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  • Julie Katz

Sibling Rivalry Part 2

Different ways siblings dodge responsibility and how to handle them.



Siblings who don't want to take responsibility for their parent can be categorized. Here are the categories and things you can do about it:


The busy bee/distant bee: This type of sibling says he or she has way too much on their plate, or live further away and claim they can't help at all. While some of this may be true, they do nothing at all. Worse yet, you may be just as busy or busier as they are but they take no responsibility.

Solution: Ask them to pay for services to help your parent. There are companies (like The Extra Daughter) that helps with transportation. Other companies do everything from cleaning to bill paying. Saying no may be a way of saying 'I'm not comfortable.' You may be asking them to do something they are not willing to do, but will be able to do something different. Maybe they don't want to bath their parent but they will have time for bill paying.


The director. This person tells you what to do but does nothing him or herself. Often this person may live far away and is probably a first born. Of course, they know the answer to everything and you are seldom right.

Solution: First, don't listen to them if you don't want. Thank them for their input and do what you want. They have no recourse. If they are so insistent, tell them to get off their behind and either do it themselves or hire someone to do it their way.


The ostrich. They claim mom is fine and you are exaggerating, she just needs any of the following: more sleep, more water, more fresh air, the latest vitamin or mineral. While dehydration can sometimes cause dementia like symptoms, it is probably not the cause of mom forgetting to pay any of her bills and getting utilities cut off.

Solution: Have a family meeting with your parent's health care provider. Let someone else tell your sibling that they are a kook and your parent needs mainstream medical intervention. Make sure they see in person what is going on, not just their impressions over the phone.


The baby. Your parent may be the one making excuses for your sibling who doesn't do anything. Often, but not always, it is the baby of the family or a sibling that has gone through an illness or divorce. Your parent doesn't want to 'bother' Johnny because he is so busy or has been through so much.

Solution: Contact Johnny directly and ask for help. He may not be aware his mother or father is shielding him. If Johnny is in agreement with their thinking, see the busy bee for a solution.


The lazy/apathetic or selfish one. You are doing such a great job handling everything, why should they do anything? I actually heard one woman chastise her elderly mother because she asked the granddaughter to help her. The daughter started to list the things the granddaughter needed to do like manicures, golf and a therapist. Busy indeed.

Solution: Be very specific in your requests to your sibling. Ask them to accompany your parent to a specific appointment not just for general help. If they cannot do that, they can pay for someone to do it.


The enabler. This might be you. Are you trying to be a superhero and do it all? Are you genuinely asking for specific help or just complaining to your siblings? When was the last time you asked someone else to do a certain task for your parent?

Solution: Ask for specific tasks to be done. Even if things are not up to your standards, as long as they are done in a timely manner that is all that is important. Don't stop asking if you get one 'no' answer. If you keep getting no's, ask them to pay.


Don't be shy to ask cousins, friends or neighbors to help out sometimes. If your parent has always had a good relationship with that person, they may be honored to help.


Julie Katz is the owner of The Extra Daughter

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