Author Topic: Difficult Sister  (Read 6690 times)

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Aria

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Difficult Sister
« on: May 19, 2013, 02:53:31 PM »
As a young teenager, my younger sister, “Claudia,” had the typical “I know everything and you know nothing” attitude. She was always right and everyone else was dumb. She would argue with everything you said, no matter how neutral. As she got older, she became more mature, and would only get snippy like before when she was in a bad mood (although it happened fairly often). When she matured, she and I became pretty close. We have a lot of similar interests and similar tastes, so it was fun to spend time with her. However, even then she would revert to her old self when she was in a mood. I learned just to end the conversation when she got like this, because there was no way to make her snap out of it. After a while (anywhere from an hour to a few days) of steering clear of her, she would return to her usual fun self.

Today Claudia is 20 years old and in college, and she is still often difficult. She’s at home for the summer with our parents, and she seems to be in a mood most of the time. She’s even been difficult with me, and I am usually the one who gets along best with her. Both of my parents have separately brought up to me their frustration and annoyance with her behavior. We all figured she would grow out of this behavior, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I’m worried about Claudia. I don’t know if she has any friends at school (she never mentions anyone and we talk about everything). Still, it’s hard to talk to her when she’s so unpleasant to be around. Lately she has been staying in a bad mood longer and we haven’t been talking as much.

Is there a polite way to tell her that her behavior isn’t okay?

AngelicGamer

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2013, 03:09:07 PM »
Aria, considering her age and the fact that she's staying in these moods longer, I think bringing up (gently) that she get some medical advice is the best course of action.  College is a very stressful time for a lot of people and I wouldn't be surprised if she was having problems with that stress.  Yes, she should be able to talk with someone she trusts, but a lot of time, people just hold it in until they blow up at the people they love. 

Good luck.  :)




"Life's tough, huh?  And then you die." ~ Buck, the Magnificent Seven.

m2kbug

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2013, 04:48:30 PM »
Is everyone dancing around her mood?  Are you all not close enough that someone can't ask her what is going on that she's being so moody or that she knock it off?  I just got after my teen for that snarky little attitude.  Honestly, sometimes you can't so much as say hello without the snark.  Why not just ask her what is going on?  You've been really grumpy, sis, what's the deal?  Is everything okay at school, etc.  I agree with Angelic that the possibility of difficulties and stress in college might need some professional advice, counseling or something.  I blended well into it but some people don't.  And yes, sometimes we blow up at the safe people, the people who love us the most...a comfort and a curse. :)  I also found my parents the most annoying individuals at that age, which I think is largely normal.   :)

If you two are close, she should be receptive to what problems you are having with her and hopefully she'll share what's going on with her.  As grumpy as she is, she could at least feign pleasantness.  My sister and I were ready to scratch each other's eyes out in high school, but got closer and best friends at about 20, and she's really the only person I can really talk to about anything, so I hope your situation is similar. 

Honestly, I can see myself saying, "Geez, Claudia, what the h__ is wrong with you?  You're being so grumpy and hard to be around?"  Or "Don't talk to me that way.  Quit being so moody."  Maybe not the best approach, and a kinder tone would be better.  Snapping back...well, she's my sister.  But in any case, I'm sure you can find a window to ask her why she's upset.  Really it's about tone, but I think you just need to be blunt and ask her what's wrong.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2013, 04:50:17 PM by m2kbug »

Thipu1

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2013, 06:00:46 PM »
How far into college is Sister?

When  someone who is used to being a big fish in a little pond, gets into college and finds that she isn't all that great compared to others it isn't unusual to find a 20 year-old going back to the defensive position of a 14 year-old.  Could that be what's happening here?

I agree with the others.  Ask her.  After all, you have nothing to lose and it might help the situation.   

Promise

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2013, 10:05:45 AM »
Your parents might want to have a family meeting with expectations and consequences...and then follow through if she doesn't comply. It's their house, their rules. They should all make up a  list of expectation, including your sister (perhaps not having a curfew) and everyone have a say in the consequences. It alerts your sister to her behavior and allows discussion. If she reacts badly, it might be time for your parents to give her 30 days notice and stick to it. Too often they cave instead of following through thus continuing her enabling behavior.

lurkerwisp

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2013, 12:17:17 PM »
How far into college is Sister?

When  someone who is used to being a big fish in a little pond, gets into college and finds that she isn't all that great compared to others it isn't unusual to find a 20 year-old going back to the defensive position of a 14 year-old.  Could that be what's happening here?

I agree with the others.  Ask her.  After all, you have nothing to lose and it might help the situation.   

Or it could be kind of the opposite.  She's home for the summer and living with her parents again after being away at school and having adjusted to that level of freedom.  I remember moving back home after being at school for a year being absolute torture.  My parents expected to control my time the same way that they had while I was in highschool, and I expected to be able to take care of myself and my schedule on my own terms.  I had a job, and was in graduate school, so I didn't see why they should be making demands of me that I felt unreasonable (specifically, they set a bedtime and curfew, which was kind of absurd to do for an adult taking evening classes).

So please also be aware of how you're treating your sister.  Are you and your parents maybe still talking to her like she's an ignorant teen?  Talk to her and find out what's going on, but also make sure you're doing so as her friend and equal.  She's not a kid to speak down to anymore and shouldn't be treated like one.

