Has anyone been able to maintain a healthy relationship with siblings who have ignored your requests to help with Mom and Dad? - AgingCare.com

Has anyone been able to maintain a healthy relationship with siblings who have ignored your requests to help with Mom and Dad?


Has anyone been able to maintain a healthy (or at least somewhat satisfying) relationship with siblings who have ignored your requests to help with mom and dad, and reacted with disdain when you talk about the difficulties of being a caretaker? If we continue on the path we're headed, my kids and I won't have anyone but one another. I'm not sure that's fair to my kids. On the other hand, is a relationship with people who only (occasionally) show up for the parties, worth investing in? I'm pretty disgusted at the moment, at how everyone expects us to give up hours per day/week/month without so much as a call or text to show even minimal support. I understand they won't change. But, if you have positive thoughts or coping mechanisms on how to maintain relationships after such egregious neglect, please share. Hugs to everyone doing this labor of love. I'd love to read examples of people who were able to maintain relationships with neglectful family members. Anybody rise above? I feel like divorcing my sibs, and I might. But want my kids to have some family in the area. I need some inspiration.

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That makes life a bit easier! - they're old enough to make their own choices and develop their own relationships. You don't have to feel responsible for what they think of or decide to do about their uncles, aunts and cousins.

Which means, you are free to divorce yourself from your siblings if you like; but do at the same time try not to badmouth them to your children or force the children to take sides. Let the children come to their own conclusions.

I'm afraid I can't advise on rising above because I failed to, utterly, and now have no contact with my siblings. But as far as I know, my three children are still in regular touch with their cousins and Facebook friends with their aunts.
Helpful Answer (14)

I think it is important to remember that everyone makes different chooses. My husband and I choose to have my mom, stage 7 Alzheimer's, live with us. Others on this site choose to place their LO in a facility. Some siblings want to be actively engaged in caregiving, others do not. Some people visit their parents often, others do not. I try to remember that my way is not necessarily the best or right way. I also try to remember that my choice does not dictate my siblings choices. Just because we have chosen to have mom with us does not mean they must help us to do so. We all should just honor each other's choices.
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In reading everyone's answers, SuzeeQ, it occurred to me, for those like myself, who resent their siblings for not helping with the care of a parent or parents...that my resentment takes away from my ability to be fully present with my mother in love and appreciation.

My soul screams out for the rejection, I know she cannot help but feel––don't they realize how fleeting the time they have to spend with her is now? !!! Expletive, expletive, etc.,

When I was a child my mother read to me from the Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and as far as I know, she read it to my two older sisters and my brother as well. When my mother read, "On Children," I remember it made my heart ache without my fully understanding why, and now as an adult I do.

Your Children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

There are other stanzas, but what I have shared here is what comes to mind, every now and then, when I work myself into righteous anger over what I view as my sibs lack of gratitude for the angel, that gave birth to us, and set us all free from any obligation, almost from the start.

It will take practice to let go of any and all resentment towards my sibs, and I suppose it does not matter if I give them ultimatums or create ones in my mind. The only thing that matters is my relationship with my mother. While she may not be able to visit me in the house of tomorrow, she will always be with me in the mansion of the heart.

So thank you for posting here SuzeeQ, because, it made me realize that I am not going to waste anymore of the precious time remaining with my mother, resenting my truly worthless sibs.

:) Just injecting a little humor.
Helpful Answer (13)

First, I feel your pain. Sibling rivalry and other dynamics don't stop when we turn 21. (Or 31 or 41 or 51 or 61 or ....).

What I have continued to learn is that priority #1 is to have a good relationship with myself, which means not repeating stories to myself that upset me. Even if the stories show every evidence of being accurate. Example: "What a jerk that she won't even bother to send a card" is only going to fuel my anger. It's a choice I don't have to make. Sometimes I'm able to just drown out that soundtrack; sometimes I edit it. Example of edit: "What a shame that they really don't understand how much they and their contact mean to Mom". Or "I wish I could find a way to help them find the joy of sending a card every month instead of trying to ignore and avoid the guilt of not contributing in bigger ways."

