Author Topic: You're Not My Sister  (Read 10287 times)

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Hmmmmm

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2013, 07:33:54 PM »
I wonder if the complexity of the multiple marriages comes into play here.  When your dad was married to her mom she presumably came into contact with your eldest half sibling and lived with your (and her) half sibling from your dad's second marriage.  If she's stayed in touch with your siblings after the marriage broke down and you're in touch with them I can see the leap to "we're all one family/siblings", I'm not saying it makes sense, just that I can see it.

Where the etiquette comes into it I think some gentle back up from your siblings and your mom towards her could be useful.  A few soft phrases such as "dirtyweasel didn't grow up with you like we did so it's understandable you guys don't have a sibling relationship".

I wondered this too. The two of you share a half sister and she viewed your Dad as hers too.  Do you have any type of relationship with the half sister the two of you share? Does she and that sister have a relationship?  Being older, she might remember the excitement of you being born and hears stories of your years growing up from your father and the shared sister. So in her mind you were part of the family.

I guess none of that really matters to your question. I think you can either ignore your mothers comments and not address or you can politely respond. If you do decide to respond, I'd send a card that says given the limited amounts of in person interactions you've never developed the feelings of sisterhood. But you enjoy staying in touch and hope your relationship can continue as it is.

Sharnita

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #16 on: April 27, 2013, 07:38:37 PM »
I think people bring up some significant points.  It is entirely possible that she might reasonabley consider you her sister while at the same time you just as reasonably do not consider her your sister.

As far as how to navigate this, I am not sure.  I don't know that it really is/can be addressed by simple rules of etiquette.

blarg314

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #17 on: April 27, 2013, 07:55:31 PM »
I'm not sure  there's actually a name for that relationship. Full sisters would share the same parents. Half sisters would share a single parent. Step-sisters wouldn't be biologically related, but their parents would have married. If your father legally adopted her, you could call it adoptive sisters, it doesn't sound like that's the case. If you had grown up as sisters, even without a legal/biological bond, you could even dub it de-facto sisters.

But in the end, you've got someone you've met maybe three times in your life and you don't communicate outside of a cordial Facebook relationship. It's clear that she sees your connection through your father as a close relationship, and wants to push it further, but you don't need to.

I don't think there is a tactful way to directly tell her that you regard her as a distant acquaintance and have no particular interest in a closer relationship, so passing a message through your Mom is probably a good idea.

It strikes me that this is a similar situation to someone finding their birth family, or discovering half-siblings they hadn't known about. Sometimes it results in a close relationship, but sometimes one side has little or zero interest in becoming family. And when that happens, you can't force a close relationship.


emwithme

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2013, 08:32:55 AM »
Coming from a (very) blended family, I completely understand where you're coming from.

There are three men I call my "brothers", T, M and J.  This is because I grew up with them.  T is not genetically related to me in any way, and M & J are half brothers (one from each parent).   I also have two step-siblings, A and D.  I do not count these as my siblings, although I do class A's children as my nieces (but not D's).  This is because of the closeness of relationship between myself, A and D, and their respective children.   

J has a brother, S.  S is not my brother (although I did appreciate the time in a nightclub when I was a teen when J stopped me from kissing S) although he has the same genetic connection with me as J does, because I did not grow up with him.  Like MM, I think I have met S about three or four times (although it may be more if you count "being drunk in the same place at the same time"). 

If S tried to claim me as his sister, I would definitely have something to say about it. T, M and J have no choice.  They are stuck with me ;D...

But then again, I am ALSO my own cousin.  My family is so complicated that when given homework aged 9 to draw a family tree (from grandparents down), my mum went into school to explain to the teacher why mine looked *really* complicated.   

SPuck

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2013, 04:51:59 PM »
But then again, I am ALSO my own cousin.  My family is so complicated that when given homework aged 9 to draw a family tree (from grandparents down), my mum went into school to explain to the teacher why mine looked *really* complicated.   

Something like that happened in my family. After my grandmother divorced my grandfather he married his sister-in-law (my grandmother's brother's wife) so my mother's cousins became her step-siblings. The girls in the family still considered themselves cousins, but the two boys in the original family unit called each other brother while their parents were married. I think it only lasted eight years to a decade.

