Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Sibling Bond and Aging Parents

We just got home from the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina and a reunion with my husband’s brothers and their wives.

Visiting with family always reminds me of how the internal scripts and imprinted patterns that shape us continue their impact throughout our lives. I guess a broad range of emotions weave the tapestry of family life for all of us.

Like the sagas of Cain and Abel or Rachel and Leah, stories about sibling bonds are fascinating. Archetypal tales interest us because relationships with our own brothers and sisters can have a mix of love and rivalry, pride and resentment. And sibling rivalry, with its complex feelings of guilt, can lead to a cascade of emotions - empathy, shame, even manipulation.

Think about the specific dynamics between you and your siblings and how they have played out over the years. It’s not unusual for kids to feel that mom had a favorite - what impact did this have on your family? And consider what defines your relationships - birth order, personality, values, common interests, similar character traits?

Now look at what's going on between you and your siblings as your parents begin to decline.

The statistics are staggering. According to estimates from the National Alliance for Caregiving, 65 million Americans serve as family caregivers for an ill, disabled or aging relative. That's 29 % of the adult U.S. population involving 31 percent of all households. Some provide 20 hours of care a week, and only 1 in 10 who get help from others think the care is split equally.

It’s difficult when you have to take time away from work and family. And then there’s the added stress of caring for parents in decline. When faced with this kind of dilemma, many of us revert back to less adaptive attitudes and behaviors. Siblings can become inflexible and competitive instead of cooperative and collaborative when managing family problems.

Click on ‘comments’ below and share how your family is dealing with these inevitable challenges. And log on here Wednesday for tips that may help you begin to sort things out.

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