children. I'm sorry, but my parents lack of mature parenting skills caused this. They don't realise it and I would never confront them about it but it's quite true in this particular case.
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Wow Gaylve.. great post!! It hits so close to home.. everything you said.

Same for me.. my siblings are content to stand and watch me flailing around trying to save my parents while putting my own life on hold.. possibly even creating health issues for myself..as well as losing other relationships.. and losing myself.

I was also the closest sibling geographically so fell into the caregiving roll. I just cannot imagine if the roll were reversed if I would sit and watch my sibling suffering with caregiving...and do nothing to help. I just hope I wouldn't..couldn't do that.

Some people just don't have enough empathy and compassion to really put themselves in another's shoes. I have to believe they don't understand the pressures and the enormous sacrifice caregiving takes. Caregiving could even be life threatening. I am just appalled that siblings don't seem to care..even to help out just a little.

I hope to God I would have more empathy and compassion then they are showing if the shoe were on the other foot and they were the primary caregivers...
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I think the spouses and the in-law families have a great influence. Also, the more easily a sib creates the life they want, the less they care about their family of origin. Does it matter that their parents need their help and it's a matter of survival? Not much. They are too busy with themself, their spouse and their own lovely lives.
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Being male and two hours drive away seems to have been sufficient reason for my 3 brothers to feel excused from almost all involvement. Those are the differences that stand out in my situation. I push to get some help, but beyond doing our folk's taxes, they've done practically nothing over the nearly 15+ years of both parents dementia (first Mom, now Dad). I always felt my bothers were really great people, but this issue is inevitably altering our relationship. It's hard to feel close to people who don't help while your life is being overwhelmed and ruined by the needs of the parent/s.

I sometimes envision this situation like Dad is the drowning man, who is pulling me under as I try to help him, meanwhile my brothers are bystanders who are not bothering to throw us a rope.

Is it ignorance of how much damage is being done to the one who is left with the burden? If so, they seem very happy to remain ignorant as they have never been willing to really listen to everything involved. It's amazing how many urgent things crop up, to put an end to phone calls, the moment I start telling about the latest problem with Dad, that I must solve, no matter how impossible or unpleasant. I really feel like they want to keep their heads in the sand. And attempts by me to make them see, only seem to push a wedge between us.

This is the most horrible disease. It takes away everything. It starts with the victim's memories, abilities, and independence. It obliterates life savings. It takes away their homes as they need safer environments, or as houses are sold to pay for their care. It eventually takes away their identity, as they forget their friends and family. {How can I still love my sons if I don't remember them. Am I then still a Mom? ] It eventually changes them into selfish, self centered, angry, sometimes violent, uncivilized, incontinent creatures.

And while that is bad enough, while that progression is taking place it is also destroying the lives of the people that person once loved. As the victim requires more and more attention and care, their caregivers have to rearrange their own lives to handle the burden. The time given to this needy parent is pulled from the time that would have / should have gone to that caregiver's children, grandchildren, spouses, job, and even herself.

That time is lost. Relationships suffer, the caregiver's friends get lost along the wayside. Grandchildren grow up without the close feelings they would have developed had their grandmother been able visit and babysit instead of watching the elder great grandparent. Spouses feel neglected, and go elsewhere. The caregiver's health suffers. The stress is notoriously damaging and is incessant. And face it, 24/7 elder care is definitely not an aerobic sport, and leaves little time for going to the gym.

Heck, it's not exactly mind stimulating either. Certainly not cognitively. On the rare occasions I get to converse with other people, have nothing to say. With no job (retired early to take care of elders), no time for hobbies, no time for travel, little contact with grandchildren, or friends, my mind became a wasteland.

And as for emotional health: is job is in fact it is emotion destroying. Care giving job is hard. Unless you're a saint, it's unpleasant, annoying, frustrating, angering, usually thankless, and quite often damn near impossible. You can't help but dislike it, even hate it. It erodes, and for some, obliterates our own memories of the good times of the past. Thoughts of the parent whose needs are destroying your life, inevitably become overwhelmingly negative. And as I mentioned earlier in this post, it eventually damages the loving relationships you had with the siblings who seem to have abandoned you to this situation.

And so you begin to hate it all. You resent feeling trapped, you miss those people that the care giving displaced from your life. You miss companions and you miss fun. And even resent the loss of the good relationship you used to have with the ones who aren't helping.

And you resent the dementia parent and wish the misery would all just end. And then you feel worse because you now also feel guilty for hating it all, because this is your parent your talking about. And you know the only way it'll all end is when their gone.

And so the bad feelings fold in on themselves, as you now resent that you can't even be allowed hate having your life destroyed. Why should anyone feel guilty about that, but you do.

