Rude Girl writes:
Every year for my mother’s birthday, the family gets together to make a big meal. We usually have to work with one of my sister’s schedules the most because she’s a very busy person. This year, though, she was extremely rude. She didn’t actually come to help, just to remind us every 15 minutes that she had to leave soon. She ate most of the (undercooked) steak before any of us got to sit down and actually have the meal.
I am livid and though my parents are okay with/used to this behavior, I don’t even want to talk to her anymore. Any admiration I had for her is gone. What should I do to get past this?
Heya, Rude Girl.
Well, you’ve made yourself the hero and your sister the villain of your story, so I don’t know how you get through this other than accepting that you have resentments you’re not willing to discuss with her. As my therapist likes to say, “Relationships are ninety percent conversation.”
Or something like that. I tend to tune out when she’s not talking directly at me.
I don’t think this was the first time she’s been rude, but this seems to be the tipping point for you which means lots of little things have festered into a great big YouTube video of a cyst needing to get drained before you feel comfortable again. You say you admire her work ethic but you don’t say you admire much else about her, and that’s a little alarming.
You’re not completely at fault, but I will say you can’t use the high road as a way to throw words into your sister’s face. You can’t correct her behavior like you would a dog’s. People are more like cats, and Jackson Galaxy has taught me that you can’t just tell them no and lock them in a bathroom for 20 minutes and expect them to change.
I guess the question is: Are you willing to have a conversation where you don’t just vent your frustration but actually listen? Or are you only willing to have a conversation where your sister feels appropriate shame? Because those are two different conversations. Those conversations will affect both you personally and your relationship with your sister for the rest of your natural born lives.
All I have to say is, thank God I’m an only child because I wouldn’t want to have to choose. This conversation will make all the cringe inducing moments on Modern Family look positively picturesque.
Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru
Freedom is Not Free writes:
I recently moved home after graduating from college. I was living in another state but couldn’t get a job in my field, and I thought this would be an ideal situation. My parents loved it when I came home every three months to visit and would always invite me to stay for longer periods.
Long story short, this is a nightmare now. We started with some ground rules that I thought we all agreed to, but one night I stayed over at an old friend’s house and they flipped out on me when I came home the next day. My dad tried to confiscate my phone.
I’m trying to reconnect and restart my life so I can’t exactly move out after having just come back (I have some friends but it’s like meeting people all over again). I’m over 21, not a 15-year-old girl anymore. How do I approach my parents without burning bridges?
Heya, Freedom is Not Free.
You drove down to see your parents once every three months? Whoa. That’s commitment to the family dynamic. Now, I don’t know the cultural makeup of your family, but I’m willing to bet a dollar to a donut that it’s probably not too invested in that mythic pioneer spirit of old-school America. Your family is probably maddeningly close and sees a lot of each other between October and January.
I would be exhausted if I were you.
Mainly because I like space.
I wish I could tell you that it will get easier and you’ll find something in your field (whatever that is) and that your parents will stop acting foolish, but I think we both know that would be a foolhardy sentiment. We both know your parents are freaked out about you getting pregnant as a young single woman (I’m assuming). The rules, the curfew, the detailed planned out map of your life: Though they are dancing around the issue, their hearts are begging not to find out one day that you have a bun in the oven.
Like all parents from the dawn of time, this worry has translated into hovering. Helicopter parenting is not a new phenomenon, we’ve just got a term for it now. And your parents have trapped you in their house. Especially if they’re paying your bills, they have a right to take your phone and see how much electricity you use and set chores.
Taking their offer was a double-edged sword and you’re now falling on it.
There’s no easy out. You move out and you lose that security. You stay and you end up 15 years old again, maybe perpetually. Maybe until the day they pass and beyond.
Why is it so important to you to be successful in your chosen field? Why can’t you just work so you can move out and then figure it out from there? Give yourself a bit of personal security first. I know it’s hard to find work, but maybe you need to give yourself a deadline. Give yourself an excuse to be poor within the state or even move back across state lines. I can’t tell you what’s right for you, I can only tell you that no conversation is going to go well because you can’t trust what your parents say anymore.
And that sucks.
Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru