How do I get my siblings to realize that it is important to be with our parents during the holidays?

6 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

How do I get my siblings to realize that it is important to visit my parents during the holidays? They never come on holidays and it makes me so sad for my parents.

Expert Answers

You didn't give many details, for example, do your parents routinely ask your siblings to come for the holidays? Do your siblings live far away? Are they not coming because of bad feelings, or for some other reason?

Of course, you can't force your siblings to visit, whether you think they ought to or not. What you can do is to simply tell them -- without being accusing or judgmental -- that it would mean a lot to your parents for them to visit during the holidays. It's possible that they are so wrapped up in their own lives that this has not occured to them. You could get the ball rolling by hosting a holiday dinner at your house next year, and inviting your siblings and your parents. Give everyone plenty of advance notice, keep it low-key and low-pressure, and let your siblings know how much your parents are looking forward to the event. With luck, and assuming the celebration goes smoothly, everyone will want to do it again next year, and you'll have established a new family tradition.

Community Answers

Missy answered...

Something that has worked for my family, as we're all busy and living in different part of the country, is to focus on the day, rather than the date.  Since we all have kids, it's sometimes unreasonable for us to be in the same place at the same time on Christmas day.  Though we can typically arrange to be altogether on a different with within the Christmas season.  And trust me, when that gathering occurs, you'd have no idea it was not December 25th!  There are presents, music, food...everything you'd expect.  Thankfully my parents seem to accept these gatherings and don't have hard feelings on the actual holiday when things are a bit quieter.  Hope that helps!

Sabrina winters answered...

You situation is not an uncommon one. We all have our own lives that at times gets difficult to manage. Then you add all the stresses of the holiday season and for many it becomes completely unmanagable. The holidays do affect each of us in a unique way.

You did not provide many details on the age or health of your parents or whether they are healthy or ill. Do you think any of those factors may be the reason why your siblings have chosen to not share their holidays with your parents? Maybe if they are sick it is difficult for them to deal with that. Or maybe if they are very senior that your siblings are having a hard time facing that. There are so many reasons why they may be keeping their distance. Maybe an open honest conversation might be warranted. The one thing I can say from personal experience is that you cannot "make" anyone want to spend time with someone. That has to come from the heart.

Missy also gives some great suggestions. It isn't so much about the day but the reason for the celebration. Maybe celebrating before or after the holidays may be best for the family. Finances may be better; spirits may be happier and the stresses of the holiday will be gone.

However it turns out, if it is important to you to be with your parents then go ahead and do it. You do not want to regret missing any time spent with them because of someone else's reasons for not being able to participate. You enjoy every minute you can with them and make them happy in any way that you can. They will cherrish that!

Ca-claire answered...

I just wish that 2 of my 3 siblings would 'really' visit, rather than just stay for a meal, then leave and count that as a visit. At one point, one sibling was frustrated with me and said that had spent 6 'days' that year with our parents (most likely dinner one evening, breakfast the next AM, then left - 3 times that year). I know that once they are both gone, they will regret 'rationing' their time with our parents.

What's most important is that YOU are spending as much time as you can with your parents. All you can do is encourage siblings and other relatives to visit. What they do is their choice, not yours.....

Sue from oz. answered...

This has been an ongoing problem for many years now with our family. Like Claire, our brother and his family turn up, eat their meal and then disappear for another 12 months. This has made me very upset but now I think you can't make people or shame people into coming to visit their family. It has to be on their terms. My parents are well into their 80's and I just focus on what time I can spend with them, and just let the others do what they can when they can. It saddens me greatly but there's absolutely nothing further I can do about it.

Ca-claire answered...

It is very difficult. When I bring up the subject with any of my 3 siblings, they always say that "Dad understands that we can't spend holidays with him". If Dad did not have dementia, I would absolutely agree with them. For many, many years Crhistmas was celebrated on one of the weekends in December. Even as kids, we were rarely home on the actual Christmas day. We skiied, or went on trips, taking Christmas with us, still celebrating on "the" day.

Now that Dad has Dementia and lives in Assisted Living, where much ado is made about the actual day, he is less likely to "understand" about not being visited at the holiday. Family doesn't "get" this when it comes to Holidays, but does "get" it with other things like showering, meals, inability to write checks, take care of finances.

All that I can do is mention the Holidays, and then plan my Holidays around being with Dad. He really misses Mom, and misses his independence, but is unable to muster up the strength to take his independence back.

Time to just worry about what we can control, and that is our own behavior. Do the best you can do and leave the rest to Heavenly Father!