Siblings coming together

The hardest part for any child is to watch a parent work through a terminal illness. Growing up, we think our parents are indestructible that they’re going to be around forever. It’s also hard if as a child, you haven’t had the best of relationships with that parent.

But as children no matter the relationship, we’re expected to do our bit for our parents when the time comes, but children will always have their own reasons for the way they play things. When that time comes, they will approach their parent’s illness differently.

One child may help because they feel they don’t have a choice, another child may be coerced into the relationship through deceived loyalty that starts in childhood, particularly if they’re dealing with a disability. Another child may see it as their mission to get that parent through their illness, because it’s what they’ve always done. It may also be brought about through guilt, for us to do what’s right, because we’ve been primed and we’d feel bad if we didn’t.

Whatever our initial reasons, it is assumed that when a parent is diagnosed with an illness their children will share a common goal to look after that parent and work together. But instead what often emerges are already formed patterns with no common bond to speak of, patterns where the children’s main interests, unconsciously lie with themselves, rather than with the parent.

It’s not that the focus turns away completely from the parent, but how siblings interact, or want they want for that parent; will differ through their individual experiences with that parent. One sibling might be in denial on just how ill their parent is, another sibling might be outspoken on issues that should be inclusive for all siblings and will simply choose to take over.

But a lot of what we feel in those times, comes from years of hostility brought about through our parents parenting. It’s never on a conscious level of course, but where parents fail to unite their children, it is sadly obvious.

Family dynamics are very much the reason why, but that said… perhaps children need to see beyond what their parents have done and stand united and make the issue about the parents instead.


25 May, 2018

2 thoughts on “Siblings coming together

  1. Sadly, I have been through this with both my parents and my siblings and we didn’t come together to deal with the issues, like a normal family would do.

    Me and my siblings were pretty much estranged from my parents, by the time they both ended up with Dementia. Thankfully one of my sisters helped with my mother but with our dad, I was pretty much on my own dealing with him, since my other siblings weren’t extremely concerned.

    The only reason that I became so directly involved, was because I happened to live the closest, so I basically drew the short straw and got the job!

    Now that they are both gone, we have all gone our separate ways and I don’t see that ever really changing, but that seems to be how things have worked out.

    I don’t hold out a lot of hope for us getting together again, but it would be nice considering what we survived through together.

    1. I’m hearing you Randy. Yes, quite. I’m with you on this one.

      It’s a sad indictment of what parents do that when they’re no longer around, all the siblings go their separate ways. And although parents are the glue, the irony is they’re not the glue at all. They’re the glue whilst they’re here.

      There has always been an expectation around parents and children that whatever happens to the parent, the siblings will come together and look after them. That we’re still expected to conform and do ‘what’s considered right’ regardless of how our parents parent.

      We have to remember that even where other siblings aren’t concerned to help, they’re responsible for their decision. What your siblings have done, absolutely hasn’t gone unnoticed.

      You shouldn’t feel too bad Randy.

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