Author Topic: Difficult Sister  (Read 6776 times)

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Lexophile

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2013, 06:46:34 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.  :)

POD. My parents kept their imposed curfew on me until I was past Sophomore year. She may be having a hard time being back under their roof.
"Submission to what people call their 'lot' is simply ignoble. If your lot makes you cry and be wretched, get rid of it and take another." - Elizabeth von Arnim

wyliefool

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2013, 12:43:16 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.

This. My parents like to complain to me, not about my brother, but about each other. "Your father did...' 'Your mother does...' It took me 20 years, but I've finally learned to say 'Why are you telling me this? You guys are old enuf to work this out among yourselves.'

Hasn't eliminated the problem, but has decreased it somewhat and reduced my stress, because now when my mom comes banging on the bedroom door yelling 'your father is chasing the cat around the yard in his slippers! you have to tell him not to do that!'  ::) I know that in fact I don't have to do any such thing. He's 70yo, for crying out loud. He wants to run around outside in his slippers, who am I to argue?

Anyhoo. I suggest 'Why not talk to Sis instead of telling me about this? You're all adults. I can't sort this out for you.' and then get off the phone.

bah12

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2013, 03:44:19 PM »
I think you could consider that Claudia's mood at home and her mood at college may not necessarily be equal.  Like others have mentioned, family dynamics vs freedom away from that dynamic can affect mood tremendously.  Also the behavior you describe is typical of teenagers and young adults (not all, but many).  Claudia is maturing, yes, but she's still very young.  Going to college isn't going to automatically make her act like a mature adult.  This doesn't justify her behavior, but it may help you understand it. 

If I were Claudia, I would not appreciate my parents complaining about me to my siblings (and it would likely show in my attitude).  I think it's one thing for a parent to go to a sibling and say "I'm concerned for Claudia and she isn't opening up to me.  Has she spoken to you about anything?  Is she ok?" and another entirely to go "I'm really frustrated with Claudia's attitude.  I don't like her moods and she needs to snap out of it."

Like others have mentioned, your sphere of influence is really only as far as how Claudia treats you and I think it's ok to address that with her.  Use words like "It hurts me when" or "I feel like this when you say/do that".  I would not say what your parents have shared nor would I go into the conversation assuming that she's the same way at school and has no friends.  You can ask her about school and the people that she hangs out with there...as a sister, I think it's a perfectly reasonable converation to have with her.  From that, you can guage whether or not this is a systemic attitude problem with her in general, or just the way she is at home (and then maybe try to explore what the dynamic that is causing that is...if it's just a function of her age and this awkward young but grown up stage or something that should be addressed with the family).

Aria

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2013, 01:11:25 PM »
This weekend Claudia and I are going on a day trip. I think at some point I'm going to try to talk to her about how she's been acting lately. My plan is to say something along the lines of Toots' wording.

One other thing: I don't know if Claudia knows that our parents complain about her to me. They only ever do it when we're alone.

blue2000

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #19 on: May 24, 2013, 05:57:08 AM »
This weekend Claudia and I are going on a day trip. I think at some point I'm going to try to talk to her about how she's been acting lately. My plan is to say something along the lines of Toots' wording.

One other thing: I don't know if Claudia knows that our parents complain about her to me. They only ever do it when we're alone.

She probably does. I know my mother complains about me to my brothers and she's never done it in front of me. She also complains about them to me. Either one is annoying. I also am very careful about mentioning any friends to them as this just gives them more to comment on. ::sigh::

Claudia may be more grumpy than usual because she's not happy about this, and isn't quite mature enough to know how to (politely) tell them to shut it.
You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.

Lynn2000

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Re: Difficult Sister
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2013, 06:04:15 PM »
I think you could consider that Claudia's mood at home and her mood at college may not necessarily be equal.  Like others have mentioned, family dynamics vs freedom away from that dynamic can affect mood tremendously.  Also the behavior you describe is typical of teenagers and young adults (not all, but many).  Claudia is maturing, yes, but she's still very young.  Going to college isn't going to automatically make her act like a mature adult.  This doesn't justify her behavior, but it may help you understand it. 

If I were Claudia, I would not appreciate my parents complaining about me to my siblings (and it would likely show in my attitude).  I think it's one thing for a parent to go to a sibling and say "I'm concerned for Claudia and she isn't opening up to me.  Has she spoken to you about anything?  Is she ok?" and another entirely to go "I'm really frustrated with Claudia's attitude.  I don't like her moods and she needs to snap out of it."

Like others have mentioned, your sphere of influence is really only as far as how Claudia treats you and I think it's ok to address that with her.  Use words like "It hurts me when" or "I feel like this when you say/do that".  I would not say what your parents have shared nor would I go into the conversation assuming that she's the same way at school and has no friends.  You can ask her about school and the people that she hangs out with there...as a sister, I think it's a perfectly reasonable converation to have with her.  From that, you can guage whether or not this is a systemic attitude problem with her in general, or just the way she is at home (and then maybe try to explore what the dynamic that is causing that is...if it's just a function of her age and this awkward young but grown up stage or something that should be addressed with the family).

POD to this. Without specific examples I'm having trouble coming up with wording suggestions, but certainly if she says or does something that hurts your feelings, there's no need to hide that from her, or to keep up the interaction. "It seems like you're not in a good mood right now, maybe we can continue this game later," or "It seems like you aren't really having much fun here, maybe we should just go home," or "What you just said offended me, I'm going to hang out by myself for a little while," or something like that. It's good to practice these things beforehand, because (at least for ME) it's really tough to say them without adding a snarky spin, which doesn't help the situation.

And then at some point when things seem calm, you could ask her about her overall feelings. "You know, lately you've seemed really down and negative. Is there something that's stressing you out?"

To me her behavior as described doesn't sound that strange, for someone in her general situation. 20 is a tough transitional time--not a teenager anymore, but still quite young; possibly still dependent on parents financially, but used to being independent in behavior when away at school; possibly realizing that the goals you had when you were a senior in high school signing up for college are not the same goals you have now.

I supervise undergrads at work who are right around her age, and a large percentage of them end up changing their majors halfway through school, or at least changing focus from one area to another. This can necessitate a lot of stressful changes, both for themselves and for their parents (like staying at school an extra year to catch up on now-required classes = more money from parents for tuition). That would be the first thing I'd suspect with Claudia (barring other info)--maybe she's suddenly realizing that she doesn't really like what she's spent the last three years studying, and is brooding about what to do about it.
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