Wedding Woes

Don't want to be my siblings keeper.

Dear Prudence, 
My husband and I are in our late 30s and live across the country from my family. I moved away for many reasons, chief among them that I was tired of being a caretaker for my young siblings, who both have developmental disabilities. My young sister is largely self-sufficient, but my brother requires a substantial amount of care. My parents have always seemed to assume that I would take on responsibility for my siblings once they were no long able to do so. I have never agreed to this and have told them on many occasions that I don’t think it’s a good idea.

My father is retiring later this year, and now he and my mother are talking about moving to my city so my brother and sister will have time to “settle in.” I have told them I am not comfortable with this plan and that it doesn’t make sense to move them to my city because I will not be a caretaker. They don’t seem to listen or care! My mother says that when the time comes she knows I’ll “do the right thing” and “step up to the plate.” I feel like my whole childhood of having my needs forgotten because of my siblings is coming back to haunt me! I was so burned out on taking care of my siblings growing up that I moved across the country and decided never to have children of my own. Short of moving to a new city and not telling my family where it is, how can I stop this from happening?
—No Caretaker

Re: Don't want to be my siblings keeper.

  • There's one thing to want to help siblings, and being forced. I don't think the parents should be expecting LW and spouse to do it.
    If they {parents} are unable to care for the children, maybe look into a facilities that could help out with things they're unable {unwilling?} to do
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  • I'm really sympathetic on both sides here.   If the LW is the closest family that these siblings have I can understand that the parents are hoping that she will look out for them when they're gone.  

    However,  I think that comes with limits.   It doesn't mean  that SHE is the caretaker.   It means that she can be a guardian or in trust so these siblings are cared for as they age and not taken advantage of either.

    Again, I wonder if the OP could benefit from therapy.   What needs weren't met as a result of the siblings with disabilities?   Was she outright ignored or did their needs and care come ahead of things that were really wants and not needs?  

    The OP can't stop her parents from relocating and she can't stop them from moving her siblings.   I really hope that she looks a little deeper here because some of this is sounding like she's not just trying to avoid her siblings but she's actively tried to create a new life that doesn't include them.   So far I'm not thinking of this person all that favorably.
    eileenrobOliveOilsMom
  • Start documenting stuff. Like in writing and now. Your parents have for sure put you down as caretaker in their will and in any other documents pertaining to the brother's/sister's care. It may sound a little overblown, but I would probably send a certified letter expressing the need for them to make other arrangements and reference dates of verbal conversations where you've said this as well.

    Parents sound totally delusional and disrespectful. I'd also be sure to say to them that if they don't make other arrangements, it's unfortunate, but the brother and sister will end up in adult foster care....not because you're not doing the right thing but because THEY'RE not doing the right thing.
    I love this.  I would also tell them, if they move to where I currently live, I will just move again to get away from them.  Harsh!  But even saying "no" bluntly hasn't worked.

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    mrsconn23
  • I think LW needs to enlist the help of a social worker or family therapist and have a direct, in-person, conversation with their parents about the future. LW's parents are not hearing LW out, and it's unfair to the siblings. 

    I don't know the answer to this, but what happens if LW's parents made them the caretaker against LW's wishes? What would their legal responsibilities be?
    southernbelle0915eileenrob
  • I think LW needs to enlist the help of a social worker or family therapist and have a direct, in-person, conversation with their parents about the future. LW's parents are not hearing LW out, and it's unfair to the siblings. 

    I don't know the answer to this, but what happens if LW's parents made them the caretaker against LW's wishes? What would their legal responsibilities be?
    It's a good question.

    I just wonder if there's a compromise here.  

    The LW doesn't have to be in charge of them but does she want to see to it that they're taken care of to any degree?  

    I get it.   S/he doesn't have to do this.  I just wonder what kind of a relationship she's had with her parents and siblings her entire life that she's washing her hands of it.    If that's honestly the case then I think she needs to be far more blunt.
    charlotte989875OliveOilsMom
  • banana468 said:
    I get it.   S/he doesn't have to do this.  I just wonder what kind of a relationship she's had with her parents and siblings her entire life that she's washing her hands of it.    If that's honestly the case then I think she needs to be far more blunt.
     I feel like my whole childhood of having my needs forgotten because of my siblings is coming back to haunt me! I was so burned out on taking care of my siblings growing up that I moved across the country and decided never to have children of my own. 

    Sounds like the LW's perspective is that they've always been essentially 'dumped on' by their parents and the expectation to care for their siblings has always been there.  They've based their life decision to never have kids off this treatment. 

    I think LW needs to tell their mother by all official means that they're not going to be left as the responsible party for their siblings, and if mother ignores them...they need to lawyer up.  Because even if they move, they could still be tracked down and dragged into it. 
    charlotte989875
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
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    banana468 said:
    I'm really sympathetic on both sides here.   If the LW is the closest family that these siblings have I can understand that the parents are hoping that she will look out for them when they're gone.  

