There’s a reason rivalries resurface when siblings share in elder care. According to Francine Russo, author of They’re Your Parents, Too!, the trigger is an awareness that time is running out. It often hinges on the desire to resolve unconscious needs for parental attention. Perhaps it’s a need to feel as important as another sibling. Or to feel forgiven. Or to feel capable.
What to do
Check in with yourself - Are you overly engaged in caregiving out of the hope for approval? Or underinvolved because you were “the baby”? Recognize how your perspective may affect your role in your parent’s care and your response to your siblings.
Don’t blame your sibs - If you feel that Dad overlooks you, you may be right. Your parent may be unfair. This is not the fault of your siblings, however. Similarly, if you are the “favorite child,” try not to abuse that privilege. Instead, look for common ground with your siblings. Acknowledge your parent’s foibles.
Treat your siblings as adults - If you don’t operate according to old family patterns, your siblings are less likely to do so too. Meet them as they are today. At a minimum, agree to put aside sibling issues to focus on the care of your parent. Use the forum of a “family meeting” for discussion. Hire a facilitator if problems persist.
Get support - You may not ever receive the love you want from your parent. Your siblings may repeat old patterns. Accept these realities if they occur, and find connection in other places. Try a support group for family caregivers. Or consider individual counseling for help in letting go of old hopes.