I was thinking about this last night when I was laying awake with insomnia. How I don't feel like I have a family anymore. There were seven of us kids growing up and here I am at 57 years of age and I feel like I might as well be an orphan. I tried to bridge the gap after mom died but I never felt like it was reciprocated. So now I have six siblings who I never see, rarely talk to unless there is a family emergency and even then we are distant with each other.

So, I'm just wondering if this is a trend in society. Is my situation the norm? What are your thoughts on this.

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I think the thing I've started to ask myself is are these people I would gravitate towards if they were not related to me and the answer is no.

I can honestly say that a lot of the hurt I've experienced in my life is because of them as well.

Do I want to continue to be hurt by and because of them? No I do not. Therefore, I need to keep them at a distance.

A lot of this could be because of what my own expectations are but I think at this point in my life journey I need to guard my heart.
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GardenArtist Aug 2019
Gershun, I'm impressed with your effort to synthesize the critical issues, and I think you've done it well.    If you wouldn't pursue relationships if they weren't relatives, and given that they're not the most kind or thoughtful relatives, I think there's another way you can view this.  

Not only is it NOT necessary for you to continue relationships, it's probably healthier that you don't.    You have that option now.  

I went through something similar during Dad's last years, at his death and afterwards.    I had already analyzed what benefit there was to continuing 2 different relationships, and found that in one case there was none, and in the other, the benefit ceased after Dad died.   

So I gave it more thought b/c of the changed circumstances,  but my decision was the same.    One could contribute something but wanted something in return (expensive wants, too!).   The other was primarily negative.    And this had been ongoing for several years.

Like you, I analyzed what benefit there was to pursuing relationships, and given that I would be the one making sacrifices, for little if nothing reciprocated, I decided to end the relationships.   And I fell much better about it.

It's nothing dramatic, I just don't accept or return calls and don't make any effort to keep in touch.   Kind of like Daniel Moynihan's "benign neglect", but toward relatives.

I hope you find a solution that works for you; it sounds as though it's troubling you, but primarily b/c of perceived obligations as opposed to actual value.  

Interestingly enough, I found a similar relationship existed after Dad passed.   A few of his neighbors were very good, very supportive, but after his death their attitude changed.   One had a wish list of what she wanted from his assets; husband had his eye on a few things too.   

Only one couple didn't have their hands out.    The others wanted something, especially to get inside the house and see what was there.    One church member even told me years before Dad died what he wanted.

Obviously, the only thing they're going to get is ignored, especially after the house is sold.   

My life will be changing, so I see these actions or inactions as mid-course corrections, eliminating issues, actions, etc., which no longer have any benefit.    I don't intend to spend the rest of MY life putting up with people who aren't reciprocal in their friendship or support, relative or not.
Shell, I may be thinking about these things because my Mom who I considered my closest friend as well died and then everyone just seemed to scatter after that. Not that we were at all close to begin with but my mom was the central figure in all our lives and when we wanted to know what was going on with each other we asked her. She was the nucleus I guess. What you said about not knowing your mom rings true for me in a lot of ways too. While I felt close to her, she wasn't an open book and never shared much about her past life. She had 11 siblings. I don't feel I know anything about most of them. My Dad died when I was four. He had 13 siblings. Same thing. I was starving for stories of my Dad growing up. But my mom kind of set the standard for not discussing him so my older siblings closed up about him too. In fact I was in my thirties before I even knew my mom was his second wife.

Garden Artist! So nice to see you on here. My two cats are brothers or litter mates is the correct term I guess. Daniel, the one on the left just had a cancer scare but is recovering now from surgery. I think and hope he'll be fine. I agree. Technology is the cause of a lot of this estrangement. Not just with siblings but people in general. I looked in amusement at a lady and who I believe was her grand daughter next to us at a restaurant yesterday. Both on their phones. No conversation whatsoever. Sad that.

Margaret, I am the second youngest actually. The age gap between the oldest and I is thirteen years. Sadly, he has passed. He was like a father to me. I don't know if the gap will ever be bridged to be honest. I don't try as much cause the rejection hurts too much. When your own sibling treats you like a stranger it's kind of hard to say "oh, by the way, remember when we used to do this and I love you" Any time I get mushy with any of them they look like they want to jump out of their skin. We'll see.
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I'm one of 6, # 5 in order with a brother on either end, and us 4 sisters in the middle, a 12 year age gap between the eldest brother and the youngest brother. Man our Mom was a busy gal!

Our parents were definitely the nucleus, as none of us ventured more than a few miles from the family home once we moved out and started our own families. There were always family gatherings, and 4 of us girls were all pregnant at the same time, so all the cousins (our kids) were very close growing up, just as we were close to our own cousins too.

These days, and after the many years of caring for our parents until their deaths, we are still close, especially my 3 sisters and I, we talk on the phone regularly and get together individually and as a group a few times each month. I only see my brother's a few time a year as we are all so busy with our own kids and now Grandchildren.

