Join the Conversation
1 July 2019
Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Sibling Responsibilities as We Age
‘My mother never left me money or property; instead, I inherited my brother’
A person’s connection to a sibling, like many familial relationships, is complicated. In almost every family, there are rivalries and conflicts. We may grow up in the same household, but the choices we make about getting an education, the person we marry, where we live, what we do for a living, or the hobbies we choose to follow all affect who we become. Sometimes the only thing siblings have in common is their DNA. So, what keeps us connected, and what motivates us to assume or fail to assume the responsibility for an older sibling?
There are probably as many reasons as there are siblings:
- Genuine love and respect
- Shared memories
- Sense of obligation to parents
- A sense of guilt for having an easier life, for being healthier, wealthier, or for having been your parent’s favorite
- Sadness for your sibling’s situation and fear that if you don’t take care of him, no one else will
The sibling may or may not deserve generosity. What is important to remember is that one has a choice to assume the caretaker role for a sibling. One can’t change how the relationship worked in the past; a potential caregiver can, however, control their part in it now. There will be countless things that cannot be controlled, such as the progression of a disease or the behavior of the brother/sister and other family members. If a person makes the choice to care for a sibling who may or may not have deserved or appreciated your time, attention, and care, then he or she will probably never regret being the one who found the strength, courage, and compassion, to do what needed to be done.
This is an invitation to all readers, professional and students, to submit an original research paper, essay, book/movie review on all aspects of the topic of aging siblings. Your work will be peer reviewed and if accepted, will be published in a special edition of Educational Gerontology. The deadline for submission is July 1, 2019. For questions related to your submission, please e-mail the editor, Nieli Langer.