Point being -- What other people do or don't do does not have to determine the quality of my life. What DOES determine that quality is what I choose to focus my mind on -- the stories I'm telling myself over and over. My subconscious mind thinks of that as instruction and begins to seek out evidence to prove I'm right. I'd rather be right about the sadness of people just not being very aware than about the resentment of them being inconsiderate or worse. I can maintain a relationship with someone for whom I feel sadness; it's much harder to do that with someone for whom I feel resentment or anger.

Knowing that I can't change my siblings is one part of the equation. Knowing that I am ridiculously in charge of the quality of my own life is the second and far more powerful part. And it helps for me to remind myself that it was me who chose to have Mom living with us and if she eventually requires AL or NH placement, it will be me making those decisions. No one else to fete or fault. I made the choice, knowing that they live in other states, have busy lives and other challenges of their own. It's a bit harder with my sister who is local, finding the balance of her participation. She did not volunteer for the caregiving role, yet when our jobs moved us to the same area where she lives, she has been a rock about providing respite care. Sometimes I have to edit that story, too. Instead of "does she really think giving us space for a Saturday night date equals the balance for all the nights I'm up at 3 AM with bathroom duty?" To "with all the 3 AM bathroom duty I pull, it is a real treat to occasionally just have night out -- or the occasional weekend or annual week off -- with my husband." So my relationship with her is remaining strong and growing stronger. My other siblings are doing the best they can by the lights they have, and I'm healthier, happier, and more energetic when I accept that and focus on what I can do to take good care of Mom without totally giving up my own life. It's really a pretty simple mind shift, but I'm amazed at (1) how I resisted it for so long; and (2) the enormous improvement once I began to make it a habit. It's so freeing to not let their deeds or non-deeds be in charge of my emotions.

Oh, final interesting fact: There are studies which demonstrate that an emotion will not last more than 90 seconds unless it is fueled by a "story". So on days I'm feeling resentful, if I can use those 90 seconds to really focus on a non-hostile story, the emotion will have evaporated and my day can continue in serenity
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Seven kids in my family. The four girls looked after Mom. One brother visited her often, in her apartment and in the NH. He and his girlfriend played cards with her. His own mental health made him unsuitable to do decision-making for her, but he was a wonderful visitor. Another brother was dealing with throat cancer the years Ma was in the NH and he lived a couple of hours away. He made the trip to see her every couple of months. The other brother? He had a young family and he was extremely active with them. But all of us girls thought he could/should have made time for his mother, too. I don't know why he didn't. We asked him for 2 hours twice a month, to drive Ma from one sister's to the other, for respite. I think he did that twice in 14 months. His four kids are my nieces and nephews. His wife is a lovely person. He's a decent guy, too, except for this strange lapse. Cutting him out of my life would be a loss for me, and would change nothing about him. So we go on as before. Last week I chose to sit at a table with him at a graduation party.

