Fed Up

By Fran Marmor | December 16th, 2015

BOOMER's therapist has a few things to say about family dynamics when it comes to caregiving.


I am going to sound very mean, and I almost don’t care. My mother is 89 years old and I feel like I am just done with her. I have four siblings, but I have always been the “good daughter” who caters to her and never makes waves. I have been my mother’s playmate, maid and chauffeur, despite the fact that I have teenage children of my own and a husband who would like some time and attention. My mother lives alone and although she’s healthy, she needs me to do more and more things for her and is completely against hiring help. Recently, my mother has been complaining nonstop to my siblings about how I never make time for her and that I am trying to push her into an assisted living place. My siblings can take their turn and figure it out. I am done! Am I horrible?

– Harriet


You do not sound horrible at all. You seem overwhelmed, and I don’t blame you. You obviously love your mother, so you are not done loving her. But you need things to change. I would imagine you are also hurt that your siblings haven’t been more supportive and that your mother seems ungrateful for all of the things you have done for her. Sometimes when one adult child steps in to be the primary support, their siblings don’t realize that it is causing a hardship. You may have made it too easy for them in some ways. A conversation with your siblings would be a great way to start. It would be a good time for you to let them know what you need and to discuss what your mother seems to need. Of course, your mother gets to make her own decisions for as long as she is able. She deserves to know your concerns and hear what her children are and are not willing to do for her. You are definitely in the sandwich generation: You have children who still need your attention and you have an elderly parent who needs care and attention. They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, it takes a village to navigate life at all stages. I’m glad you have siblings to call upon. Perhaps one of them can call the local United Way to find out what resources are available for the elderly and their families. You are still a good daughter, but you are right: It is also time to be good to yourself and set your boundaries.

– Fran

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