I can definitely see how now that Mom and Dad are gone, our closeness is diminishing as a whole unit, as our kids are now busy raising their own children, but we do make an effort to have whole family celebrations, like a family picnic in the summer, and a big inclusive Christmas party every year.

It's sad in a way, but also nice to see that amongst our kids, that special bonds are being forged between cousins and families, and that many of them are now traveling to Europe and doing skiing vacations together, so we must have done something right!

My own 4 children all seem to be pretty close, as we often hear of them getting together through social media, all completely separate from the family gatherings we as parents are included in, but we see them often.

I think having kids in common keep the family close, while at other times it pulls you apart, as their activities keep you so busy. It is at our Grandkids sporting events that we see them more and more, and thankfully we enjoy Baseball, as the parents have them enrolled in so many different sports and such, otherwise we would probably never get to see them!

I will say that Caregiving definitely brought our family together rather than pulling us apart as it happens in so many families. And now that our folks are gone and we are all mostly retired, that we see each other so often.

Gershun, I would say be patient, reach out to one or the other and try to find that common ground, and then try gathering in small groups, then the all inclusive gatherings and such. Sometimes it has to be You that does the initial work at rounding up your siblings, if that is what you truly want, a closer family unit. If there are Grandchildren amongst you, go to their sporting events in support, and you'll be surprised how easy it is to rekindle your relationships.

I think a lot has to do with how you were raised, I personally was raised in a very tight knit British family and we didn't know any different. We were all very close to our parents and so we remain close, as each of my siblings has definitive traits that came from our parents that at some time or another we each crave, such as my brother's are so funny, my little brother is a softie and sentimental like our Dad, my older brother is witty, dry, and so responsible too like Dad was.

My eldest sister is crafty, and comforting like Mom, next sister is a hard worker, kind and loves to be on the go like Mom, and the next sister, the one I'm closest to is fun, kind and compassionate, is still 15 years later, is grieving our parents so much it's painful to see, plus she is also struggling in her marriage, so that doesn't help.

Interestingly, we never fight or bicker amongst us, we all appreciate one another and know can count on each other. We are so close that words are not necessary in time of struggle, we just know each other so well. It's rare I know, and I know that I'm so lucky in that regard, but then I think, man, I am going to have to go through the deaths of some of these siblings, and I just don't think I can do it all again, and then you just do.
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I have a brother who died a few years ago. He was the bain of my existence and treated my mom terribly. I did my duty when he died and had his funeral. I would never have pursued anything with him and his wife and kids. I’m done with the whole crew. My younger brother and I have always been close. I do anything that I can to help him. He is single and has Parkinson’s. I have first cousins who are all close with each other.
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Gershun, All I have is one brother and we don't get along at all! We only talk now because my mother had to file bankruptcy and her name was on his truck which she put a loan on and lost his truck, if it wasn't for that we would never talk.

From what I have read on this forum and from what I see in the real world--it seems to me to become the norm. People today have to work harder and longer just to keep their head above water and the world we live in is running so fast that its like no one has time to say hi much less spend a few hrs with family. We don't value family the way it was value 5 to 7 decades ago. We all want at some level of what we see on TV shows. But it isn't there anymore.

Technology was meant to bring us closer together, but research is showing that people feel more alone in today's world than they did in the 90's, 80's and etc.

I myself have been thinking about this to. My mother is still alive, but I don't know her and in truth, I probably never did. We don't really talk or interact, therefore, all I truly have is my Sig other. I feel very much like an orphan. The one parent that loved me and I was close to is gone. I don't believe that we are alone in feeling this way. You are not alone Gershun I am in the same boat with you (feeling like an orphan).

May our Lord bring you peace and love through Jesus Christ heal your heart and wipe your tears in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sending you lots of hugs and love.

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Gershun, love those cats!   They're so similar in color; are they mother and daughter (the right one looks a bit younger).

I think siblings naturally grow apart as they age, create their own lives and families, especially in my generation and the current younger people.    When my parents grew up, they and their families often stayed close to each other, but people are much more mobile these days.

There was also a cohesiveness that I don't see as often, or perhaps that's just my experience.   A family often becomes a unit separate from siblings and their families.   And children's activities tend to emphasize focus on that family as priorities.

The Kennedys in my view were a good example though of family cohesiveness. 

I also think that various events intervene to lessen if not break the bonds, with caregiving being one of those significant events that can separate the participants from those who do not become involved.   Military families can become separated from blood families and create bonds with other families on base, especially since they often have more commonalities in those relationships.

I do think that less family cohesion may be a trend, but I think it also depends on what kinds of jobs the grown children take, whether those jobs require traveling or relocating, and to a great degree how involved families are with online communication, which can substitute at some level for family involvement.

There's also the issue of people becoming so absorbed in their online life that real people and real relationships aren't cultivated as much, and/or aren't as important.   

