Sasha Answers: The giver, never the taker
Dear Sasha, I have two brothers, one older and one younger than myself. Our Dad is seventy seven years old and in great health. He is self-sufficient and has no mobility problems. He takes his health seriously and I’m very grateful for that. He is a widower and is socially active with friends daily. He does all his own cooking and repairs to his home and he has a wonderful way at looking at the world. He holds no regrets or grudges. Quite simply he is a lovely man. I simply adore him to bits.
To date I am the sole care giver to my father. My brothers do not call him on a regular basis and they are they not familiar with his day to day activities. I travel four hours every Sunday to visit him, take care of bills and clean his laundry and sheets. I have now stepped in to clean his home on Sundays as well.
I have a very stressful job and I am not in the best of health. I do the best I can for my Dad and I always will. My brothers will not help me take care of our Dad nor assist me in cleaning his home despite several requests to do so. My Dad will not ask his sons to help him out or myself either. What can I do? S
You’re the giver, never the taker. I can tell that right away and while your quality of selflessness is wonderful and, might I add rare, it’s going to start making you hella bitter. You’re tired of pulling the weight, tired of taking all the responsibility, and tired of sacrificing your own time not to mention your own health – I totally hear ya - so here’s an idea:
I’m not saying stop visiting your dad, but stop taking on every task. Who asked you to be the maid, the accountant and the nurse? I mean, your whole first paragraph is how self-sufficient and happy your dad is, so why are you putting all this pressure on yourself? Maybe this is a cultural thing, maybe it’s guilt, maybe it’s all of the above; either way you’ve got to get to the bottom of it. The long and short of it though is that you’ve gotta cut yourself some slack.
The problem here is you’ve set the precedent and now everyone knows that you’ll take care of everything. They don’t have to lift a finger because they know you’ll do it first, so it’s time to flip the script and pass the buck. Call a family meeting with your brothers and start splitting off some of the responsibilities. I know you might think that your brothers are total useless deadbeats, but I bet you haven’t ever given them a real chance to step in. I have a feeling that the most difficult thing here will not be convincing your brothers to help out, but rather you being able to letting go all these self-assumed duties.
But on the off chance that I’m wrong and your brothers are indeed the deadbeats you say they are, then my overarching advice still remains: take a f-cking load off. I mean that quite literally. If you don’t do the laundry every freaking week and dust every corner of his house, trust me, he’ll be okay. If you keep this up though, you won’t.
Thanks for writing in and I hope this helped! Keep your questions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org xx