When you have abusive parents, should siblings guilt each other over taking care of them? What is a reasonable way to decide ways and means. I've noticed that many people are trying to do it all themselves and are drowing. But what about the situation where one sibling wants Mom at home, and another says "she needs to be in assisted living, not under our roofs! Let's figure a cost and I'll be happy to pay my share and stay at a distance." My doctor warned me never to visit for any length of time, and never alone (believe it or not) for the sake of my mental health. Me: "But they're old!" Him: "So what!" I could not get my mind around this, for religious reasons. So, I talked to my pastor, who is a moral theologian. Told him that I needed a honest description of my duties to my parents (don't spare my feelings). He told me that a child's responsibility is to help their parents if they fall into destitution. It was perfectly moral for me to take the doctor's advice and never see my parents again. (They had money.)
I can't stress how grateful I am for this advice - otherwise I shudder and shake at what would have happened to me if I had fallen for the "conventional you owe your parents." What I'm trying to say is that, in any type of abusive history," be fair to siblings - at least in some cases they want to keep their distance for perfectly valid reasons. Of course, it financial help is needed, then all the kids have some obligations, but in terms of personal contact, don't fall for a parent who tries to use one sib against another. Nothing wrong with keeping distance. And it Mom or Dad tries to guilt you, just remember "what you sow, so shall you reap."

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Thanks everyone for your comments - you are right, we all have different histories. Reading over my original comment, I realize that I did not explain circumstances as clearly as possible. My brother controlled my mother and was verbally abusive to my dad, but dad would not leave the home. I would have been willing to help him, but he had to choose to take steps to get out. I don't think you can help someone who refuses to take necessary steps to be helped. And my brother wanted to control the whole situation - as far as I can see, my sisters and myself were to be the drudges doing the work. Had any of us daughters tried to get involved it would have led to endless arguments and battles. I really feel that sad though it was, the situation could not be mended and avoiding neverending conflict was the better choice in our case.
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How do you handle sibling disagreements over care of parents? I bet this happens in every family. I examine my own conscience and do what I think is right, and I expect them to do the same.
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Each sibling has their views on what is acceptable and what isn't. Your pastor may have given you advice but that doesn't mean you have to follow it or that your siblings agree with his thoughts. Personally, whether parents are financially stable or not, doesn't make any difference in my thinking that it is the children's responsibility to look after their parents. However, I also understand that we are all products of our lives and experiences, so you may very well have good reason to want to keep your distance.

I come from a loving, close family. Yet, when it came time to make some decisions about how far do you go in caring for an ailing senior citizen/parent...or how far do you want/allow the medical care to brother, sister and I did not agree. Life experiences, religion and other factors painted our different opinions on life & death decisions. has forever changed my relationships with them and my opinions of them.

The more siblings there are, the better likelihood you won't agree. Your and your siblings' experiences, religion, and other opinion shapers will differ and vary. If you are content with your decisions, then you have to tell your siblings what your views are and stick with them. But, just as you want them to respect your opinion, you have to respect their's...eventhough you may think it's wrong and does not agree with yours.

You have to be at peace with your approach and hope that you will still feel that way later. There is always the possibility that later...after the parent's may have second thoughts, with no way to change anything. But, there is no way to predict that now.

My best advice is to inform your siblings of your feelings. They may not agree with your opinion or approach, but the knowledge may curb the wondering of what's up with you and for them to get their understanding of what to expect from you straight.
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It gets arranged differently for each family, that's for sure.
Guilt trips, manipulations, etc., perpetrated by abusive parents, can be epic.
Unfortunately, the kids learn some amount of dysfunctional behaviors from the parents....and the beat goes on.
In the end, my siblings all started spewing Mom's sick-headed agendas at me, even as they were moving her out of our home. Mom was grossly inappropriate, the whole time they were moving her out of here, yet they didn't seem to notice.
It continued after, EXCEPT, as beat-down as I had become from her being here for years, by that time, I started recognizing the games they were playing
....all the "hooks" designed to get me dragged back into their dramas.
They started to shut me out several years ago, due to Mom's telling them all sorts of garbage.
They chose to believe it all, hook, line, and sinker.
Now, they play the game of not understanding why I let them all go.