It might be as simple as her missing her friends, or her classes, or just being able to spend time alone and needing that space back.  :)

StoutGirl

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2013, 12:45:56 PM »
After a couple of years of college, I became an arrogant little snot, but I changed my attitude after my parents threatened to kick me out because of it.  Maybe your parents might want to consider that tactic.

But in all seriousness, your sister might need some help or talking to.

Oh Joy

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2013, 02:22:27 PM »
My vote is that you don't get to tell her how to treat others, but you do get to decide how you'll let her treat you.

Depending on your dynamics and the specific situation that day:
- Sounds like you're not in the mood to chat, so I'll let you go.  Call me later if you want.
- Wow, sis, you sound pretty blue today.  Anything you want to talk about?
- You sure haven't seemed like yourself lately.  Can I help?  Want me to see if Mom & Dad's insurance covers talking to someone?

If she grumbles or snarks, I suggest breezily letting her go/disengaging and leaving the door open when she's ready.

Best wishes.

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2013, 05:08:13 PM »
A 20 year old arrogant co-ed snot doesn't sound that unusual to me...

However, if you feel like something is a bit amiss, go with your gut feeling and get your parents involved for a family discussion. 

Perhaps she would feel better seeing someone, I would approach it with one of the pp words/ideas.  Don't let a "feeling" go if you think it's "something".

 

snappylt

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2013, 12:42:42 AM »
My gut instinct when reading your post is to guess that your sister is likely to not want to listen to things you say that come across to her as criticism of her behavior.  (Excuse me for putting it this way, but from her perspective, who are you to criticize her?  You may be quite correct, in fact, but I'm just guessing that she's not likely to see it your way.)

If you do decide to talk with her yourself, perhaps it would be wise to wait to talk with her until she is in a good mood instead of trying to talk with her while she's having one of her bad days.

Morticia

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2013, 10:24:37 AM »
If she is taking out her bad mood on you, it is permissible to say, "It's okay for you to be in a bad mood. It is not okay for you to take it out on me." And then walk away or hang up. If people stop being her whipping boys, she will, hopefully, learn some self control. If it's a medical issue, maybe it will help her to see it if she loses her audience.
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Aria

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2013, 10:32:30 AM »
My gut instinct when reading your post is to guess that your sister is likely to not want to listen to things you say that come across to her as criticism of her behavior.  (Excuse me for putting it this way, but from her perspective, who are you to criticize her?  You may be quite correct, in fact, but I'm just guessing that she's not likely to see it your way.)

If you do decide to talk with her yourself, perhaps it would be wise to wait to talk with her until she is in a good mood instead of trying to talk with her while she's having one of her bad days.

Snappylt, this is exactly what I think. I'm afraid that if I try to broach the topic with her, even in a caring or concerned way, that she will shut down immediately, thinking she is being criticized. I was definitely thinking that it would be best to talk to her when she's in a good mood.

To answer some other questions: Claudia just finished her third year of college. Our parents are quite laid back, so the chances of them kicking her out are nil. It's extremely unlikely that they will sit her down for a family discussion, either. (I suppose they would rather just complain to me about her behavior, maybe hoping I could perform a miracle.)

TootsNYC

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2013, 10:39:00 AM »
When she's really snotty, maybe ask her, in a just-a-bit-concerned tone (light enough that it sounds more sincere), "Are you happy lately? You just seem sort of permanently disgruntled, and I'm a little worried about you. It can't be fun."

See what she says.

Sort of the tone you'd use when someone winces at the pain in their ankle, and you want to suggest that maybe they should rest it a bit.

Mikayla

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2013, 02:49:29 PM »
This almost might be two separate issues.  If your parents are expressing frustration with her, is it related to rudeness or lack of respect?  It's hard to guess without examples, but if parts of this are bad habits that never got corrected, the surface issue needs to be dealt with by them.  Stuff like contributing chores, respecting parents, etc.

I might have had small components of snotty brat 20 year old college kid home for the summer, but my parents didn't see that side.  It wouldn't have been tolerated and there was no reason for me to test that.

Your issue may be a bit more complex, because as her sister, your role is more in line with what Toots suggested.   I think your comment about her not having any friends is really telling.  In fact, my sister and I were talking about this very issue related to our younger sister last week.  We haven't figured out yet how we'll handle it, but we did agree something needs to be said.  She doesn't see how she comes across and we have to find a way to either state that outright, or ask the right question to open the dialog.

NyaChan

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2013, 02:59:02 PM »
I am pretty much my family's Claudia.  I'd like to make a suggestion - my parents did what yours did and included my sister in their parenting of me.  They complained about me behind my back to her, called on her to participate when they were lecturing me, and interfered in our interactions as well.  It ruined the relationship I had with my sister.  Even now there is a great deal of tension between us and I still feel as if I can't really trust her as it was very much them against me in previous years.  If you have a problem with the way Claudia treats you, I think you should discuss it with her separately as an issue purely between you and her.  The rest of her behavior is something your parents should address and I think it will cause harm to your relationships if you join in on it.  I would also suggest asking your parents not to draw you into their problems with Claudia.