This is the reverse of the Bank of Mum and Dad – the point at which you may be taking over the support and care of your parents.
One of the questions we get asked most is how to avoid family conflict. So, we’ve asked people about their experiences and needless to say, there is no one simple solution. But, we’ve tried to identify the main reasons for conflict and offer the top tips we’ve heard about.
Family tension and disagreements typically arise for four main reasons: roles and rivalries dating back to childhood – many of us feel like children again as soon as we’re back with the family – and all those old tensions come back to the fore; secondly, there may be very different views amongst siblings about parents’ condition and capabilities which are hard to resolve, for example, if you think you’re mum is a danger on the roads but your brother thinks she needs to maintain her independence; thirdly, financial matters play an enormous part in disagreements, particularly when the source of funding for care is at stake; and finally, the burden of care between siblings can have a huge impact as quite often one adult child takes on most of the caring tasks for often very practical reasons such as being close by.
Here are our top tips to try and avoid family fall outs:
- Hold regular family meetings
- Divide the labour
- Talk about it
- Offer help if you live far away
- Be part of the solution
The company of Mum and Dad
One great suggestion we have heard more than once is organising the family into an informal Company of Mum and Dad; everyone takes on a particular responsibility – care, finance, house, health etc – and the family works as a management group for Mum and Dad – discussing issues, solving problems and making decisions. As for any company, there needs to be a clear objective, but also as in any organisation, there will always be different agendas. So – think like a management group to resolve issues; bring in others to help with the decision making if necessary. Easier said than done in some cases for sure. But with technology, you don’t all need to be around the same table to have a conversation. You could take this to the nth degree, by holding regular meetings, covering key subjects each time. This could help take some of the emotion out of the situation.
Division of Labour
The best advice is to consider a division of labour that takes into account each family member’s interests and skills as well as their availability. So if you can’t be there during the day to go to Doctor’s appointments etc, perhaps you can take responsibility for the finances? A far-flung sibling may be able to visit every few months to give someone else a break.
Not always easy among families, but the family company set up may help people to speak up about their concerns in a non-confrontational manner. Try and be part of the solution, not part of the problem if things get tricky.
What has worked well in your family? Join our forum today and let us know.