Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Helpful" Advice: A Plea From a Guardian

Since the death of my mother,  I have assumed guardianship for my brother.  It's an honor, a pleasure, and both something I've expected to do for a long while and a responsibility that I take seriously. Well meaning people have questioned my decision to take him in when I already deal with Baby Bear and his needs. I've thought about that myself, and prayed about it. I still believe this arrangement is best for everyone. 

While the day to day life has settled down a bit and we are figuring out (still) how to make life run smoothly for everyone, sometimes we do hit a snag. Sometimes it is an easy fix, sometimes not, just as it would be in any family. Today we ran into a brick wall of sorts, and it is heartbreaking for my brother, but much more for me. 

Because of his disabilities, my brother cannot get his driver's license.  As sister I would love to get him that much wanted document. Well meaning family would too, and they have a habit of encouraging him to try. For all well meaning, loving people out there, may I please say STOP IT. Please do not undermine the parent, guardian, or other person responsible for someone's safety and well being. It makes it harder to do our jobs when we are confronted not only with "I want" but also "so and so says...". I know you have the best of intentions and love B. and others like him. That is wonderful. But discuss it with the guardian first, please.

Do you realize the impact your words have on B. (or other friend/ loved one) and his relationship with me? You say things off the cuff, whether you truly believe what you say to be true, or because you would rather not tell the truth in order to spare his feelings. Then you leave and I get to be the one to be the meanie and crush his feelings (at least that's how I feel). 

In my own situation, I've been around longer. I've seen what my brother is and is not capable of. I know what the government has to say about certain aspects of his life (whether or not I agree with their assessment is another story entirely). I can see more clearly the frustration my mother felt when I or someone else tried to give our own two cents. Yes, sometimes she would listen to advice, but for 57 years, give or take, she was the one who lived with him and took care of him. She knew what was best. 

Believe me, I would love it if B. could get his license. But there are safety issues you aren't seeing. Never mind the financial issues that come with that piece of paper and plastic.  Saying no to my brother on anything is very hard. He's older than I am for one thing. The main reason is I love him dearly and don't want to see him hurt, whether emotionally or physically.

Lest anyone think I am speaking directly to one or more certain persons, I am not. I'm just putting out there what I see in general. Family and friends are very important and should be there to encourage and help, not to cause problems, intentionally or unintentionally.

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