    However,  I think that comes with limits.   It doesn't mean  that SHE is the caretaker.   It means that she can be a guardian or in trust so these siblings are cared for as they age and not taken advantage of either.

    Again, I wonder if the OP could benefit from therapy.   What needs weren't met as a result of the siblings with disabilities?   Was she outright ignored or did their needs and care come ahead of things that were really wants and not needs?  

    The OP can't stop her parents from relocating and she can't stop them from moving her siblings.   I really hope that she looks a little deeper here because some of this is sounding like she's not just trying to avoid her siblings but she's actively tried to create a new life that doesn't include them.   So far I'm not thinking of this person all that favorably.
    I agree and disagree. If my brother survives for long, he’ll end up in an adult care center, probably with a stroke and liver failure. It’s a story I see all day long at work. I would be upset if I was expected to take him home and be his caretaker. Nope. Not happening. I also know this has been a significant source of stress for both my grandparents and my parents, both of whom do not want to place me in unwanted situations that could arise from making me in charge of finances. If my brother becomes ill or injured while they are still alive (totally a possibility) then the issue of his physical care will be in their hands and then in mine. And we all know what adult care centers are like. They’re generally awful. I wouldn’t wish a life in a SNF on anyone. 


    image
    charlotte989875eileenrob
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    I get it.   S/he doesn't have to do this.  I just wonder what kind of a relationship she's had with her parents and siblings her entire life that she's washing her hands of it.    If that's honestly the case then I think she needs to be far more blunt.
     I feel like my whole childhood of having my needs forgotten because of my siblings is coming back to haunt me! I was so burned out on taking care of my siblings growing up that I moved across the country and decided never to have children of my own. 

    Sounds like the LW's perspective is that they've always been essentially 'dumped on' by their parents and the expectation to care for their siblings has always been there.  They've based their life decision to never have kids off this treatment. 

    I think LW needs to tell their mother by all official means that they're not going to be left as the responsible party for their siblings, and if mother ignores them...they need to lawyer up.  Because even if they move, they could still be tracked down and dragged into it. 
    I get that.  Part me wonders what the other side of the story is.  I've seen people who up and leave due a perceived issue but there's more to the story that they weren't privy to at the time and they just never resolved the butthurt. 


  • banana468 said:
    mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    I get it.   S/he doesn't have to do this.  I just wonder what kind of a relationship she's had with her parents and siblings her entire life that she's washing her hands of it.    If that's honestly the case then I think she needs to be far more blunt.
     I feel like my whole childhood of having my needs forgotten because of my siblings is coming back to haunt me! I was so burned out on taking care of my siblings growing up that I moved across the country and decided never to have children of my own. 

    Sounds like the LW's perspective is that they've always been essentially 'dumped on' by their parents and the expectation to care for their siblings has always been there.  They've based their life decision to never have kids off this treatment. 

    I think LW needs to tell their mother by all official means that they're not going to be left as the responsible party for their siblings, and if mother ignores them...they need to lawyer up.  Because even if they move, they could still be tracked down and dragged into it. 
    I get that.  Part me wonders what the other side of the story is.  I've seen people who up and leave due a perceived issue but there's more to the story that they weren't privy to at the time and they just never resolved the butthurt. 


    Yes, but I don't think it matters at this point.  LW and their mother do not see eye to eye on this.  LW has their own perception of the situation and it's not being helped by their mother's insistence on LW being the default long-term care option for LW's siblings, over LW's objections.  
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    I get it.   S/he doesn't have to do this.  I just wonder what kind of a relationship she's had with her parents and siblings her entire life that she's washing her hands of it.    If that's honestly the case then I think she needs to be far more blunt.
     I feel like my whole childhood of having my needs forgotten because of my siblings is coming back to haunt me! I was so burned out on taking care of my siblings growing up that I moved across the country and decided never to have children of my own. 

    Sounds like the LW's perspective is that they've always been essentially 'dumped on' by their parents and the expectation to care for their siblings has always been there.  They've based their life decision to never have kids off this treatment. 

    I think LW needs to tell their mother by all official means that they're not going to be left as the responsible party for their siblings, and if mother ignores them...they need to lawyer up.  Because even if they move, they could still be tracked down and dragged into it. 
    I get that.  Part me wonders what the other side of the story is.  I've seen people who up and leave due a perceived issue but there's more to the story that they weren't privy to at the time and they just never resolved the butthurt. 


    Yes, but I don't think it matters at this point.  LW and their mother do not see eye to eye on this.  LW has their own perception of the situation and it's not being helped by their mother's insistence on LW being the default long-term care option for LW's siblings, over LW's objections.  
    Yeah - that's an excellent point.  I don't have that perspective.

    Then I hope LW consults an attorney to ensure that s/he is not accepting that.
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    I get it.   S/he doesn't have to do this.  I just wonder what kind of a relationship she's had with her parents and siblings her entire life that she's washing her hands of it.    If that's honestly the case then I think she needs to be far more blunt.
     I feel like my whole childhood of having my needs forgotten because of my siblings is coming back to haunt me! I was so burned out on taking care of my siblings growing up that I moved across the country and decided never to have children of my own. 