What they do not understand, is that Mom always had to have someone to berate and dog as a devil in her life
...I knew I was in trouble, when the last one she targeted, died
--I knew, because of how she lived her life, that I would be the next big target to cull from her herd.
She finally managed to do that.
Sad thing is, the rest of them seem clueless as to what happened; they tell themselves and their friends it's my fault for shutting them out,
and how heartless I am for shutting them out.
They shut me out for several years, while Mom was doing her thing here--not even a kind word of thanks for me taking Mom in here.
I let them go, in the interests of retaining what's left of my sanity.
Mom shattered my soul so badly this time, she does not get another chance at it.
Since they have shown they will keep doing what Mom has done,
I have no energy left to allow them more attacks--not one word more of it.

I am so glad your Pastor said what he did!
SO many people mistakenly think they have to keep subjecting themselves to repeated abuse, convinced that is what was meant by "honoring one's parents".
Pastor was right--subjecting yourself to continued abuse, is DIShonoring YOU AND your own family,
and helping, in Christian terms, the devil do his worst.

Honoring your parents means making sure they are taken care of, in a facility if necessary, at a distance, if necessary.
It has nothing to do with allowing yourself to repeatedly be harmed.

I am so glad that message got across!
Your Doc was entirely correct--though poor at describing it how you could understand it within a religious context.

I did "due diligence" honoring Mom for many years, sending money monthly, so they had more to live on, even when it meant my family doing without, often.
Then when she begged to come live with us,
I suckered for that, hoping we could have some quality time together--sheesh!
Was I ever delusional!

Mom has always been a master manipulator; has some mental ills.
She didn't treat her kids equally, though she believed she did, and if ever she thot she had not, she felt terrible guilt for it, and tried to make up for it
--even when it was entirely unrealistic and forced others to do things they didn't want to do.
As much as she tried to prevent her kids being harmed by her own abusive parent, the damaged within her was so deep, she ended up perpetrating some of that on us kids.
I recognized what was what, as a kid, and did what I could, to stop that behavior from being perpetrated on our own kids
--yet, realize, at the other end of my life, that no matter what I did to avoid her behaviors, I ended up perpetrating some of them, too.

Society has a LONG way to go, starting with lots of early childhood development work, to do any serious prevention of abusive, bullying behaviors in future generations.

I am sincerely glad for you, to have gotten good advice,
and hope you find just the right place for your folks,
so you and your sibs do not let them hurt you anymore!

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Rovana, I have found great comfort and wisdom in a compassionate book called "Loving Someone Who Has Dementia" by Pauline Boss. Here is what Dr. Boss has to say about caregiving someone who has been abusive:

Taking care of someone who years before was abusive or neglectufl of you is beyond what is expected of you. Caring for a family member who was or is physically or psychologically abusive is dangerous. Feeling as if you want to retaliate is also dangerous. These are justifiable reasons for NOT being a caregiver."
"Talk with someone about your options. Other people can do the hands-on work. If the patient is financially able, set up a plan for professional care. If not, talk with the county social worker to find out about alternatives."

I am so glad that your doctor and your pastor share this wisdom.

Protecting yourself comes first. It comes ahead of what you "owe" your siblings. If the abuse was general, and one or more of the children chooses to do hands-on caregiving anyway, that is their decision and they should not expect that everyone else is obligated to go along. And if the abuse was directed at only certain children, then it is totally unrealistic for the others to expect their full participation in the care.

When there is abuse in the background, that changes everything. Take care of yourself first.
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My sister and I take care of mom alone. Two other sisters do nothing but cause extreme problems. One sister lives right next door to mom but has never offered to help. She took mom out of the hospital against doctors orders without meds or oxygen. Sshe tells mom she does not have dementia and that my sister and I can put her in thenursinghomewhenever we want. She recently made another false abuse report on me to DSS. I am going to take her to court to take away her visiting if I can. I am so stressed and depressed!
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SSansgal, I'm right there with you. I gave up on both my non communicative, useless siblings months ago. It took a long, long time though. You'll feel better when you let go of the resentment, but it is nothing anyone can tell you to do; it just happens. So pray it happens soon!! hee, hee...Both my siblings go on with their "important" lives and I continue to clean up (literally) after both my parents. Ugh...whatever. They just suck.