So was it nature, or nurture, or merely logistics in our case? I don't know. Would I have chosen to keep my head in the sand, had there been someone geographically closer to step into these caregiver shoes? I don't know that either.
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Like a lot of the other posters I believe that there is a unique formula for each person that includes genetics and environment.

My siblings and I are completely different. We were labeled early on and those labels were heavily enforced and judged. They shaped our relationships and not for the good, we are not close at all and that is a shame. Both my parents were raised in families that labeled people. There were the "good" ones and the "bad" ones, I was always uncomfortable with that.
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I read my post again and saw that I need to clarify from the first paragraph: " Keep in mind that you are not the one being targeted. It's those who are fortunate enough to have children." I was referring to being targeted by busybodies who criticize the parent for the way a child turned out.
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Heart2Heart ~

Reading Carol's comment again, I don't get the impression she is attacking the childless. She obviously was talking about those who blame the parents for whatever goes wrong with their kids. Keep in mind that you are not the one being targeted. It's those who are fortunate enough to have children. How's this for insensitive: "It's YOUR fault that they turned out this way. If only you had spent more/less time with them; disciplined them more/less; did/didn't insist that they attend church; etc. etc. etc."

These comments can come from a friend, a neighbor, a parent, a spouse, and even the child her/himself. When my oldest was a teenager he compared my uptight standards with his friend's mother who was sooo much more fun to be around. Yeah, the mother who abandoned her only child and blew into town for a few months every now and then to spend "quality time" with him when she wasn't meditating in a commune somewhere. I'm sure she was a lot more enjoyable company than someone trying to stay sane while raising four children, who incidentally and on topic, were as different from each other as one could imagine!

Frankly, I think it was your doctor who was being insensitive. It's easy for him to say that you would have been a wonderful mom while dissing someone else. Maybe if that nice person who turned out to be a less-than-sterling mother had been childless she too would have been perceived as a great candidate for parenthood. My brother's ex is really good at caring for the elderly and infirm, but was so abusive and neglectful towards her own three children that none of them wants anything to do with her!

