I finally met with my brother last night to discuss my elderly parents and their precarious financial situation. My sister opted out of the meeting but asked that we tell her how it went. The meeting was good but emotionally draining. Our spouses were there and they both provided outside perspective which was great.
We spent a lot of time sharing our experiences both recent and past. My parents, are very secretive and manipulative with a long history of divide and conquer tactics that have put wedges between us siblings.This is the first time we have honestly shared in such a profound way. We talked about how we would like to change the old dynamic Both of us believe that will be necessary if we are to work together. We talked a lot about the abusive behavior of my parents when we were being raised, about the scars and how that abuse continues to this day. We were surprised at how similar our experiences were. It became very clear that isolating us and playing one sibling against the other was something my Mom excelled at.
Our spouses were relived to see us sharing. They both have been baffled by the our lack of any kind of sibling bond or contact (outside a few holiday celebrations). My husband was especially happy, because he knows the loss I feel over this situation.
Although a lot of the conversation was more cathartic than business at hand we did manage to make some headway on where we would like to go regarding dealing with my parents. It is clear our folks are making some frightening and poor choices. It is also clear that they have no intention of changing that course of action. Although we are gravely concerned over the likely consequences, there is little we can do. Our parents have unreasonable and inappropriate expectations of us, particularly of my brother at this time. More and more they are relying on him to help prop up a failed business that is draining them of their assets. They are swamped with debt and it won't be long before their creditors start legal action. My brother said he needs to walk away from involvement in my parents finances for his own sanity. I couldn't agree more. It is probable that when he does that my parents will turn on him with a vengeance. They will see it as a betrayal. I can't stop that but I can support him in his decision and I believe my sister will as well. We seem to agree on our goals which is huge but we are hoping to find consensus on how to move ahead with this. That, we don't all agree on. For example my sister does not want my parents to know we have been talking together. I understand her concern, they are prone to see conspiracy, and this will surely trigger that. It will also make it infinitely more difficult to deal with them as their dependence on us grows. However I don't see any way around it and neither does my brother.
Last night we talked about finding an outside/unbiased party to help us, preferably someone who is familiar with elder issues. The big drawback to that is cost. My counselor offered to dedicate one of our sessions to this because it is such a source of stress to me. My insurance covers that. Maybe that's an idea. Meanwhile if any of you can suggest an inexpensive form of family mediation I would much appreciate it.