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mootto's avatar

How do I deal with my sister?

Asked by mootto (8points) March 19th, 2011

Hi, I need some advice. I have an older sister who is 20 months older. As far as I can remember, she has been self oriented and sought a lot of attention. My mother always accomodated her needs and gve her the attention that she wanted. There were some sibling rivalry between us, but eventually I passed that mark as I got older.

Now we are in mid-30s and I and my partner are professionals (with designations). She has been married for 7 years and has two boys. Her relationship with her partner is somewhat strange to the social norm as her husband is controlling and she is submissive. The problem is that she uses my parents for domestic help whenever they come for visit. We are from an Asian country and my parents don’t speak English. Everytime they come, my mother works 24/7 to cook, clean and babysit. My mother is a retired teacher and my dad is retired and not well (lung capacity is 1/7 of a normal person). My mother has to care for my sick father and almost works like a maid for my sister.

During the last visit, my mother got so upset and almost had an anxiety attack. The thing is my mother doesn’t speak up because she is so worried about my sister’s marriage. Since 3 years ago, she stopped working (due to relocation) and has been a stayhome mom who doesn’t do much chores. Her husband works a lot of hours and cooks/cleans, etc. Therefore, my mother wants to pick up the slack to somehow cheer up my bro-in law (although she is not the wife). My sister is currently studying in hopes to become an accountant, which seems somewhat unrealistic (I am not trying to be mean but I and my partner are both accountants so we know what is required). She studied more than 5 years to finish an accounting program before she had kids but never finished. She also has poor language skills, which will make it even more defficult.

The issue is that my parents are coming back in late April and will stay at my sister’s house for a couple of months. I am so tired of hearing and seeing my mother at an unspeakable state and I don’t think it is fair for her. However, my mother is not likely to stand up for herself. I don’t want to be any savior or anything but I feel very annoyed and somewhat upset at how my sister treats my parents. She has been the source of problem for the family for a long time and caused quite a disturbance to my parents in her 20’s. I have written her off so many times in life so far but it is hard to keep the distance from her because she is the only blood relative in the country (my parents and brother are still back home)

I feel she keeps her two boys as hostages because my parents want to see their grandkids and in exchange for that, my mother has to work for my sister. There seems to be some problem with my sister’s relationship with her husband and that is why my mother feels pressured to work even harder to make my bro-in law’s life little easier (i.e. clean house, dinner prepared, etc). I am not sure what do any more because everytime I write off, I end up right back to Sq. 1 My mother always asked me to give in/provide for my sister and that kind of made me grow up. Frankly speaking, my sister doesn’t really enjoy motherhood and blaimed my mother for her having children (mom, you asked for it!), which made me laugh. She also acted as if she was doing a favor for the family when she was preg. (as it was the first grandkid).

How do you deal with a person like this? I just want my parents to enjoy their retirement and they have done their job raising us so it is not my mom’s responsibiltiy to take care of the grandkids. I am just so tired of her and feel really ashamed to say I am related to her. The matuirty is not there and I don’t come across people like this in my social circles. I think that she is very insecure in many ways so that makes it very hard to communicate with her; however, she doesn’t do anything positive to improve herself/situation. I don’t think I can give in/accomodate any more. I feel that she thinks she is the main character in the movie and everyone else has supporting roles. I wish she were born in a royal family! I feel that she is still like 16 Any advice???

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6 Answers

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Seaofclouds's avatar

You can tell your sister how you feel or tell your mother that she needs to stand up for herself. It sounds like your mother enables your sister and until she is willing to tell her ‘no’, it will continue. Good luck.

WasCy's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

Unfortunately, there seems to be very little that you can do. One of the things you’ll see in Fluther – because those of us in a position to give advice have generally already realized this, is: “You can’t change other people.”

It’s unlikely that you can get your mother to speak up for herself. It’s unlikely that you can get your sister to be the person she’s capable of being. It’s unlikely that you can get your father, even, to tell your mother, “Enough! You’ll wear yourself out and kill both of us.”

Unfortunately, too, that’s the most likely outcome from all of this, isn’t it? It’s why you wrote, after all.

Your best ally might be your brother-in-law. Perhaps if you spoke to him privately about some of your concerns for your parents (and his children, your niece and nephew), he might be able to ask that your mother not work so hard. Maybe that’s not likely, either.

All else failing, all that you can really do is not obsess over it, and just talk to your mother and listen to her complaints, because she’s sure to have them.

Maybe… maybe you could be really sneaky and offer to take the kids into your own home while your parents visit, so your sister and her husband could “take some time off together”. That way your parents would be visiting in your home, enjoying the grandkids (and you), and you could let them relax and take care of them the way you want. It’s worth a try, right?

BarnacleBill's avatar

Can your parents stay with you instead of your sister? Or, can you afford to buy a one bedroom condo near your sister for your parents to use when they visit? (A friend just did this for a similar circumstance with her parents.)

kitkat25's avatar

When your parents come to visit you can have them stay with you and your husband instead of at your sisters. That way they would be able to relax and enjoy their visit instead of your mom having to work all the time. Your parents could just go to your sister’s house to visit iwth her and the grandkids but then come back to your house to relax and unwind.

You can also try sititng down with your sister and talking to her Let her know that now that your parents are older and retired your mother should not be made to feel like she had to do al the work around the house and taking care of the grandkids when she comes to visit. Remind her of the health problems your dad has that your mom has to deal with and she doesn’t need the added burden of providing full time care for the grandkids. Tell her if she keeps using your parents like this they might not be around that much longer. That might make her wake up and realize how she is taking advantage of your parents.

ReindeerMoon1's avatar

I think that WasCy is right on point here. You and your sister are both in your thirties and it hasn’t changed yet. Unfortunately, that means it’s not likely to anytime soon, if ever. Trying to talk to any of the people directly involved in this family drama is going to backfire bigtime, I promise you. The best thing you can do – not the easiest, mind you, but the best – is to plan a few days out with your parents alone. A couple of day trips for sight seeing, shopping, whatever. Just get them out of your sister’s house so they can relax a bit. Then plan a couple of trips with the niece and nephew, leaving all the other grown-ups at home alone for a day or two. The zoo, an amusement park or museum, maybe a water park?
The role for you to take here is that of helpful neutrality. Be the person who is always ready to lend a hand or help out in some indirect way, and make sure everyone knows it.
This approach worked wonders for me personally. Your situation seems more fraught than my own was and continues to be at times. But simply stepping back saying clearly to everyone, “I’m here if you need me, anytime” or “why don’t I take the kids today so you can rest” and then DO it. It speaks volumes. I wish you luck.

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