Being The Oldest Doesn't Mean Bearing Sole Responsibility

by Lorraine
(Northern New Jersey)

I am the older of two siblings, by about a year. I am an overachiever while my sister is an underachiever. We both live in the same state as my parents, but I am close by.

I am widowed with a small child. My sister is married with two children who are not small. I am one person earning two salaries, in a job that a substitute cannot do. My sister is in a two salary household with a job that a substitute can do. Her husband is obsessed with sports and their kids are over-involved and on too many teams.

Sports takes precedence over family in that household. My parents know this. My mother is in failing health and my sister has no problem whatsoever, having everything fall to me. She has done very little, but to hear her talk about "her stress" and how "she can't be coming up every weekend," she keeps trying to justify how "much" she is doing, which is bare minimum.

The care of elderly parents is the responsibility of all children, not just one. It doesn't matter whether one is more competent or capable than another or others and doesn't give the other(s) the right to abdicate responsibility and let it all fall to one person. Not only is it unfair to the person bearing the brunt of the responsibility, it's a grueling pace that takes its toll. If others have the ability to do more but make excuses as to why they can't, there is no excuse for that.

Those who aren't doing enough when it comes to the care of aged parents know who they are. Rather than justifying with the "me's" and "my's" and "I's", they need to take a cold hard look at themselves and the burden they're placing on their sibling.

Not only does the sibling who is doing the most know it, more importantly, GOD knows it. Those who choose not to do more when they have the opportunity, may very well be held to account for their omission to act.

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You are Correct
by: Anonymous

Don't let anyone tell you it is your fault. Obviously they have never been in the same situation. I have been in your situation and believe me there is nothing you can do that will get them to help you. They don't want to do it - Period!.

I have been told by others so many times I can't count that they will answer to God one day. I now consider it their problem - NOT mine. You keep up what you are doing and forget about the rest of your family helping. It will take a lot of stress away just by not having to deal with them.

Get your parents Power Of Attorney if you don't have it now and start making the decisions the way you want things to go. And Good Luck. I know exactly what you are going through. And statistics will tell you that the norm in any family is that one child steps up to the plate and the others do nothing - no matter if there are two children or 10 children.

Just in Passing
by: Georgiana

She's the underachiever, you say, and you're the overachiever. Perhaps your attitude's been so clear for so long that your sister feels no desire to help you? I doubt I'd care too much about someone who'd always made it clear they thought I was second-rate.

JIP, when you console yourself that God will condemn her for not helping you, you might want to remember the old Biblical adage about reaping what you've sown. Because from here it sounds as if you've sowed condescension and are now complaining because you're reaping indifference.

People we love, or even just care about, we want to help. Since your sister doesn't want to help you, perhaps it's time to stop assuring yourself that you're her superior in the eyes of God and start considering the possibility that you may have contributed to this situation. You might even be led to the realization that you never were quite that perfect and your sister was never all that much of a failure.

Of course, it isn't as comfortable as assuring yourself of your superiority to her here and hereafter, but I suspect it may lead to a much-improved relationship with your sister, and that might lead to your getting the help that you need.

by: Anonymous

I agree with your comments 100%. I am in the same situation but with 3 siblings that do nothing to help and some have gone so far to say they don't want to do it.

I respect their wishes but I chose to help my Dad and it has cost me the ultimate price. After spending 7-8 years now running back and forth across town to help my Dad and pushing my time with my husband to the back burner it is now too late. I came home last Feb. and found my husband passed away. Regrets? You better believe it. But I know I would never ever turn my back on my Father.

Maybe he wasn't perfect but who really is? I learned a valuable lesson that when you forgive people for who they are or what they've done then you set yourself free to move on. I did that with my Dad (and Mom when she was living). I accepted both my parents as being the best parents they knew how to be. I have been on this site for a few years now and I see that common thread in just about every situation - only one person takes the responsibility for a parent - everyone else back strokes out of the situation.

And yes, I believe you can't put caring into someone's heart and yes, they will be asking forgiveness at the gates to heaven one day. As for me, I think my Dad may not have much time left now. I see him going back so much that now I am faced with getting him into a home (which I know he did not want) but he can't live alone anymore.

I stress about him when I am not over there and when I am there I am still in the grieving process for my husband and I want to be home. But as stressed as I am, I am also feeling so sad about the end of his life coming and then I will have nothing.

Best Wishes
by: Anonymous

Please forgive me if I'm completely off track here, but you described yourself as an over-achiever and your sister as an under-achiever. I'm just wondering if your sister thinks that you are coping with this because you are defined as the strong, clever one?

Does she feel like you have everything under control and don't really need her? Can you tell her that you are struggling and that this level of support is beyond even you?

I wonder if you've been able to tell her that you really need her help? She just might step up? If she's made to feel like an under-achiever, then she'll act like one and won't consider that you are unable to cope......

by: Anonymous

I told my oldest brother (one of 4 who doesn't help) pretty much the same thing--somehow he still managed to come out as the victim!

I have been forced to realize that you just cannot put caring in a person's heart if it is not already there. Of course, one would think that all children should automatically care about and want to do for their parents; unfortunately, this is not the case.

Hang in there and take comfort in knowing that you are doing the right thing, and yes, our siblings will have to answer for their inaction one day. God Bless.

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