Aging professionals should count knowledge of  sibling forgiveness and an understanding of when and how to use it as a tool as one of the major skills they should have in their professional skill set .

Therapists often deal with a crisis with an older parent and attempt to get family members to work together to set up and manage an older person’s care . 

Often, with the dysfunctional and even nearly normal family, the therapist enters a family system, because the midlife siblings are “ stuck”  around parent care- due to hurts, anger rage, and resentment of things that happened to the family years ago.

These past hurts often bring their unhealed sibling  scar tissue into the present and block the therapist care plan, leaving the older client and their paralyzed midlife family unable to provide support for the older person. 

Midlife siblings often cannot easily negotiate the filial crisis.  When the family caregiver comes to the point of burnout, if forgiveness has not been worked through, it is just one more difficult burden to lie at the feet of an older person . It can also become just one more very large reason to inappropriately place an older person in a facility.

So the aging professional  needs to help the family let go of these past traumas, or  sibling wounds,  so the family can not only get the care the older person needs and  also relieve the stress and burden of the family caregiver and midlife siblings.

They  also needs to deal with these past traumas that impoverish the family model and move to change that impoverished model before it becomes the program the next family generation uses thereby passing on the hurt anger and unhealed wounds

If the aging professional  has a clinical background, she or he can help members resolve the blockage her or himself or refer the families to aging professionals who have the clinical expertise and a background in working with the aging family.

About the Authors

Cathy Cress M.S.W.

Cathy Cress, M.S.W., holds a degree in Aging from U.C. Berkeley. She is the coauthor of Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships.

Kali Peterson MS, MPA

Kali Cress Peterson MS, MPA, is the co-author of Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationships.

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