And, unfortunately, I think these separations are going to intensify as tech becomes more and more the norm in our lives.    I've seen, read and heard of families in which interaction and communication has diminished in just that family, b/c the younger generation is literally glued to their phones and don't even interact that much with their parents and siblings in their own homes.
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I am wondering if you are the oldest of the seven kids, and if the ages spread over a fairly long span. At 72 I am now quite close to my two sisters, but that wasn’t the case for two or three decades earlier on. In the middle years of life we are often busy ourselves, our children’s lives are busy too, and grandchildren can take up a lot of head space. As we get older still, we often think more about the past. Our siblings may be the only ones who share our memories, which becomes more important as time goes on. If you are the oldest, you may find that the others catch up in time.

I have sympathy with the way you feel, but I don’t think you should give up completely – and the same for Garden Artist and Shell. My sisters and I became much closer three or four years ago, when each of us had problems that we felt able to share with each other. There are some things that you find make sense when put into the perspective of your upbringing. Keep the doors open for your siblings, pick up on the opportunities that arise, and hope for the best. Best wishes, Margaret
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Thx Stacey, Sunnygirl, Isthisreal.

I'd like to say that I think I could bridge the gap with good old-fashioned kindness and affection but my family are and never were a real affectionate bunch. Touching is usually in the form of one of those duty hugs and air kisses that never quite reach your cheek at Christmas time. Even Christmas which used to be a mandatory, you better show up or else occasion has become quite spotty with different people bowing out each year. I admit I even suggested to my DH that we skip Christmas this year cause last year was awkward and strained. My one older sister who usually has it at her place has gotten to inviting her and her hubs friends to fill in the gaps which makes it even more awkward cause it's no longer a family event and more like a free for all, bring your own beer kind of thing.

I am not letting myself totally off the hook here. I could do more to try to bring the clan together and I did initially after mom died. But each member of my family bring their own unique challenges to that. My eldest brother has passed as I said. The second eldest lives out of town and has made no effort to come for Christmas ever since mom died four years ago. The one after that is mentally ill and we are having a crisis with him right now. The one after that has severe depression and her kids have drug problems. And on and on it goes. There are more siblings but you get the picture.

Just yesterday when discussing our mentally ill brother, I and my other brother got into it a bit. I made a constructively critical remark and he just freaked. I mean if I can't even be honest with my feelings cause someone might have a cow about it how can we ever draw closer as a family unit.

Sorry for going on about this but it's something that I've thought a lot about especially since mom passed and it weighs on me. I mean the first time I went to visit my sick brother in hospital, the one who I got into it with yesterday was so cold, distant and downright hostile that when he dropped me off afterwards I was in tears.

So, this may clear up why me doing my part is a little hard in light of these types of personalities. In fact one might wonder why I want a relationship with them in the first place.
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GardenArtist Aug 2019
Wow, Gershun, There are some family challenges that I think are weighing more heavily on you than the others.     But you're not responsible for and shouldn't feel so for those who aren't sensitive or compassionate.

I think you're hoping that peace will reign, but that you're more concerned about it than some others are.  And that's to  YOUR credit.  

I made the decision that after Dad died, I wouldn't continue with some members, who I cultivated just to keep the peace and ensure that other family members were involved during his last years.    

There was so much that challenged us in his last years, requiring sacrifices from both of us, that I'm really not amenable to compromising for someone who wasn't part of Dad's last years.
I’m experiencing the same thing. I’ve moved home to help my brother care for our parents. We were super close growing up. Now it feels like I’m living with strangers; people who don’t know me or even want to get to know me for that matter. My dad is a whole nother conversation in itself but my brother?! Never in 1,000,000 years could I have imagined we’d ever be this distant. 🤷🏾‍♀️
LIFE: Fickle
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Shell38314 Aug 2019
I was never close to my brother, but I thought my mother knew me
...I was wrong. I felt the same way when I moved back home!
I think every family is different.

But I do know this, regardless of what is going on in your or your families lives, do your best to try to forgive the past hurts if there are any for you to forgive.

Families are separating at a fast rate, judgment, everyone fends for themselves, and it is very sad.

I am in a situation, where I am not sure about my siblings, but my father is 92, and they show up there, but other than that, I never see them. I only can imagine how hard that is for my father. I was taught to always be honest, and if there was something that needed to be worked out, work it out. They came from the same family but are 10 and 8 years older.

It is one of those things that you cannot understand why, so you have to live your life the best you can, because no one is going to live it for you.

Reach out to people in this world and smile, there is too much anger, say hello, strike up a conversation.

I have a client in an independent living situation, and it is the brightest times of my life because she is so grateful.

Something has shifted in our lives and what I would say is be kind, never let anyone make you feel low, and always love and believe in yourself.

Good luck.

Remember: The only person we can control is ourselves.
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