What if we neglect to tell a family member something that we feel is unimportant or even trivial, but they think IS important and not trivial? Is that lying? Or behaving falsely?
What if a family member, a care-giving sibling (CGS), uses her parents’ money to purchase a first-alert device or a home security system so she knows whether the parent has been in an accident or has a medical emergency? The other siblings live a several hundred miles away. Why bother? They’re not involved, right?
What if a care-giving sibling takes Dad to the doctor for a periodic check-up and doesn’t inform a sibling living in another state, or even another country? The CGS has been taking her parent to doctors for years, and there was never a problem before. The sibling living elsewhere didn’t seem to care. Now the faraway sibling learns from a neighbor that Dad had walking pneumonia. He’s better now. But why didn’t CGS tell him about it?
What if a parent changes his will and doesn’t inform all her children, but only the sibling with Power of Attorney, or the adult child who is Trustee of the parent’s estate? And the other siblings don’t learn about provisions in the will until after the parent dies?
Are these merely an oversight? Unacceptable behavior? Or an outright falsehood?
Too often what passes for routine for one family member may appear as out of the ordinary to another. Questions like: “How come I wasn’t told about this?” “Why didn’t you keep me in the loop?”or “How long has this been going on?” bubble up.
What we’ve learned is simple: Take nothing for granted. And view the situation from the other family member’s perspective. This is especially true for family members who live in another location and probably feel some guilt that they’re not helping care-give. Keeping other family members in the dark can trigger suspicion, anger, and a dash of sibling rivalry.
So, dear readers, may we suggest?
1. Stand in the shoes of the ‘other’ and try to feel what she is experiencing.
2. Have an all-inclusive family discussion and decide how often and how much information will be shared.
3. In adult family matters, TMI (Too Much Information) can be a good thing. failure.
Suzanne Ghais says
Wise advice. This is interesting not only to me as a conflict resolution professional but also as a daughter. As the only of 3 siblings living near our parents, I am likely to face these kinds of situations at some point.
Donna Ballard says
An all-inclusive family discussion on information sharing is a great idea. But sharing should not become an additional burden or the sole responsibility of the main caregiver. The others should try to understand what the MCG is experiencing as well. After a day of providing care, the MCG may very well be exhausted. The others could take turns calling to find out what is going on and then sharing with the rest of the family. Everybody should make an effort to communicate rather than complaining “I wasn’t told about this!”