Are you dreading the Memorial Day family barbeque? Will your estranged brother be manning the barbeque leading you to drink to much beer?
Are you a midlife sibling at war with sister or brother? Worse than that, do you feel like you and all your siblings are in not only a dysfunctional family but also an aging dysfunctional family?
What’s an aging dysfunctional family? Well they are very much like a war zone. Clans remain at war with each other, like the 1980’s Serbian conflict or the Iraq war pitting the Sunni’s against the Shia.These tribal battles have gone on for centuries and have the same bloody roots of the dysfunctional family -repeated from one generation to the next.
The hallmarks of the dysfunctional aging family, is, after decades as a motley clan there is still not enough love in the family. The now midlife children have to fight for what little nurturance their older parents can bring to the ancient rickety nest they built.
Nurturing is often missing in the dysfunctional aging family because the aging parents themselves probably got little nurturing themselves as kids and on and on back down the family line. Parental neglect and abuse are frequent in the history of the aging dysfunctional family.
The now older parents can suffer from serious mental health problems such as schizophrenia or are bi-polar. Health and addiction problems like alcoholism are frequent. Family interaction and communication, -parental treatment of siblings, brother and sister treatment of each other stepparent interaction and interface of everyone in the family has wrought deep tissue damage that never healed.
These aging dysfunctional families generally negotiated all of life’s developmental phases with great difficulty. The role in the family, especially the parental one, was murky with a poor, abusive or mentally unfit leader of the family. The rules in the family were unfair ambiguous or full of double binds. There is deep-seated ambivalence. Finally the last life transition in the aging family, the care of the declining parent, implodes the family, which had little balance to begin with. They are asked to care for parents who did not care for them, thus reeking havoc on an already disorganized aging family.
So good luck at the family gathering and perhaps look into my book, Mom Loves You Best: Forgiving and Fostering Sibling Relationships , if you end up with a hangover or acid reflux.