The Odd Sister Out
"I am the 'odd sister out' in my family. I am the youngest of three daughters, and my older sisters 'rule the roost.' They decide what needs to be done for my parents and do it. They seem to have a close connection now, and I am not included in their conversations.
Admittedly, they do the bulk of the caregiving for my parents, but I still feel that I should be included in making decisions. I help out when I can, just not as much as they do. We all work outside the home, but they both live a bit closer. I'm busy, and I feel like they resent me for it. I also have a second home which takes me out of town frequently.
How can I get more involved in decision-making?"
This is an unbelievably common situation in families with multiple siblings, and you are right in the middle of it. Just know that you are blessed with lots of hands (and opinions).
The real question here is why are you living on the outside when you should be rallying with your sisters to care for your parents? Goodness knows that many hands make light work.
I am going to make a few assumptions here based on what you shared with me. Saying they live a “bit” closer sounds to me as if you are rationalizing doing less or sitting on the bench. “A bit” does not sound like much difference in distance. Someone is always going to live closest, but this is relative. If you live in the same metropolitan area, you are close enough to share an equal load. A second home is also no excuse. Indeed, having the opportunity to get away at any time is wonderful! Consider yourself more rested and ready to help.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to a solution.
Schedule a lunch or dinner with your sisters, and make it your treat. Once the food has arrived and maybe a glass of wine, let your sisters know that you feel you are not carrying a fair share of the workload. Tell your sisters you intend to rectify that. Ask them to outline the caregiving tasks they perform each day or week for your parents. Then insist on the three of you dividing them equally. Stand your ground, and don't let your pride get in the way. By being honest, sincere and direct you are stopping anyone from playing the "martyr" of the family.
If you have been the unreliable or free-spirited one who cannot be counted on, it is clearly time to step it up. If you do not, you will forever stay the odd woman out. The solution is simple. Get involved, and be consistent. Just think, you have a wonderful opportunity ahead of you to forge a stronger relationship with your sisters. That is always worth the effort.
I wish you the best.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
Written by CEO, Mary Haynor, this newsletter is packed with useful tips, resources and practices that will make the lives of family caregivers easier.Learn More...
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