How do you handle sibling resentment?

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Hello


I am new here, as my parents (83 and 87) just moved across the country to be closer to me. They are residing in a condo. They are fairly independent but depend on me and my husband for rides and bills/maintenance. I think they would have benefited with assisted living, but they don't want that, so this is the first step. They know no one yet, but I am trying to see what kinds of seniors services are available. (which is more difficult because while they speak English, it is not their first language and appears to be declining as they age). Anyway, this has been in the making for a few months now, and over time, even though it is still "new", I already have a high level of resentment against my only other sibling, who can't share any of the burden because she lives in another country.


We both have young families and we both work, but I am the default caregiver due to location. She knows it's hard and feels bad, but can't do any of the day to day help. I also feel she doesn't quite "get" how much time and sacrifice it actually takes and my parents are still fairly independent! I really can't find much sympathy when she complains about the things she does help with, because it still is less that what is on my plate. I know this is very common, but how does one not let the resentment overtake them? I guess I have nowhere to direct my resentment except at her, even though logically I know it is not her fault.

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Be careful to set boundaries with your parents, and stick with them. Or before you know it, their care will completely consume your life.

So they don't want assisted living. What else don't they want? Rides from someone else other than you and your husband? Any kind of help from someone other than your family?

What were their expectations in moving close to you? Do they expect to eventually move in with you?

I am the local child, and my three brothers live out of state. I have set very firm boundaries with my mother. She is not happy about it. But being around for even a short amount of time gets me anxious. I will not sacrifice myself for her happiness. She should be in an Assisted Living facility, but flat-out refuses.
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Reply to CTTN55
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Hi Cdn,
What did you say when your parents started talking about moving closer to you? Did you encourage it? Did you discourage it? We're you honest in warning them you do have a full plate now and might find yourself overwhelmed? Did you suggest AL before they moved into the condo? Did you just kind of sit by and let them make all the decisions for all of you?

I ask all these questions because when I have a resentment, I must first look at the part I played in it.

How much of the responsibility is mine?

Next look at sissy. She can not do what you are doing, period. Geographically it's impossible, you knew this. Why resent her now? What would you gain if she actually *knew* all you do for your parents? Would you feel like the bigger person? Would you want praise or pat's on the back? What do you want from her, that would make your life easier?

Believe me Cdn, I'm NOT trying to put you down. I go through this routine Everytime I have a resentment. It's about being honest with ourselves.

And the truth is, none of this has anything to do with Sissy. You're feeling this caregiving is more then you bargained for and need someone to blame......Sissy wins!

I know this is hard on you. You probably feel like you're basically running 2 households. It's going to get harder as their needs increase. Start talking about Assisted Living. Be honest with them about the stress this is causing you. Hopefully before they get too needy, they will have softened to the idea of AL.

Good luck!
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Reply to Pepsee
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Dear cdnbluejay,

I hear you. There is a lot on your plate and it is only natural that we have resentment against our siblings.

Honestly, I didn't handle it well and to this day even after my father's passing, I still have it. I think it was cultural and my own people pleasing ways that got me into trouble. I have been reading this article called "Rescuing, Resentment and Regret." Of course, we want to help our parents but at the same time it is overwhelming.

I personally regret not talking more honestly with my father and my siblings. I stuffed down my own needs and wants for so long that I didn't even know how to articulate how burned out I was. There is a heavy price to pay for that.

Be as clear as possible with your parents. Talk honestly and maybe even involve a social worker. The feeling of resentment is a red flag.
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Hi cdnbluejay -

I am familiar with the resentments towards siblings. Two of mine lived nearby (one has since died) but I was still doing the lion's share of the work for Mom. I have two suggestions for you.

One is to find other resources to take your place for mundane tasks. If your parents have money for paid care, that should be fairly easy. My mother has no spare money, but I found a local woman (actually a close friend of mine) who was willing to watch over Mom in return for a place to live. That situation has lasted over two years now, and has saved me from having to live with Mom, who really can't live alone at this point.

The other suggestion is to refuse to do tasks that make you especially resentful. Your parents may be the most appreciative, least demanding people on the planet, but my mother is not. There are a lot of things she would like me to do for her that I simply won't do, like cook dinner for her every night. I did that for a while and I just resented it too much. It really brought up the "Why am I the one who always gets stuck with this?" feeling. Same thing with most of the menial chores Mom would like me to do for her. I don't even like my own chores, let alone hers, and especially when the load is distributed so unfairly and my siblings (the out of town ones) get off scot-free.

I also agree with those posters who talked about putting all the bills online, having groceries ordered for delivery, and helping them find solutions that they can manage rather than jumping in to do things for them. I have to say my mother was not at all amenable to that, unfortunately. For a long time my mother was able to do some routine chores, like taking out the trash and walking her dog, using her power scooter. She wouldn't do it though. When I asked her why, she told me "I like for you to do it." N-O to that!

