Happy Labor Day.
If you are working with midlife siblings to solve elder care issues and they are attending a Labor Day barbecue-
Suggestions to make the ritual of Labor Day – a holiday to be enjoyed by midlife siblings and their families – not dreaded like the annual Thanksgiving dinner where Mom burns the turkey and your uncle gets drunk and sings.
Here are 7 tips to help them keep the Labor Day heartburn free without a midlife sibling to build a midlife sibling team over aging Mom and Dad issues.
1) Don’t discuss politics. In this era of the Trump presidency with so many families at odds over President Trump, Charlotteville, the Russian hacking investigation, DOMA, the building of the ” Mexican Wall ” –politics can be lethal to families. Spare siblings, and guests. This is bloodier than the civil war with so many kin at opposite poles. So keep it positive and light or just plain pass the time of day. And whatever you do, don’t drink too much and forget the ban on politics.
2) Remember that it is a family gathering and it is not “all about you”.Suggest keeping a positive attitude for the sake of aging parents, if they are there, and kids, who will model bad sibling behavior when they face parent- care in the future
3) Call email or Facebook, Evite everyone ahead of time. Ask everyone to bring a dish to share. That is the beginning of building a sibling family team- sharing food. Call every midlife sibling and family member. Do not exclude. Again to build a team effort.
4) Attempt to get all midlife siblings to plan activities ahead and jointly work to make them happen-with a sibling team spirit. Think of softball games, horseshoes, and a treasure hunt, anything that everyone can have joint ideas about beforehand. Use Facebook to do this- hopefully, all your siblings are your Facebook friends.
5) Arrange to split the bill for beverages like alcohol and soft drinks, again sibling team effort. Remember to go light on alcohol because, like the recent Houston explosion caused by hurricane flooding, alcohol can detonate sibling warfare.
6) Share jobs- setting up tables, bringing in equipment for sports or games, lawn chairs- especially ‘manning” the barbecue. (Sisters can cook too) Share it and don’t let anyone be top dog –be the chosen chef, unless everyone is fine with that.This is again modeling a sibling team about helping an aging Mom and Dad.
6) It is a party, not a sibling family meeting. If you want to talk about personal issues, make a date in the future to get together with your angry sister/brother.
7) Don’t make this a family meeting where old sibling grudges get hashed out.It is a holiday.
Check out the chapter ” Working With Adult Aging Siblings” by Cathy Cress and Kali C Peterson in Care Manager’s Working With the Aging Family – for a deeper dive into how to work with midlife siblings around aging parent care.
Also, you could apply this to any labor day gathering with siblings and just leave out the aging parent issue.
HAVE HAPPY LABOR DAY