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Torn between generations

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  • #1031214 Reply

    I am writing to discuss a unique and unfortunate incident in my family. I am trying to communicate with my sister who, I feel, is overly dedicated to my parents. My parents live in Korea and my sister and I live in the US. We had gathered recently for my brothers wedding in Korea and my father is feeling unwell. I laud my sisters dedication towards my parents, esp my father, who is often unwell. My parents also have a pretty strained relationship and so my father barely talks to my mother , so everytime we visit, my sister spends at least 8-10 hrs a day talking to him. Most of my father’s conversation is around how disrespect my mother is towards him and how he has nobody to talk to,but Ive no idea what his expectations from my sister are. I have kids and if i priotitize my kids needs over my parents while Im visiting my sister gets very impatient/annoyed with me. Since my father is feeling unwell now, my sister is proposing that we cancel the wedding. This is just the 2 families getting together for a civil marriage, its not a real wedding. None of us including my father want to cancel/ postpone the event since it has already been postponed for the last 12 months due to covid. She is literally begging everyone to cancel the event and insisting that I stay back for a few more weeks to help with dr’s aptments and such, which is impossible with 2 kids. She tries to micromanage every aspect of my parents lives. She is thinking of declining a very much awaited and hard earned job offer that she recvd in the US and moving back to Korea. She has suddenly decided never to have kids since she doesn’t want to ‘trouble’ them when she grows old. I feel like she is putting her life on hold because of my father’s illness which indirectly implies that I am selfish for having built my own life away from where my parents live. I am willing to pay for attendants to look after my parents, willing to host them in my house a few months every yr as well, willing to visit them every yr. But I am tired, mentally worn out and puzzled. A lot of people have aged parents, is it selfish to think of your kids first or build your life inspite of that?

    #1031220 Reply

    This seems not so much ‘torn between generations’ as your title states than a big difference in thinking between your sister on the one hand and your brother and you on the other. Your parents don’t want your brother to further postpone his wedding, only your sister wants that and she is being very insistent about that. I’m guessing that she is not so much putting her life on hole for your father as reacting based upon something already happening in her own life.

    #1031223 Reply

    It sounds like your sister wants to be the peacekeeper/problem solver.

    It’s not up to your sister to request brother and his fiancés to cancel their wedding nuptials. Remind her that that day is not about her or anyone else but about brother/fiancés and family is supportive for them to continue on. In a firmly nice way, tell her to drop it asap and it’s no longer a topic to discuss.

    Your children are your top priority over everyone else and YOU KNOW THAT but your childless sister does not understand. And the other issue is that your sister is willingly able to up route her whole life to come care for your parents. So what can you do or say so you don’t feel guilted for making your kids a top priority and concerned she will possible ruin her career/life to care for her parents – you say “Sister, I am happy that you want to support our parents as their primary caregiver. I am going to miss being closer to you but I understand you feel your place is with our parents. I am willing to pay for attendants to look after our parents, willing to host them in my house a few months every yr as well, and willing to visit them every yr. Just let me know how I can help and when.”

    Also, let your parents know this is what you can do.

    I am sorry your father is ill and know that it is stressful and adds alot more stress when they are many miles away.

    #1031224 Reply

    So, I am part of a Western culture where family obligations, and the obligations of adult children is different than yours. So, my advice is limited here, because I don’t have to operate with quite the same expectations you do.

    That said, I am married to a man who is an only child, whose widowed mother developed dementia pretty young. We ourselves are pretty young (early thirties when we realized something was off and we’d need to step in). Like I said, he doesn’t have siblings, and his extended family (his uncles, the brothers of his mother), have been pretty hands off.

    And I can tell you, elder care is hard. Not getting help is hard. Having this obligation to help this elderly woman stay alive and healthy, sometimes to the determinant of our personal goals (starting our own family, focusing on our careers), was hard. And it was hard not to resent my husband’s relatives for not stepping in. After all, they’re retired and their children are already grown, couldn’t they do more?

    So, if your sister feels like she’s taking the primary lead on your parents and wrongly or rightly perceives her siblings aren’t taking their fair share, makes sense she feels pissed. What is she sacrificing to ensure your parents are well cared for, while you and your brother get to attend to your personal lives (your children, his marriage?)

    Not to say you should focus less on your children, but you three adult children should talk. Are there ways you can help take the load off your sister? Can you help contribute financially? Can you coordinate some elements of their care from afar (I’m American so hopefully help for elder care is better in Korea – but here it’s a lot a lot of paperwork and coordinating between insurers, providers, financial institutions, yadda yadda yadda). Can you and your brother commit to coming over on a regular basis to give her a break? Can you just outright give her money as compensation for all her work.

    It *is* unfair for one sibling to have to sacrifice their entire personal and professional goals so the other two can have them. One of you may need to be the primary caregiver and unfortunately that may be her, but you and your brother need to participate and support her in whatever ways you can.

    #1031225 Reply

    And reading your post more clearly – it does seem like you are willing and able to offer other forms of help.

    I think the three of you need to have a sit-down (or Zoom call) where you have a really candid conversation about what mom and dad need, and how you three can split it up. You can be really clear that you can do X,Y, and Z, but not A, B, and C that she wants you to, at least not until your kids are older.

    She may still be mad or think it’s not enough. Oh well, let her.