It's important to not let your resentment build and to try to keep it in check. I don't mean by controlling your emotions, I mean by choosing your actions carefully to avoid situations where resentment is likely to build up. I have actually had this conversation with my mother.  She has told me she doesn't care if I have resentment or not as long as I do what she asks.  I told her that just doesn't work for me.  I don't want to feel resentful of her or my siblings. It's very unpleasant and demoralizing, so for my own sanity I try to keep it to a minimum.
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I have struggled with resentment as well. I am the live-in caregiver for my mom with Parkinson's. My 2 brothers and sister all live nearby, but help out minimally. What helps me is knowing I won't have regrets, whereas they will. My faith helps too. God has called me to be a caregiver, therefore He has also equipped me.
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Hi CDN
Welcome to the forum. About resenting your sister. Some people act as if ‘Happiness is knowing who to blame.’
I think you are very wise to realize that your sister is in less of a position to help out with your parents than you are and even though it’s not her fault you can’t help but think how lucky she is in comparison.

Does everyone in your family speak your parents primary language? Are you all defaulting to that language when speaking to one another and to them? 
If so, you might want to consider if that could be contributing to them losing the ability to speak English?? Sister can help with that.

You mention that you and your husband are taking on chores for your parents.
Try to stop that. The more chores you do when your feet hurt, you are stressed with your own life issues and you need some TLC for yourself, you will wish your sister would take over. You won’t blame your parents who aren’t ready for an ALF but evidently NEED assisted living. You’ll blame your sister!!

You can call the Area Agency on Aging and ask them to come do a needs assessment and help you find senior services available to them.

Your parents need to find transportation.
If they aren’t computer literate they need to make you a grocery list where you can order online for them. Bills should be set up online. Minimize what you do for them. They will become more and more dependent if you allow it. That’s not good for any of you. 

Establish clear boundaries. Otherwise your parents won’t realize they need help because you and your husband will be doing everything.

If your mom is caretaking your father make sure she gets help with the house so she doesn’t wear down. But you don’t do it, you have your own responsibilities. You help her find help. That’s your contribution.

Remember Boundaries. 
If you think it’s hard now, you won’t believe how hard it is when they are entrenched in that condo not speaking English and dependent upon you for every service. You won’t just resent your sister you will begin to loathe your sister. It will grow as your parents neediness grows. 

Try to limit the time hands on caretaking. Spend the time on helping them find solutions that they can manage. Allow them to realize that they are needing more than they can manage on their own. Not to be negligent but to keep you all based in reality. 
They sound very considerate but fear and loneliness can erode their confidence as they develop health issues and become confused. Pace yourself.   
Encourage them to hire help as needed. 

When the time comes for them to move to AL, hopefully they will realize it’s the right decision. Sister should be your partner in encouraging them to seek outside help to run their lives. 

Remember with boundaries you will be able to manage your life, care for your parents and not resent your sister. 

When you feel anger towards your sister, check to see where you are overextended. 
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Thank you all for the replies, I am reading all the suggestions. I can't use some of them as I am not in the US. However, as suggested, I'm already looking for solutions so that they are not completely dependent on me. Either rides, and socialization. Once I get that established, I think that will help alot. I'm getting the message loud and clear to set boundaries! Yes, I will try to do that. I don't have to do the cleaning or cooking yet (I have no time for that anyway). The management of bills doesn't take too much time, they only thing I see which could take alot of effort is if their health gets worse. I will have to figure that out when it comes.

I know I have to let go of the feeling that I have to take care of all their needs. I think part of the problem is the pressure I put on myself. However, reading this forum actually helps alot. Lots of good advice and just knowing that others face the same fears and frustrations. (Though sorry that we all have to face this!)
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CDN, please keep in mind that preferences are not needs. I'd love to have a limousine take me to my job, but it isn't going to happen. I take the bus and that is life!
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"And the truth is, none of this has anything to do with Sissy. You're feeling this caregiving is more then you bargained for and need someone to blame......Sissy wins!"

Yep, you are right. I'm trying to reframe my thinking, so that's the point of this post. I know others have resentment too, just wondering what they did about it?

I did play a part in this. We suggested they move closer to me years ago (healthier then), but they have always refused. In recent times, circumstances have changed so they do realize they need more assistance now. My father would be ok to the idea of AL, but my mother is not. I suppose if one dies, they would be more open to it. They don't want to live with me as they don't want to burden me too much. In any case, I don't think my husband would agree with them (or one) living with it, so if it reaches that point, they will have to go to AL, like it or not.

And it is not that I don't want to help them, I do. I am glad they no longer have to worry about coping on their own. My parents are actually very thankful for my help. I guess I just wish I didn't have to do it all, and I am trying to find senior services so I don't actually have to do it all. (rides, social activities). I know there is no point in resenting my sister, but there it is, and I know I have to deal with it.
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CarlaCB: " She has told me she doesn't care if I have resentment or not as long as I do what she asks. " Do we have the same mother? Also, my mother would like for me to do more for her.

The other day she was complaining that I didn't shut the fan/AC off before I turned off the car. First of all, I DO shut it all off, and, second, she can't see out of her left eye, so how would she have even noticed?

I told her that anytime she didn't like my taxi service, that she was free to get another one. Then she snarled at me, "I'll charge it to YOU!" I don't think my mother even has the wherewithal anymore to deal with a taxi (mostly because of her bad hearing). I felt like snarling right back at her, "And then *I* will charge it to Sonny-No-Show (the golden-boy brother who never visits)!
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