Each of my sibs and I got to choose our level of involvement in our mother's care. For the years my mother's needs overlapped my husband's dementia my own involvement was limited. Taking care of my husband was a "good" reason to be absent, my brother's cancer was a "good" reason. I don't know exactly what the absent brother's reason was. I don't think I get to judge whether it was a good or not.
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Just yesterday I asked eldest brother in law to visit his dad so that my husband and I could get away and know that his dad would be visited by his eldest son. BIL said he's too busy. This is the same BIL who always says "Let me know how I can help." I agree that people make their own choices. I'd rather BIL just stop with the empty talk and pretending he cares. That would feel less insulting.
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Dear SuzeeQ, two years after last parent passed on, I am still struggling with the aftermath of the severe hits my financial situation had to take in order to do that work for both of them. My sibs act as if I deserve to live in poverty now because it was "my choice" to provide my parent's care at home. When children see their cousins able to go on cruises, ski vacations, Disneyland, etc., it is painful to see the bewilderment in their eyes. The only way I can interact with my sibs now, is superficially, cheerful and light, within time limits, dealing with my own feelings afterward, to heal and release, so the bitterness (abandonment/lack of support) doesn't damage me. It also helps to read up on narcissism. I think that's what many of us are dealing with -- sibs who are completely caught up in narcissistic modes of living. Whether they'll ever be held accountable for their soul choice in this life, is not my business. My business is to make the ethical and loving choices for myself, and follow through with what I wish to be accountable for.
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Nope and do not try any longer. Too much energy and stress. Now have ex-sibs. That is much better for me instead on the endless hoping things could change. It was exhausting.
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All I can say is, it really sucks. I haven't been anywhere but work, the store or my mother's doctor's office in 2 years. My life is no longer mine, it belongs to everyone else. My mother is 95 with dementia and very low mobility, incontinence, and constant questions repeated over and over and over. Siblings don't help at all. I am 62 and have arthritis in my back and knees. I am totally exhausted. No breaks in all this time. I gave her my bedroom and moved my bed into the living room. No privacy at all. The only bright spot is we live in an apartment attached to my brother's house so I don't have to pay rent, I just pay half the utility bill. My sister in law makes sure my mother does not come out of the apartment but she has a lot of health issues and can't help with any of the day to day drudgery involved. I get up at 4 or 5 every morning so I can have time to clean her up, dress her, empty her potty, put her bed clothes and pjs in the washer (she wets through 2 depends every night, give her her meds and give her breakfast before I go to work. Then I rush home at my lunch hour, clean up any incontinent issues, fix her lunch and head back to work. I come home and clean her again, clean the potty if she remembers to use it (she can no longer make it to the bathroom) put her pjs on her, cook supper, give her her night meds and feed her. Answer a hundred questions (not kidding, she asks the same things over and over because she can't remember what the answer is from one minute to the next) and fall into bed at 8 pm. Everyone tells me it's not forever, but what they don't realize is that it may be my forever. I am just so tired. I have no advice to give anyone. It's just hard and sucks to be a caregiver. Good luck to you all, you will need it.
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Sometimes a parent's favoritism toward a certain child get in the way of siblings helping in their care. In my case, my sister is the favorite and she is the one my mother wants in control of every aspect of her care and finances. Since I live a state away from my mother and siblings (also have 2 brothers) I have offered to take over the task of paying my mom's bills and being involved in her financial matters, but my sister wants total control of all that, so that will never happen. There is little I can do to help my mom from this distance, and when I call she usually doesn't answer the phone. She has no voicemail set up so there is no way to leave a message. So she probably complains to everyone that I never call, but I do try to stay in touch with her. The more my calls go unanswered, the more hesitant I am to continue calling, thinking she really doesn't want to hear from me. I sometimes feel like a bird pecking on the window, never able to get in. My mom doesn't really like talking on the phone like she used to when she felt better, which I can understand. I am estranged from my sister (by my choice) since my father died about 10 yrs ago (long story). So there is little to no communication between her and me. I am just not in their "clique", which is what my family seems like to me. I am and always have been the scapegoat. So although I care about my mom and wish I could be more involved in her care, circumstances make it impossible. When I go to visit her, usually I stay in a hotel and spend all my waking hours with my mom. I often hear afterward (from my brother) that I am being accused of stealing something from my mom's apt by my sister, who convinces our mother of it. This starts the whole cycle over again and is extremely upsetting to me, to the point of where I have even had hair loss over it. Can you imagine being an educated wealthy person and hear that you have been accused of stealing something of little value - like a piece of junk jewelry? It is demeaning to say the least, and so contrary to my character - something that I would never do. Last time I went to visit my mom she was distributing some of her "valuables" and we were drawing numbers and my brother chose my mom's nursing pin. It was on a table between him and me when I saw my sister come over from across the room and grab it. So next day my mom asked me who ended up with her pin, and I told her what I saw, so she called my sister and asked her about it. My sister flatly denied having the pin! So my mom was upset thinking it was lost and said she had also been missing a necklace for some time. I helped her search for both in her jewelry drawer for 20 minutes with no luck. About a month later in a phone conversation my mom said she found the pin and the necklace in that very drawer!! But she still can't fathom that my sister would be lying about it all. She would rather assume it was me, since her favorite can do no wrong. So makes me really thankful that I don't live there and that I don't have to be involved on a daily basis. It is just too emotionally painful and I just think my sister wants to keep driving a wedge between my mom and me, and it has been working pretty well so far. As long as my mom continues to trust her lying conniving daughter, this daughter, who is a good and trustworthy person, doesn't stand a chance. So my point in sharing this is that sometimes there is much more going on that causes a sibling to distance themselves from the family. It is sad but I have accepted it as something beyond my control.
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