Providing care for a loved one is a huge responsibility, which is why many siblings decide to work together and become caregivers. Although this can be a great way for family members to share this responsibility, it is not uncommon for caregiving conflicts to arise.
Knowing how to resolve common caregiving conflicts among siblings is important for anyone providing care for a loved one, and the Family Caregiver Alliance provides some useful information on what these common conflicts are and how you can work to resolve them.
Common Conflicts & Their Causes
Why exactly are caregiving conflicts so common? One of the most common causes is that each sibling has their own idea for what is best for their parent. This type of disagreement can occur in practically any situation, and our emotions become even stronger when the decision directly impacts a loved one.
Is one sibling responsible for providing most of the care for your loved one? This could be another cause of conflict. Although caregiving is rewarding, that one sibling could become resentful that he/she isn’t receiving any help. A final possible cause is disputes over inheritance or other financial matters. 30 percent of adults providing financial support for an aging parent and a child barely have enough finances for their own basic living expenses according to the Pew Research Center.
There can be many other reasons why conflicts arise, but below are three examples of the most common caregiving conflicts among siblings:
1. “I’m doing all the work for my mom, but she still favors my younger brother.”
2. “You’re just exaggerating like always – dad’s doing just fine!”
3. “Why do we have to pay for mom and dad to move into a nursing home? Do you know how expensive that will be for us?”
How To Resolve These Conflicts
If you’re faced with any of the conflicts outlined above, here’s how to resolve common caregiving conflicts among siblings:
1. Discuss caregiving together as a family. Be compassionate towards yourself and your siblings. Remember that this is a new situation that equally impacts every member of your family, and be mindful of the fact that you’re all going through this emotional time together. However, use the fact that you’re all experiencing the same thing at the same time to help you work together to discuss your options at a family meeting.
2. View the current situation as objectively as possible. We know this is nearly impossible, but for the safety and health of your loved one, it is important that you realize that your own needs may be different from your parents. Realize that your siblings may also have ideas as to what is best for your loved one, and focus on what your loved one really needs to receive good care. Don’t make it into a competition between your siblings, which leads us to our next point.
3. Know when to take a step back. Watching your loved one age is a very emotional time, but acting out of emotional needs doesn’t help the situation. Here are some clues that you or your sibling needs to take a step back:
- Feeling disproportionate emotions to the current discussion or situation
- Criticizing a sibling’s behavior or feelings
- Believing that only you know what is best for your loved one
- Over-simplifying the discussion or situation
4. Be Prepared. Just like the Scout Motto, it is important to be prepared for elder emergencies before they happen. Have regular family meetings to make sure everyone is one the same page. Although this may seem insignificant, it can go a long way in offsetting any future conflicts that may arise among siblings.