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Sibling Rivarly Erupts During Parental Care

Life Lessons

Everyone knows what sibling rivalry is and how high emotions can be during an episode.  I have seen and been a part of situations where sibling rivalry explodes beyond volcanic proportions.  I am specifically referring to instances where there is more than one sibling caring for an aging parent.   Recently, I have encountered two situations with friends in which there has been extreme anger, resentment and anxiety around elderly parental care.  Most of the emotion has been the result of siblings having different comfort levels in which they deal with parental care.  The emotion also stems from one (or more) sibling(s) having expectations of another sibling(s).   

I have found that communication early, often and on a regular basis can serve to prevent resentment and anger when a parent passes away.  I have also found that setting realistic expectations, goals and roles for parental care sets to build a firm foundation in which siblings can operate.

In the same vain, I have found two easy to read articles that can serve as a basis for siblings to work together for their parents.  The Sibling Survival Guide serves to provide logical steps for siblings to work as a team.  AARP provides some easy steps for siblings to get along while they care for their aging parents.  

The reality is that parental care is rarely equitable.  One sibling may provide more caregiving, monetary support or a combination of all the above.   One sibling may feel slighted from their parents and want to provide as little support as possible.  When there are more siblings there tend to be more disagreements.  Whatever the case, it is important to get ahead of the disagreements for the betterment of parents.  

I have outlined some tips to help siblings become a dream team versus bitter rivals.

  1.  Develop a plan of action
  2. Set up monthly/bi-monthly meetings to make sure everyone is aware of the situation and can make decisions cohesively
  3. Make decisions together
  4. During EARLY discussions make sure each sibling is comfortable and proficient with handling tasks 
  5. Voice limitations (and be allowed to do so) as long as you are prepared to make up in other ways

If you learn you nothing else about this blog, please consider this quote by Rob Bingman.  “A building is only as strong as its foundation.”

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