Anyway when it comes down to family it all depends on your choice. My uncle and his cousin/former step-brother don't call each other brother any more but they are still close.

emwithme

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2013, 10:08:08 AM »
But then again, I am ALSO my own cousin.  My family is so complicated that when given homework aged 9 to draw a family tree (from grandparents down), my mum went into school to explain to the teacher why mine looked *really* complicated.   

Something like that happened in my family. After my grandmother divorced my grandfather he married his sister-in-law (my grandmother's brother's wife) so my mother's cousins became her step-siblings. The girls in the family still considered themselves cousins, but the two boys in the original family unit called each other brother while their parents were married. I think it only lasted eight years to a decade.

Anyway when it comes down to family it all depends on your choice. My uncle and his cousin/former step-brother don't call each other brother any more but they are still close.

Very similar - my mother was my father's second wife.  His third wife is my aunt, my mother's younger sister. 

So - the person who is married to your aunt is your uncle, and your uncle's children are your cousins.  My father is also my uncle and I am my own cousin.  It means that my step-siblings (A and D), who are from my aunt/step-mother's first marriage, were initially my couins. 

I used to joke to my grandma (mum's mum) that she owed me two presents on birthdays and christmas because she was my grandma twice over.  Her response "In that case, you need to visit and love me twice as much".  We had a deal there.   :)

sparksals

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2013, 10:16:56 AM »
Coming from a (very) blended family, I completely understand where you're coming from.

There are three men I call my "brothers", T, M and J.  This is because I grew up with them.  T is not genetically related to me in any way, and M & J are half brothers (one from each parent).   I also have two step-siblings, A and D.  I do not count these as my siblings, although I do class A's children as my nieces (but not D's).  This is because of the closeness of relationship between myself, A and D, and their respective children.   

J has a brother, S.  S is not my brother (although I did appreciate the time in a nightclub when I was a teen when J stopped me from kissing S) although he has the same genetic connection with me as J does, because I did not grow up with him.  Like MM, I think I have met S about three or four times (although it may be more if you count "being drunk in the same place at the same time"). 

If S tried to claim me as his sister, I would definitely have something to say about it. T, M and J have no choice.  They are stuck with me ;D...

But then again, I am ALSO my own cousin.  My family is so complicated that when given homework aged 9 to draw a family tree (from grandparents down), my mum went into school to explain to the teacher why mine looked *really* complicated.   

Could you please use pseudonyms?  Your post is extremely difficult to understand because of all the letters for names and the possessives.   If it was only a couple, it would be easy, but once the possessives  entered the equation, I got.completely lost.

stitchygreyanonymouse

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2013, 10:59:26 AM »
I also have a similar situation in my family. My "dad" (who is technically my ex-step-father, but raised me), lived with a woman for many years after his and my momís divorce, and her daughter (a few years younger than me) lived with them. So, when my younger half-sisters and I went for our every-other-weekend visitations, there were technically four daughters in the house.

I think largely because of "oldest child syndrome" so to speak, she and I constantly butted heads. My younger sisters just had a second older sister who they sometimes got along with, sometimes didnít. As a result, they typically consider her their step-sister, and call her that on Facebook (or just sister) while I consider her more "the daughter of my dadís ex." She and my dad also still have a relationship.

Weíre friends on Facebook, and I sent her a homemade quilt when she had a baby (mostly because I wanted an excuse to make one), and we are friendly when we end up at the same events (rare, since I live across the country), but we donít talk otherwise. She has made references to me as her step-sister though.

Related, I call my bio-dadís wifeís daughters my sisters (or step-sisters when clarifying), not necessarily for the legality of our parentsí relationship, but because we do have a relationship. I visit them when I go home. I consider their kids my nieces and nephews, and hope to have a life-long relationship with them. I also have a half-sister on that side, whom I claim as sister because of the blood relationship, and because of my nieces and nephews, but she and I donít have  a close relationship. My step-sisters do not usually call her a sister, because while they tried to maintain a relationship with her, there never has been one unless half-sister needs something from them. No amount of parental intervention is going to change that, and one step-sis did have to tell her Mom "look, just because youíre married to her dad, doesnít make her my sister. A relationship and effort on her part would, but sheís not willing to do that. So, stop."

Long story short, I can totally understand how sheís not your sister, but you may be hers. And thereís nothing wrong with that difference in levels, unless she is coming to you and saying she feels hurt.

