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Why Does My Brother Have All the Influence?



"I’m my 90-year-old father’s caregiver. I do laundry, clean the house, change the sheets, buy groceries, cart him around everywhere, and basically do everything for him. My brother, on the other hand, swoops in and provides opinions on just about all of it. Dad listens to him and not me. Whatever I say is dismissed.

Let’s face it—I’m the servant, and my brother is the decision maker. I do all of the work and my brother gets to do almost nothing. I resent this position I’m in, and want out. How do I manage this?" - READER



Wow! I feel your anger, and some of it is well placed. You are indeed being treated like someone who is paid to be a caregiver, rather than a daughter.

First, you need to process the situation as a whole, and look at its evolution. Caregiving usually starts by doing a few things for someone, then a few more, and eventually you’re helping with most household tasks.

Your brother likely never involved himself in the day-to-day tasks of caring for your father like you did. He may stop in for a visit every once in a while to discuss current events or even financial matters, but you’ve already taken care of the physical work of caregiving.

Now that you want to extract yourself from the role you’ve taken on and be seen by your father as a strong and independent individual, you need to flex some of that muscle you have. It sounds like it is high time and you are ready:

  • You must drop the emotion. Being angry will only label you as irrational and unable to handle the decision-making during which you’d like more of a say.
  • Let your brother know that you need to assign him some of the work that you’ve been doing. Simply tell him he needs to share the load. No explanation necessary.
  • Once you hand off certain tasks, don’t take them back. And he’ll surely do them differently than you did, but don’t criticize him for this.
  • Gradually pick up topics that your brother and dad have discussed. If dismissed by Dad, try again or try another topic.

Remember that your family’s patterns are long established and not easily broken. Your resentment is understandable, though you have the power to change it, if you have the will. You can succeed in making change. How you manage it can give you strength and comfort in this journey of life. I wish you success.