Are you dreading the Memorial Day family barbeque? . Will your estranged brother be manning the barbeque while you drink too much beer?
Are you a midlife sibling at war with sister or brother? Worse than that, do you feel like you and all your siblings are in not only a dysfunctional family but also an aging dysfunctional family?
What’s an aging dysfunctional family? Well they are very much like a war zone. Clans remain at war with each other, like the 1980’s Serbian conflict or the Iraq war pitting the Sunni’s against the Shia.These tribal battles have gone on for centuries and have the same bloody roots of the dysfunctional family -repeated from one generation to the next.
The hallmarks of the dysfunctional aging family, are after decades as a motley clan there is still not enough love in the family. The now midlife children have to fight for what little nurturance their older parents can bring to the ancient rickety nest they built.
Nurturing is often missing in the dysfunctional aging family because the aging parents themselves probably got little nurturing themselves as kids and on and on back down the family line. Parental neglect and abuse are frequent in the history of the aging dysfunctional family.
The now older parents can suffer from serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia or are bi-polar. Health and addiction problems like alcoholism are frequent. Family interaction and communication, -parental treatment of siblings, brother and sister treatment of each other stepparent interaction and interface of everyone in the family has wrought deep tissue damage that never healed.
These aging dysfunctional families generally negotiated all of life’s developmental phases with great difficulty. The role in the family, especially the parental one, was murky with a poor, abusive or mentally unfit leader of the family. The rules in the family were unfair ambiguous or full of double binds. There is deep-seated ambivalence. Finally the last life transition in the aging family, the care of the declining parent, implodes the family, which had little balance to begin with. They are asked to care for parents who did not care for them, thus reeking havoc on an already disorganized aging family.
So good luck at the Memorial Day family gathering and perhaps consider hiring a geriatric care manager if you sibling war is affecting not only rituals like family gatherings but also the care of your aging parents. The GCM can help you end the constant hangovers and /or acid reflux.
Why do some families need mediation at the end of life? Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties, with the help of an impartial third party mediator, work together to resolve their differences or solve a problem they were unable to address satisfactorily without help. These family differences especially happen to dysfunctional families but can beset any family at the end of life. They are faced with overwhelming emotions and decisions that demand that the family work together as a team. What happens to dysfunctional and even nearly normal families during this trying time? They don’t gather as a team. They fight. They fret and they feud. What are the results of this fighting, fretting and feuding in families at the end of life?
Unresolved family conflicts emerge
Dysfunctional families become more dysfunctional
Family members’ grief, pain and anxiety are often masked as anger and presents as conflict (past and present)
Older person dies without resolving important family issues
Older person dies in conflict, not in peace
I will speaking this Friday April 19, 2013, at National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers on “The GCM as the Accidental Mediator: Fretting and Fighting or Feuding: Intergenerational Conflict in the Adult Family at End of Life”, in Philadelphia, Penna.
If you are attending the conference, I will look forward to meeting you.
May is National Geriatric Care Manager’s Month I will be speaking at the 29th annual Conference of the National Association of Professional Care Manager’s in Philadelphia on Friday April 19th. I will cover the thorny topic, The GCM as the Accidental Mediator: Fretting and Fighting or Feuding: Intergenerational Conflict in the Adult Family at End of Life. If you are interested in attending and learning more you can still register and attend the conference. . If you are considering this growing profession, I wrote the textbook Handbook of Geriatric Care Management,that is now out in it’s 3rd edition. If you think of opening a GCM agency, I just published the first manual on how to operate a geriatric care management agency My Geriatric Care Management Operations Manual.