You can choose your friends. You can’t choose your family. Just because you grow up with someone doesn’t mean that you will be the best of friends when you become adults. Often, siblings do not see eye to eye, in particular when it comes to the care of a sick or aging parent.
The stress of caring for a parent can bring out the worst in people. Navigating the health care system can be overwhelming. All too often families do not receive the support they need. They don’t know where to turn for help. Arguments arise within the family and communication breaks down. What begins as a stressful situation can quickly escalate into a crisis.
Who truly knows what is best for mom and dad? What if you can’t come to terms with what should be done?
Here are eight tips to help resolve an argument with a sibling.
Ask your parent what they want. Don’t forget that the person you may be fighting over should have a voice in their own care. If they are able to communicate their wishes, listen to what they say and make that a priority.
Call a family meeting. Problems and misunderstandings often occur because no one really takes the time to communicate and find out what the other person thinks. Have the meeting in a quiet place without distractions and at a time of day when everyone will be at their best.
Practice your communication skills. Ask open-ended questions. How are you feeling? What are you most afraid of? Listen to the answers with the intent to understand where your brother or sister is coming from. Try to see the situation from their point of view. They may have valid concerns that you hadn’t thought of.
Hold space for the other members of your family to deal with their emotions. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to how anyone feels.
Be able to forgive. If something is said or done in the heat of the moment, and the person apologizes, open your heart to forgive them and move on. Don’t hold a grudge.
Likewise, be prepared to apologize when you say or do something you shouldn’t have or that you later regret. An apology can go a long way in making a bad situation better. It’s important to sound sincere and genuine. Your sibling is much less likely to stay angry with you if they hear that you truly are sorry.
Be willing to let go of some things. Is your stubbornness only getting in the way of being able to resolve the argument? Where can you practice some give and take?
Get additional help. If arguments continue to escalate and do not get resolved, it may be time to call in an expert. There are Geriatric Care Managers, Elder Care Mediators, Social Workers, Counsellors, and Health Care Navigators who will be able to provide an unbiased opinion and recommendations for what would be best for your parent.
Remember that at the end of the day, arguing with a family member rarely solves anything. Try to reconcile what you really want for your parent with what you can live with. What are the things that you are willing to negotiate? Try to work together as a team to overcome the challenges. Keep your parent at the center of all decisions. It is sad when families bicker and can’t get along. The last thing your mom or dad probably wants is for their family to fall apart, all because of them.