The parenting role is one that never ends. It starts from the moment you find out you’re pregnant and continues throughout life.
Parenting is a role that takes on many shapes and sizes. Nurturing, teaching, playing, providing undivided attention and care: parenting is a thankless job that we willing take on and give our all. Day and night, we don’t complain when we have to jump in at the spur of the moment to conquer the latest challenge. It’s a parent’s job.
But then life changes. Roles are reversed.
Adult children take on families of their own. They have spouses to share a life with, kids to raise, a home to care for. And suddenly a new challenge faces them: caregiving for a parent.
But in many families, it isn’t a single person job. Instead, it’s a job to be shared by all the siblings. And that’s when troubles begin.
Just because you grew up in the same household and currently are raising families of your own, doesn’t mean you’ll agree on the caregiving approach. Every problem will bring on new challenges. Every decision will cause every sibling to have a different opinion. The challenge is keeping everyone happy.
Listen … then talk. As early in the process as possible, sit down and go through all of the options available to you. If possible, get your parents’ input; knowing how they feel even when they can’t express it for themselves can sometimes help smooth the way. Never make a decision on your own. If you are approaching eldercare as a group, make decisions as a group. This creates an open line of communication and leaves no one feeling like they are left out or ignored. Don’t let things fester; solve issues as soon as they come up.
With caregiving, there are an unlimited number of tasks you’ll be working on each day, and you cannot do them alone. Start delegating these tasks as soon as they occur. Write them into a sibling contract if need be to keep your family on track.
Siblings in town may have more hands-on tasks while out of town family members may take on different roles, such as financial responsibility. You can also delegate time off for in-town siblings when out-of-town have the chance to return home.
It’s About Your Parents
Never forget that your parent’s needs take precedence when you are in direct caregiving mode. It’s easy to get off target as different situations arise. But caregiving isn’t a fluid task; one that follows a natural progression like raising an infant. Caregiving can throw you into a whirlwind of situations with no warning, and you’re stuck with dealing with it at the time it’s happening.
You’re all in this together. As siblings, realize that each of you does your best. It’s not about you; it’s about your parents. If your goal is to make your parent happy, it can ease the pain and frustration knowing you’re all in this together.