Madge - I agree and I don't agree, when ALL the heavy lifting gets thrown on one child. If a child doesn't want responsibility for a parent, that's one thing, but abandoning your siblings when THEY step up? I think that's very selfish. Moral support at the minimum would be nice. I get nothing.... My abusive Dad is in a NH and he will stay there instead of me going to all sorts of lengths to get him care in a rented condo and have him continue to verbally abuse my mother till he's dead. So I agree with you. But I still do his laundry, take Mom to see him, visit him. Where are the other two siblings?? Gone.....God help them when my parents die. They won't even get a phone call from me.
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I also find myself in the solo role of caring for my 97 yr old father. I can hardly talk to my only sibling, a brother, who had turned his back on this responsibility. Letting me take on all that is involved with caregiving. I've always gotten along with my brother, never having an argument or disagreements. I now see a different side of him, a selfish side. I also notice his phone calls are less and less. I almost feel he just doesn't want to know what's going on because I probably make him feel guilty telling him the issues. It's very frustrating and I find myself constantly trying to figure out what to say or do to wake him up. In saying that, I'm starting to just give up on him. It annoys me to think he can go on with his life, come and go as he pleases, and not think of me or our father. So sad!
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Ellenjay, you have done what you feel is right. Some of us do not see it that way. I am one of those. You can be there for a parent but someone else may be better at giving the hands on attention they need, i.e., nursing homes, in home care or assisted living. To take care of someone who has abused you is just plain abuse in itself. The bible says many things and many things are attributed to the bible which are not even in the bible. Honoring you parents is great, but you also don't provoke your children.

I agree with doctor's advice.
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You have to be there for your folks no matter what. Honor them as much as possible. My mom was very selfish with her life, leaving a grandparent with me so she and my dad could go and do what they wanted for months at a time. It was hard with little kids to also care for, but I will still care for her as she needs to be cared for because she is my mother.
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Everyone's situation is different, Rovana. I'm glad you could find peace within yourself that it was ok to walk away from your aging parents. I did not. I chose to move my parents closer to me to "help" care for them and I got all that came with that. Dementia, a self-medicating mother, five surgeries and a sibling who got a lawyer because she thinks I took their money. Obviously, she takes after the crazy parent!!! And two siblings that vanished completely and left me with all the responsibility and all the headaches. While it has devastated my life, I know in the end I'm ok with having cared for them. Keeping distance is one thing. Leaving everything to one sibling and saying "no" when they ask you for help, is another, wrong, and selfish. Will you be ok having walked away? If so, you're one strong person.
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We are 4 siblings and we are taking care of our Dad since last 8 years. We all live in different places in India. Dad gets in to dementia / delirium quite often.He needs assistance for movement from bed. He is 90.
We have followed a simple philosophy - The person with whom he is staying decides how to take care. No one else shall advise. Home is better than institution.
The money will be contributed by the persons who can afford. The person who is taking care can ask some body to come and relieve or send the Dad to his place for definite period. One good part for this to work is there is no property involved so there are no misunderstandings.

The philosophical side is- though he was abusive when we were small , he did his best possible according to him. We should also do the best possible according to us. No stress since there is no comparison with what should be ideal.
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This is more common than not when the stressors of trying to help older parents exists. People begin to stress over who will do what and how they can fit it into their schedules. The best thing I have witnessed is to ask an objective party to talk with each sibling independently regarding what they are willing and able to contribute, put all personal differences aside, focus on what needs need to be addressed and how each person can provide help according to their own strengths, AND THEN GER TOGETHER . Some may be good at care giving , some at financial management, some emotional support...An uninvolved , neutral party can sometimes see the forest for the trees better than those of us involved in the situation...the key is to maintain the goal of 'we are here to help our parent and support HER choices to the best of our ability"....
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