Is Your Sister Being Michele Bachman at Thanksgiving ?

Which sibling is organizing Thanksgiving this year- like they organize everything- then tell you what to do. ? Usually it’s the sibling role of the bossy sister.

Who will drive the fancier car to the meal and brag about it at dinner. Will just the midlife daughters clean up the meal while the brothers sit bloated in front of the football game?  What are your family rules? 

Many family rules are silent.- usually no one writes them down, but they get deeply scrawled in indelible ink on our cerebrum. At times hushed codes are a deadly narrative for “I Hate You” stories.

These unspoken rules can set off grudges and excruciating pain both in the past and later in life. Ambiguous, unjust, and riddled with double binds, these silent family laws can be treacherous. The brutal effects of these family cannons might simmer for decades. But when we get to middle age, the results can take on an incendiary life of their own. Let’s look at two family vignettes penned invisibly.

Daryl’s old family rule tells him to never stop trying to beat brother Mike. Sister Ginger’s imperfect operating system tells her that boys get the biggest share and girls the leftovers. These old broken operating systems remain in our brain, substituting for the real universe in the here and now.

This coming holiday, take a look at your family rules as you gather  to give thanks with your family. Which rules as good rules  and your incredibly  glad you have them. Which rules are bad broken and in serious need of changing?

About momlovesyoubest

Cathy Cress holds an MSW in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. Her new book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships , New Horizon Press, was published October 2010. Cress’s book , Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Jones and Bartlett, is the bible of geriatric care management and is out out in a third edition in February 2011 .Her book Care Managers, Working With the Aging Family, Jones and Bartlett,2008 is one of the few major books on the aging family. Ms. Cress is the founder of GCM Consult ,working with small and national who want to add or launch GCM businesses. She is on the faculty at the University of Florida in their on line master’s in geriatric care management -GCM . She has taught geriatric care management at San Francisco State University , UC Berkeley and teaches at Cabrillo College and San Mateo College. She was founder and director of Cresscare, a GCM business, for 25 years.
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