Itís not your mom's place to step in and try to force a relationship, or even pass on Bettyís hurt. To her, I would say, "Mom, I recognize her at the level I feel comfortable with. She has never had a sisterly role in my life. If, someday, we have a closer relationship, I may change my mind, but that is between her and I. Please donít try to guilt me with second-hand information."óor whatever fits your feelings.

bah12

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2013, 11:48:48 AM »
Is there a reason why you are uncomfortable forming some kind of relationship with her?  Is it that you don't want to because she technically isn't a sister or because you just don't like her? 

On one hand, I can understand how you may not want to call someone a sister who isn't related to you or where no definition of sister can be communicated. At the same time, I don't get what the big deal is.  Clearly, she considers your father to be her father and he filled that role for her.  Whether or not he legally adopted her, IMO, is irrelevent.  He thought of her and treated her as a daughter and she has reached out to his subsequent children to also build that family-like relationship

I can understand why she's hurt.  Her 'Dad' and mother divorced and when her dad remarried and had another child, that child, as an adult, rejected her.  I'm not sure why you haven't seen her more than three times (was that a function of your dad and her mom's relationship?  Your mom?  You?  Her? or a combination of all the above?).  Certainly, it's understandable that you don't feel that close to her considering how little interaction that you have had with her, and it's absolutely your perrogative if you don't want to build a relationship with her now.  Etiquette-wise, I think you're in the clear to ignore her relationship request on FB and remain as distant or as close as you are comfortable with.  relationship-wise, I would encourage you to really evaluate why you feel the way you do.  Your father has passed on.  You and she have a link through him and share the fact that he cared deeply for both of you.  If she's not otherwise an annoying or bad person, having that relationship with her may actually be very rewarding for both of you. 

Calistoga

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2013, 12:15:45 PM »
Was your mom "Taking her side" on this one, or just passing on the message that she was upset?

I can sympathize on both sides of this one. I have 3 half brothers, Matthew, Mark, and John. Mark and John are on my dads side. My dad left when I was 6, and we stopped seeing each other. A few years ago, out of the blue, I get a call from Mark. Apparently he had fallen out with our dad's side of the family, but when our grandfather died, he started trying to reconnect. We ended up inviting each other to our respective weddings. I chat occasionally with John as well, and I consider both of these guys to be my brothers. Listed on facebook and everything.

Matthew is on my mothers side. I didn't meet him for the first time until I was 22, and I really did not like him. The two of us do not have a relationship- I briefly accepted his friendship on facebook, but removed him after a month because he was really annoying. While we share some blood, I don't feel like he's my brother, and we don't push the issue.

My mother remarried when I was nine to a man who had two kids, Andy and Ella. Ella was 3 years older than me, and I felt really close to her. Andy is my age. When Ella passed away, I mourned the loss of a sister. I am much closer with my step siblings than I am with my biological siblings, and I call them my brother and sister.

I think that the relationship you have with this girl will be what you make of it. It's unfair for her to feel entitled to a wedding invitation when the relationship isn't close. If she wants a real sister bond, it will take time to build up. If you don't mind her as a person, treat her the way you would a friend. Maybe you'll get closer. Maybe you won't. As adults, trying to make a sisterly bond form is difficult, and it's not something everyone WANTS to make. She clearly does for one reason or another.

I don't think you need to say "You aren't my sister." The best approach might be to consider her an overly enthusiastic friend.

emwithme

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2013, 05:07:59 PM »
Coming from a (very) blended family, I completely understand where you're coming from.

There are three men I call my "brothers", Tony, Mark and Joe.  This is because I grew up with them.  Tony is not genetically related to me in any way, and Mark & Joe are half brothers (one from each parent).   I also have two step-siblings, Amanda and David.  I do not count these as my siblings, although I do class Amanda's children as my nieces (but not David's).  This is because of the closeness of relationship between myself, Amanda and David, and their respective children.   

Joe has a brother, Simon.  Simon is not my brother (although I did appreciate the time in a nightclub when I was a teen when Joe stopped me from kissing Simon) although he has the same genetic connection with me as Joe does, because I did not grow up with him.  Like Mental Magpie I think I have met Simon about three or four times (although it may be more if you count "being drunk in the same place at the same time"). 

If Simon tried to claim me as his sister, I would definitely have something to say about it. Tony, Mark and Joe have no choice.  They are stuck with me ;D...

But then again, I am ALSO my own cousin.  My family is so complicated that when given homework aged 9 to draw a family tree (from grandparents down), my mum went into school to explain to the teacher why mine looked *really* complicated.   

