When Siblings Step Up
By ANNE TERGESEN
Sisters and brothers are finding new ways to circumvent old conflicts as they take on one of the toughest roles in their lives: caregiver.
When Rene Talavera's father, Jesus Talavera, 69, was hospitalized for kidney and heart failure last fall, the 45-year-old Chicago resident and his four siblings were catapulted into an uncomfortable new phase of life: caregiving.
But even as the Talavera siblings absorbed the shock of their father's illness, they set aside old conflicts and concerns to work together. "The common thread is that you all love your parent," says Rene Talavera. "It's not about you or an argument you had 20 years ago. It's about Dad and what you can do for him."
Family cohesiveness is a tall order at any time of life. But as parents grow frail, brothers and sisters often encounter new obstacles to togetherness—at precisely the time they most need to rely on one another.
Sibling rivalry can emerge or intensify as adult children vie, one last time, for a parent's love or financial support. And even as parents grow dependent on children, the desire to cling to old, familiar roles can create a dysfunctional mess.
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