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.