Could you please use pseudonyms?  Your post is extremely difficult to understand because of all the letters for names and the possessives.   If it was only a couple, it would be easy, but once the possessives  entered the equation, I got.completely lost.

No problem, I have amended in the quote box above :)

Lady Snowdon

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #26 on: April 30, 2013, 10:24:47 PM »
Is there a reason why you are uncomfortable forming some kind of relationship with her?  Is it that you don't want to because she technically isn't a sister or because you just don't like her? 

On one hand, I can understand how you may not want to call someone a sister who isn't related to you or where no definition of sister can be communicated. At the same time, I don't get what the big deal is.  Clearly, she considers your father to be her father and he filled that role for her.  Whether or not he legally adopted her, IMO, is irrelevent.  He thought of her and treated her as a daughter and she has reached out to his subsequent children to also build that family-like relationship

I can understand why she's hurt.  Her 'Dad' and mother divorced and when her dad remarried and had another child, that child, as an adult, rejected her.  I'm not sure why you haven't seen her more than three times (was that a function of your dad and her mom's relationship?  Your mom?  You?  Her? or a combination of all the above?).  Certainly, it's understandable that you don't feel that close to her considering how little interaction that you have had with her, and it's absolutely your perrogative if you don't want to build a relationship with her now.  Etiquette-wise, I think you're in the clear to ignore her relationship request on FB and remain as distant or as close as you are comfortable with.  relationship-wise, I would encourage you to really evaluate why you feel the way you do.  Your father has passed on.  You and she have a link through him and share the fact that he cared deeply for both of you.  If she's not otherwise an annoying or bad person, having that relationship with her may actually be very rewarding for both of you.

I don't think the OP needs to have a reason for not wanting to claim someone as a sister.  If you don't feel the relationship is there, I don't think that anyone should force that.  I use the example of my own family for this.  Growing up, I had no contact with my bio-dad's family beyond maybe one or two cards at my birthday or at Christmas.  On my 18th birthday, I got a card from my bio-dad, and the relationship was so tenuous that I had to ask my mom who the card came from.  Anyway, once I turned 18, that side of the family wanted a relationship badly.  They got really pushy about me accepting them as aunts, grandma, etc.  The thing is, I already had a family.  My mom's family and my step-dad's family.  I didn't feel that people who made no real effort to contact me for 18 years counted as family, and I let them know that.  Not in a mean way, but more of a "I'm not ready for a close relationship" type of way.  They wanted to force a relationship on me that I didn't feel and didn't want.  I still don't want that kind of relationship with them, and I don't feel that's wrong.  They may want more, but that doesn't mean that what they want overrides what I want.

Lynn2000

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #27 on: May 01, 2013, 11:20:21 AM »
Is there a reason why you are uncomfortable forming some kind of relationship with her?  Is it that you don't want to because she technically isn't a sister or because you just don't like her? 

On one hand, I can understand how you may not want to call someone a sister who isn't related to you or where no definition of sister can be communicated. At the same time, I don't get what the big deal is.  Clearly, she considers your father to be her father and he filled that role for her.  Whether or not he legally adopted her, IMO, is irrelevent.  He thought of her and treated her as a daughter and she has reached out to his subsequent children to also build that family-like relationship

I can understand why she's hurt.  Her 'Dad' and mother divorced and when her dad remarried and had another child, that child, as an adult, rejected her.  I'm not sure why you haven't seen her more than three times (was that a function of your dad and her mom's relationship?  Your mom?  You?  Her? or a combination of all the above?).  Certainly, it's understandable that you don't feel that close to her considering how little interaction that you have had with her, and it's absolutely your perrogative if you don't want to build a relationship with her now.  Etiquette-wise, I think you're in the clear to ignore her relationship request on FB and remain as distant or as close as you are comfortable with.  relationship-wise, I would encourage you to really evaluate why you feel the way you do.  Your father has passed on.  You and she have a link through him and share the fact that he cared deeply for both of you.  If she's not otherwise an annoying or bad person, having that relationship with her may actually be very rewarding for both of you.

POD to this. Obviously it's a complex situation and, as someone else said, I can see why she might reasonably consider you her sister, while you reasonably don't consider her your sister. I don't think you have any obligation under etiquette to respond to the second-hand complaints/comments or to change the way you interact with her at all, if you don't want to.

