Conflict is a normal part of family life and in the case of sibling conflicts, it often continues throughout our lives.  Some people discover that their conflict as adults looks very similar to the conflicts between them as children.  This is because we learn our responses to conflict within our families and at a very young age.  If you are experiencing conflicts with your adult siblings, consider the following.  How much of this conflict is linked to past family situations?  You’ll know the answer if you hear yourself saying, “He ALWAYS does that” or “She NEVER seems to get my point.”.  Try focusing on the present and the concern at hand.  Start with identifying your own needs, interests and motivators in the situation and focus on the present not the past.  Some common needs are: 1) to know your parent is comfortable and cared for; 2) to have positive relationships with siblings; AND 3) to ensure that siblings don’t get burned out caring for a parent.  Rather than having the typical unproductive discussion which might be characterized by someone refusing to talk, stomping off, or raised voices, try asking open questions.  Here are some examples to get you started.  What would be your ideal scenario for dad’s situation?  What role do you want to play in his care?  How does being involved in his care and/or decision-making impact you? What do you think would happen if we…..?

In some situations, the tension is too high or there is too much water under the bridge to make the conversation productive on your own.  In these situations, consider hiring a mediator to help everyone feel heard and to create a plan that benefits all family members.