December 29, 2010
You and your brother have just discovered a pile of overdue bills, spoiled food in the refrigerator and magazines stacked ceiling high at your parents' house. Your brother loses his cool and practically demands that they move to a nursing home. Your parents are visibly upset. You want the continued help and support of your brother. What do you do?
Approach your parents and brother with a sense of working together to find a solution rather than telling them what to do. Is the problem that your parents don't have the money? Or are they just unable to manage the bill-paying anymore? Speak to your parents about the issues that are relevant to avoid family conflict.
After assessing the situation, talk with your brother and suggest what seems like a reasonable course of action to you. Be sure to ask his opinion as well. One solution is to set your parents up on automatic bill-paying through their bank or take over payment of their bills. If you and your brother disagree, try to find a compromise. Offer the help you deem appropriate to your parents. A united front is the ideal course of action, unless you and your brother feel it would be best if you spoke to Mom and Dad on your own. Both you and your parents will benefit by keeping your brother engaged in the process in a positive way.
Do what you can to maintain a relationship with your brother. Siblings are sometimes the only family relationships that endure. Friendships from our early lives often don't last. So there is a depth of empathy we can tap into that goes back to that relationship. That sibling relationship will continue after your parents are gone. Research suggests that siblings don't want to harm their relationships with each other.
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