DEAR JOHN: Sister’s a no-show for sick mum
Recently our mother has been in and out of hospital several times. There are three children here on the island, but only two of us have been sharing the burden of looking after and assisting our mother as she battles with her recurring illness.
Since our father died she has been a hard-working, loving and caring mother. She is always ready to assist us with babysitting our children. If anyone of us takes sick she would bend over backwards to be doctor, nurse, housekeeper and principal caregiver.
John, what hurts us so badly is the fact that one of our siblings has not visited her anytime she was in hospital, In fact she has only been to look for her about four times in the last two years. Mum is extremely hurt and I believe that this behaviour is making her condition worse.
John, this has placed tension on our family relationship and is causing worry and concern. Recently, another sibling came home to see mum. For the time he was here he spent almost every night with his mother and was not prepared to go out with any of his friends.
Is there anything we can do to get our sibling to understand that such behaviour is causing her mother pain and damaging the family relationship? I am anxious about preserving family.
Dear Youngest Sister,
Yes. There are things you all can do. Remember the family unit is the bedrock of the society. Every possible effort must be made to preserve the primary family relationship. In this case you may wish to:
(1) Advise your two brothers who live overseas of their sister’s behaviour. Request that they contact her and her husband, preferably by telephone, to let her know that she must put visiting her mother as a priority.
(2) Organise a family meeting, if possible at your oldest sister’s house. Visiting mum should be the main agenda item. Point out to her how mum feels about the neglect. Try to find out why she is neglecting visiting her mum and offer to assist her in bringing about a change.
(3) Try to arrange a family weekend picnic or lunch or some special family event at least once every other month. This will bring family members together and will provide an excellent forum for your mother to interact with all of you at the same time.
(4) If mum’s illness sends her back to the hospital again ask your oldest sister to accompany you on a visit or visits to see mum. Take this as your responsibility even though you are the youngest of the children. Remember you have taken the initiative to write to me seeking guidance and advice. Good luck as you work with your sister.