    Sounds like the LW's perspective is that they've always been essentially 'dumped on' by their parents and the expectation to care for their siblings has always been there.  They've based their life decision to never have kids off this treatment. 

    I think LW needs to tell their mother by all official means that they're not going to be left as the responsible party for their siblings, and if mother ignores them...they need to lawyer up.  Because even if they move, they could still be tracked down and dragged into it. 
    I agree, but I wonder if bringing in an expert to these conversations, before getting the lawyers involved, could help? If LW brings in a therapist/social worker, or even end of life specialist to help the parents see what they're volunt-telling LW to do, and why LW doesn't want to do it? 

    I think LW should also seek legal advice if this is something she doesn't want, but I do think that might just drive them all farther apart. 
    short+sassymrsconn23
  • I hope the parents are working on a good financial plan/trust/long-term care insurance/whatever for the younger siblings for when they are gone. 

    I do think LW needs to work with a family counselor/social worker/whatever for communication with the parents' to make it more effective - though no guarantee the parents will listen.  I mean I see the parents' side here thinking/hoping the older sibling will step in when they are no longer there or able to provide the care and I'm sure it breaks their heart thinking the older sibling doesn't want to do it. But that doesn't make it ok to not respect her wishes and what she has told them.
    charlotte989875banana468mrsconn23OliveOilsMom
  • kvruns said:
    I hope the parents are working on a good financial plan/trust/long-term care insurance/whatever for the younger siblings for when they are gone. 

    I do think LW needs to work with a family counselor/social worker/whatever for communication with the parents' to make it more effective - though no guarantee the parents will listen.  I mean I see the parents' side here thinking/hoping the older sibling will step in when they are no longer there or able to provide the care and I'm sure it breaks their heart thinking the older sibling doesn't want to do it. But that doesn't make it ok to not respect her wishes and what she has told them.
    Totally agree.

    I am on a chat board with a mom who's first has Down Syndrome and she's hopeful that her younger one will want to be involved in the older one as they age.   It's tough because there's going to come a time that the care of her child is out of her control.
  • There aren't any easy answers.  But I would hope that, for parents who have a child with significant disabilities, they have a hefty life insurance policy that would be large enough to provide their child with the lifetime care needed. 
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    charlotte989875southernbelle0915
  • I don't know how it is in the States, but in Ontario, there is a 15-20 year wait list for adults with Developmental Delays to get into group homes. They cannot get onto that list until they turn 21 and most programming is unavailable or not sufficiently funded after 21. Parents have to fight for every dollar of funding for their kids. Most group homes are understaffed and underfunded. It's a major area that needs overhaul. 

    The parents need to reach out and figure out care now before it gets too late. Trust me, siblings don't want to take care of their siblings, especially if they have families of their own, work and other things on the go. 
    short+sassyMissKittyDangercharlotte989875
  • I don't know how it is in the States, but in Ontario, there is a 15-20 year wait list for adults with Developmental Delays to get into group homes. They cannot get onto that list until they turn 21 and most programming is unavailable or not sufficiently funded after 21. Parents have to fight for every dollar of funding for their kids. Most group homes are understaffed and underfunded. It's a major area that needs overhaul. 

    The parents need to reach out and figure out care now before it gets too late. Trust me, siblings don't want to take care of their siblings, especially if they have families of their own, work and other things on the go. 

    Exactly.  Even if the LW was willing and wanted to help, she may not have the ability to.  I get the impression that the brother probably needs or will need constant in-home care.  Most people don't have the luxury of just quitting their job and putting their whole life on hold to do that.

    I notice the letter only speaks of the father about to retire.  I'll suspect the mother doesn't work because she devotes a lot of time to taking care of those two siblings.

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    eileenrobcharlotte989875
  • It’s a sad scenario all around.  The parents have devoted decades to caring for the siblings, and they want to ensure that they always will be in caring hands.  They should do themselves and all three of their children a favor and try to line up better adult care for them now.  It’s wrong to expect LW to do it.
    short+sassycharlotte989875
  • I completely understand the parents expecting LW to be a part of her siblings' lives, especially after the parents pass. However, that does not mean that LW needs to be the one taking care of them nor should she be financially responsible. Hopefully the parents have made sure there is plenty of money left when they die to pay for the care of the siblings, by professionals. LW, hopefully, could be involved enough to make sure they aren't taken advantage of and could visit randomly to ensure they are being well taken care of etc, but absolutely should not be responsible for caring for them. I think it is also important, though difficult, to remember that none of this is the fault of the siblings and that all resentment should be directed at the parents. The siblings didn't ask for any of this any more than LW did. The parents decided to have more children, and to have a 3rd when they already had 1 child with severe disabilities - they need to take full responsibility, including financial, for those decissions. I hope that LW can work with a therapist and family councelor to insure that the siblings are well taken care of without burdening her, and allow LW to have a SIBLING type relationship with her brother and sister going forward. 
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