Providing care for a parent can bring out the best and the worst in sibling relationships. Ideally, the experience of caregiving is a time for siblings to come together and provide mutual support to one another. However, as a stressful transition, the pressure can also lead to strained connections and painful conflict.
One major source of sibling friction is the legacy of family dynamics. Invariably, the demands of caregiving bring out old patterns and unresolved tensions. Past wounds are reopened and childhood rivalries reemerge. It is not unusual for adult children to find themselves replaying their historical roles in the family, recreating old dynamics of competition and resentment as they vie for mom’s attention and affection.
Another conflict can arise when one sibling is in denial over a parent’s condition. Adult children who seem unable to accept the reality of a parent’s illness and refuse involvement may be protecting themselves from facing a parent’s eventual death and their own loss. More active siblings may react with bitterness and anger.
Most often though, discord surfaces from the unequal division of caregiving duties. Generally, one sibling takes on the primary role of caring for a loved one. This may be because he or she lives closest to a parent, is perceived as having less work or fewer family obligations, or is considered the “favorite” child. Regardless of the reasons, this situation can lead the overburdened caregiver to feel frustrated and resentful and other siblings to feel uninformed and left out.
Resolving these conflicts can be challenging. But ignoring the difficulties in a caregiving situation can create greater challenges. Ultimately, strained family relationships can impede a family’s capacity to provide the greatest quality of care to a parent. How can families come together in caregiving? Here are some suggestions:
Make a powerful impact On the lives Of your neighbors In their time Of greatest need.Learn More
Receive the latest news about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities And more.Subscribe