    Do make sure you are clear about what you can and cannot do, but make an effort to do as much as you can to help support your parents care. And yeah, you may need to overextend yourself here and there – as should your brother. Again, I realize I come from a different culture where expectations for male children may be different, but F it, he should be playing a role here too. It shouldn’t be just on the girls, and it definitely shouldn’t be on the one girl that had the misfortunate of still being single when the need arose.

    #1031227 Reply

    One final thought.

    I don’t think the wedding should be cancelled, but I think your sister’s call for it to delayed is her way of trying to say “HEY GUYS, THINGS AREN’T GOOD HERE. WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING BEFORE WE HAVE A TRAGEDY. I’M TRYING TO GET IN FRONT OF THIS TRAIN BUT I NEED HELP”

    So, schedule this sibling conversation, right now.

    Get it out on the table how everyone perceives how your parents are doing, what kind of care do they need, how can that be accomplished, in what ways can everyone contribute, and how can the person taking on the bulk of it be supported?

    Ultimately not everyone may be happy with how things are being split up (I mean, again, elder care is rough stuff), but it sounds like you are all overdue for a conversation.

    #1031228 Reply

    Your sister wants to decline a job in the US, where she currently lives, swear off having kids, and dedicate the rest of her life to being her parents caretaker. I’m with Ron, sounds like she’s running from something in her life. Something is stressing her out enough to give up her entire life. Don’t apologize for not being able to stay extra weeks in Korea. Continue to provide for your parents what you can

    #1031232 Reply

    I guess OP – in your opinion, what do you think your parents’ needs are? Do you think they are currently being met, or not?

    Do you agree with your sister that they need some sort of assistance at this point in there lives?

    If you do, how do you think they should be handled? Do you think it would be best if a family member took care of them? Would you be okay with your sister being the primary care giver if she would just stop being so judgey? Or do you think she’s way over the line – your parents are fine and she is way overthinking what they need, to her own detriment.

    I am in no means saying your sister is right and you’re wrong and need to do more, but it does sound like it would behoove you all to…have a conversation and if not get on the same page, at least surface where everyone is at and what everyone is willing and capable of doing, instead of assuming.

    And the fact of the matter is even if your parents don’t need help *today*, that day will come, probably sooner rather than later. So again, it’s probably worth having this conversation now and coming up with a plan.

    #1031234 Reply

    Certainly worth fact-gathering and discussing among the sibs. I was struck by the father’s constant complaint that their mother doesn’t respect him sufficiently and the LW’s sister talking with him about this 8 hours a day. It sounds less like dire need of the parents for support and more like the sister taking sides in her parents’ marital dispute. I still think sister has her own problems, which are driving many of her actions. Like: her demand that brother delay his wedding makes no sense. And before you say she just wants time among all the sibs to discuss their parents’ needs, she has that time now, but chooses to spend it supporting father against mother.

    #1031235 Reply

    Hmm yeah maybe. I think they need to talk about what’s going on. Certainly it’s my own bias – having to help my husband with eldercare for his mother – but the pieces I picked up on were the father being unwell, and the sister wanting OP to stay in Korea a few weeks longer to help with doctors appointments, and general concern about his “decline”.

    Or maybe she is picking parental sides in a marital dispute. Or maybe she’s trying to run away from something in her life, or maybe all of that.

    But, as with most of us, the LW’s parents are getting older, and at least two of the adult children are living an ocean away. A conversation now about how to handle their aging parents (especially if mom and dad you know, don’t get along and maybe shouldn’t’ be left to care for one another/left together at all) now and into the future and who can help in what ways, is probably a good idea to have soon. As in now.

    All three siblings. And if their parents have mental capacity, they should be included too.

    #1031301 Reply

    @Adaughte, you said “A lot of people have aged parents, is it selfish to think of your kids first or build your life inspite of that?”.

    A) for Western culture, it is not selfish to put your own kids first or your own life first. Everyone deserve an independent live and freedom of choice.

    B) for Asian culture, beside obligation, it is a moral and ethical and a child/children’s filial toward their elders parents. This is Asian culture. After all your own kids are observing how you handle your own aged parents now and they will follow your own footstep when you get old like your parents. And don’t forget Karma.

    C) Did your parents put their own needs first before you when you were born, baby, young and grow up?

    Every human have a least two hearts, left side and right side, selfish and unselfish. It’s up to you.

    You have 3 siblings including you. You guys can take turn take care of your parents for a few months. Or live in one designated home throughout the year and the other two sibling will provide financially and whatever it needs in the process example in-home care taker or whatever so you can still go to work if not work at home due to pandemic. Since your sister is so devoted to take care of them and move to Korea then you and your other sibling offer financial support while she’s there.

    My advice to you is visit your parents as much as you can before it’s too late or you’ll regret it in your heart when they’re gone.

    As for your sister, she is entitle for making any decisions for her and life. She is not entitle to make any decisions for others. Postpone wedding or not make no diff and it doesn’t disrespect your parents.

    #1031302 Reply

    Your sister is not indirectly imply at you or anyone. She may or may not have her own secret or personal reasons to not want to get married. Or maybe because she hasn’t found or met the right one yet. Let her be. Respect and support her choice. Don’t make her feel bad. She wants to do all that you mentioned in your letter is because right now she is single and available and capable of helping out your parents. Be glad, be appreciate and be grateful that she is flexible.

    Unless you built your own life away from your parents’ was your original interior motive for not wanting to take care of them when they’re old, then you have no need to worry or concern of what people think where you built your life and your own family or where you work. You’re entitle to that choice.

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