That being said, you do have the option of trying to grow closer to her, if you want to. I can see how it would feel pushy and off-putting for her to keep labeling you as "sister" when you don't feel the same way. But if you don't have any other objection to her, you might consider stepping up your interaction a little bit--maybe longer emails or something like that, to get to know each other better. You could start with memories about your father and older siblings--you won't have the same memories but they'll be of the same people, and maybe that would be interesting and enlightening to you.

relationships are dynamic and change all the time, especially once people hit adulthood and can make their own decisions. Maybe you were never able to be "sisters" growing up, because the adults in your lives weren't interested in facilitating that. In consequence you don't know her very well. But, you don't have to maintain that level if you don't want to--you could try increasing it a little, on your own terms, to see what she's like and what she has to offer. And maybe she would be thrilled with a small increase, and stop pushing for full "sisterhood" as she comes to know you better (or you might be better positioned to gently suggest she back off).

But, it's totally up to you. Etiquette-wise you can just ignore any complaints from her and stay at the level you're at, or even reduce the level if she irritates you. I was just thinking that one of things I enjoyed as I got older (became an adult) was the opportunity to connect with relatives on my own terms, rather than through my parents.
~Lynn2000

bah12

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #28 on: May 01, 2013, 12:12:58 PM »
Is there a reason why you are uncomfortable forming some kind of relationship with her?  Is it that you don't want to because she technically isn't a sister or because you just don't like her? 

On one hand, I can understand how you may not want to call someone a sister who isn't related to you or where no definition of sister can be communicated. At the same time, I don't get what the big deal is.  Clearly, she considers your father to be her father and he filled that role for her.  Whether or not he legally adopted her, IMO, is irrelevent.  He thought of her and treated her as a daughter and she has reached out to his subsequent children to also build that family-like relationship

I can understand why she's hurt.  Her 'Dad' and mother divorced and when her dad remarried and had another child, that child, as an adult, rejected her.  I'm not sure why you haven't seen her more than three times (was that a function of your dad and her mom's relationship?  Your mom?  You?  Her? or a combination of all the above?).  Certainly, it's understandable that you don't feel that close to her considering how little interaction that you have had with her, and it's absolutely your perrogative if you don't want to build a relationship with her now.  Etiquette-wise, I think you're in the clear to ignore her relationship request on FB and remain as distant or as close as you are comfortable with.  relationship-wise, I would encourage you to really evaluate why you feel the way you do.  Your father has passed on.  You and she have a link through him and share the fact that he cared deeply for both of you.  If she's not otherwise an annoying or bad person, having that relationship with her may actually be very rewarding for both of you.

I don't think the OP needs to have a reason for not wanting to claim someone as a sister.  If you don't feel the relationship is there, I don't think that anyone should force that.  I use the example of my own family for this.  Growing up, I had no contact with my bio-dad's family beyond maybe one or two cards at my birthday or at Christmas.  On my 18th birthday, I got a card from my bio-dad, and the relationship was so tenuous that I had to ask my mom who the card came from.  Anyway, once I turned 18, that side of the family wanted a relationship badly.  They got really pushy about me accepting them as aunts, grandma, etc.  The thing is, I already had a family.  My mom's family and my step-dad's family.  I didn't feel that people who made no real effort to contact me for 18 years counted as family, and I let them know that.  Not in a mean way, but more of a "I'm not ready for a close relationship" type of way.  They wanted to force a relationship on me that I didn't feel and didn't want.  I still don't want that kind of relationship with them, and I don't feel that's wrong.  They may want more, but that doesn't mean that what they want overrides what I want.

Of course she doesn't have to have a reason or look for one if she doesn't want to.  But I do think that evaluating her own feelings and why she has them will help her tremendously in figuring out how to deal with this particular connection if at all.  No one has to justify their feelings.  But that doesn't mean exploring those feelings and the reasons behind them wouldn't be beneficial (and there's no way around it...there is a reason...always...she just doesn't have to share it.  My question wasn't asking her to tell us, but more, tell herself.) 

NyaChan

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Re: You're Not My Sister
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2013, 12:56:43 PM »
Knowing why she doesn't want the relationship can make a difference in how to deal the situation.  If she doesn't want a relationship because the woman was mean and toxic every time she met her, OP might go with a more brusque or hardline approach.  If it is merely that she feels no emotional connection to her but doesn't mind her in general, a friendlier tone will help preserve the peace.