I am not implying that you would not have been a wonderful mom, and sometimes I wonder why God allows certain persons to reproduce and others are denied the blessing, but it's all part of the experience of mortality. There is no way of knowing how one will react to the rigors of child rearing, but I believe that most of us do our best with lots of stumbling along the way.
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Should parents bequeath equally to children, give more to those that need it most or more to those that care for parents?
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With my family my oldest sister and my other oldest siblings have different father's than I and the worst tempers ever. My mom used to argue with my older brother and he would walk out of the room. My oldest sister would always say I gotta go. My other oldest sister would call at the drop of a hat get into trouble and cause my mom so much heartache she nearly had to go to the hospital a couple of times. My first oldest sister helps out a lot has do I with chores and stuff. I have a good brother in law that helps out with food and stuff. My oldest sister and my oldest brother in law do have disagreements and that is why I miss the late Sheriff being here because he was able to talk to us like one of the family and help us with our disagreements. I also miss my aunt that moved to PA. Now that she is not here the family dynamic is even worse she was able to keep the peace. My other aunt that lived in Illinois in Collinsville is gone and she tried to have everyone keep the peace also. One of my uncles also moved to PA. and when he was here in Illinois he was able to sort things out. I feel that with the family pets they know what is going on and they are not able to say anything but look at you or bark and meow but they do know what is going on. I feel like the pets, the grand children, the great grandchildren, the nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews are caught in the middle of the family dynamic and the family arguments. My oldest sister and I have to pay the bills and sit with each other and hash out the bills and get into disagreements but it is worth having someone handle balancing both checkbooks for mom. I love my eldest sister and we disagree on a variety of subjects based on the education and training received but I still love her. I would say although you have one of the same parents but a different mother or father for each kid but one parent is the same there will be varied differences, different points of view, but that is what makes a family and the family still has to try to work out their differences over time and agree to disagree for the sake of their parents.
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Yeah, it seems SO common among families, for whatever reason. I saw the same thing during my grandma's care. My mom stepped up and did WHATEVER was necessary. I also helped. But my two aunts (Mom's sisters) were just a pain and caused my mom all kinds of stress. I don't know why it is, except people are different. Some are natural care-givers and helpers. Others are not. Some are more critical and negative. Others more positive.
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Windyridge: I understand you 100%. I am the oldest of 12 full responsibility regarding my Mom. But they all give advice but don't do a danm thing to help. I feel for you.
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With three sisters and one brother (now deceased) I can attest to the fact all five of us were different. Do not try and understand it, just accept the variations in genes and different experiences while growing up. Just be thankful you turned out to be the responsible one!
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You could be talking about my own family here! I believe that it's a combination of nature, nurture & one's life experiences. The nature example is: I have an older sister, who's very driven, a high achiever and cold as ice. My younger brother (the baby in the family) is sweet but basically a flake and hardly capable of caring for his own kids without doing something lacking common sense. As the middle child, I'm the one who is mom's caregiver. Sis took mom to live in assisted living by her (100 miles away from mom's house that we sold), but was hardly visiting. Her husband would visit every other week, but mom knew no one in this state, so I brought her back to the city she lived in for the past 50 yrs and have her stay with me on weekends (she's in assisted living now). Brother visits every other week (a 12-hr drive), but when he's here, he doesn't really help with anything. Never asks if there's anything he can do. But then again, he was raised by chauvinistic parents from a culture where boys aren't supposed to lift a finger. Even though my brother was born & educated here, he continues to perpetuate this mentality. So he would be the nurture example.
The reason why I that sometimes, one's life experiences can also influence this is b/c I know that when I was in my 20s & early 30s, I was just as selfish and did whatever I wanted, travel, friends, etc. But as I got older and experienced certain things (losing my father, divorce, etc.), the selfish part of me dissipated and now I dedicate my life to making my mom's final years as good as I can. 20 years ago, I probably would have been as selfish as my sister & brother.
Still, as everyone says, there's always one child that ends up doing all the work, even when there are tons of siblings nearby. I don't think it's a coincidence that every one of my female friends has been the one to care for their parent & other relatives until the very end. I guess birds of a feather really do flock together, lol.
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I was the first born, but unwanted girl, given to grandparents to raise till age 10, then brought home to be the "caretaker" for my much wanted younger brother while my parents worked. I was the family scapegoat and abused from that point on and younger brother protected from the abuse. When we were both grown and out of the house, I tried to explain to my brother why I did not get along so well at that time with our parents and his reply was "I don't know what you are talking about, I did not have the same parents you thought you had." I never tried to explain it to him again. Now he is 55 and I am 60. After many years of healing from my dysfunctional childhood through professional counseling, my husband and I have been able to be emotionally strong enough to shoulder the burden and move in and live with those same 2 parents as their caretakers 24/7. Younger brother does nothing but visit here occasionally and have us down to his house for family dinners. So the "unwanted" child who was taught to be the caretaker as a child still is, and the spoiled and doted on child goes his merry way most of the time in this family, but I found out that my parents have been keeping him in the dark about their problems. I came home from another state after a 21 year absence with my eyes wide open to some of the problems I was witnessing when I came home for visits and completely willing to do what had to be done here. Why? First of all, as the oldest I believe it is my responsibility to care for my parents, regardless of how I was treated as a child. Secondly, I could not have lived with myself knowing they were not capable of looking after themselves and then leaving them in the mess they were in when I got here. Once I was here, I discovered that they have been hiding all their troubles from my brother, so he does not know that dad who is an alcoholic has been verbally abusing Mom and that Mom is in the beginning stages of some kind of Dementia. Things are much better now that I am here, but my parents still forbidding me to tell my brother. I don't allow the abuse, but Mom refuses to quit enabling the drinking. I am keeping a watchful eye on Mom as we begin the process of diagnosing what type of Dementia she has. When its all said and done one day, it will not matter to me what my brother has or has not done, and to be fair, he does not know about the abuse that was taking place or my Mom's dementia symptoms because my parents hide that well so far. It just matters to me that I did the right thing in seeing that they both are cared for as well as I am able.
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I was taken aback by Carol's comment "I get irritated when people (usually people who've never raised kids) think that everything is parenting." Let's not stereotype people that don't have children. As my on/gym doctor told me of 30 yrs "I see some people that shouldn't have children and then I see you that woul have made a wonderful mom". Some of us for health reasons can't have children and that isn't fair for others to judge. Insensitive comment.
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That is a great question. I had friends that had identical twin girls. They were soooo identical in appearance that their own Grandmother, and sometimes their Father could not tell them apart. I always could, which amazed everyone. My secret for telling them apart? One was methodical, softer spoken, every hair in place, clothes kept neat, project or toys intact. The other one lived in the minute, 0-60 in 3 seconds, hair a mess, clothes soiled and wrinkled, project and toys a mess, always bouncing off the walls chattering loudly. :-) Same divided egg, same everything at the same time, as far as parents, outings, teachers, friends, all the way 'til kindergarten.

I've got 3 relatives that had their last child so much later than their 1st that the last child biologically could have been the son or daughter of the oldest sibling. All 3 of those instances they were raised a world apart, the younger ones got a more relaxed, financially secure set of parents with more time to give them. So those differences make sense. But watching the identical twins, I almost wonder if it isn't the part we can't see that makes the difference, like the "soul" we are born with?
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Some things are just unexplained dysfunctional phenomenons!

Have to agree, this statement pretty much sums it up.
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