Give it back, you little #@#$%!
I’ve grew up with two older brothers. I’ve still got ‘em (which is a good thing) though obviously we don’t live together any more. And while the three of us are good friends now, I’d be totally lying if I said that when we were kids we always treated each other with kindness and respect. Not even close! There was a lot of arguing and fighting amongst us. Sometimes it got really loud and physical. Being the youngest and the only girl (and a very emotional one at that) I often felt angry and frustrated because Brother #2, The Master Tease, could instantly make me cry at any time. I hated that he was so good at pushing my buttons!
Thankfully we outgrew whatever nuttiness caused us to treat each other that way. So if you’re having problems with an annoying, bossy, mean or insulting brother or sister there’s hope that in the future things between you will be better.
But what can you do now if you and your sibling don’t get along with? That’s pretty much the email question I got today from this teen:
My older sister is very mean to me and I wonder why. She has ignored me so many times or mumbled something about me under her breathe. Once she threatened to push me down the steps. And when I sit beside her, she slides farther away from me. I don’t know why she treats me like this. I don’t even do ANYTHING mean or wrong to her! I would admit it if I did because that’s just how mature I am. I mean, she can treat me like this for the rest of our lives because I don’t care. I’m not close to her anymore. What is her problem with me? Why does she treat me this way?
Fed Up with Her
Dear Fed Up,
Your sister is the only one who can answer your question “Why do you treat me this way?” Have you thought of asking her? I want to warn you about a couple of things before you have this conversation…
Choose the where and when of this conversation wisely…
If your sister is with a friend or in the middle of something that’s taking all her attention or if she’s in a bad mood, that would NOT be a great time to have this kind of talk with her. My advice here would be to find a time when the two of you have some privacy and things between you are relatively calm. So, be smart when you pick the time and place.
Choose your tone of voice and your attitude wisely. If you come into a conversation in attack mode: “Why do you ALWAYS act so mean to me?!” “How come you’re NEVER nice to me?!” that’s going to put her on the defensive. And you two will probably not have a good conversation. Instead, stay calm, be respectful, and be honest about your feelings. You might say something like this, “You know, I was just thinking about the good times we used to have together… when we were younger. We always got along and I really loved having you as my big sister. And then, it’s like something changed but I’m not sure what. Have you felt that too? “
Then CLOSE your mouth and LISTEN to what she has to say. Don’t interrupt her. Don’t correct anything she says. Just be there and listen.
You see, this isn’t just about “Why does she treat me this way?” That would only concern her behavior. The real question you want the answer to is: “How did the two of us let our close relationship get to this point?” Both of you contributed to the slippage. The good news is that when you get that every relationship is a 2-way street then you can see that both people have a contribution to make in keeping it healthy.
You took the first step by writing to me. That was really honest and brave. Now the next step is for you to talk with your sister in the calm, private and respectful way I’ve suggested. Good luck!
It’s not realistic to think that brothers and sisters are going to get along all the time. That’s just not going to happen! But more peace and less fighting is a reasonable goal. What have you tried so far to make the peace with your sibling(s)? If you haven’t tried anything what’s stopping you from trying? If you’ve made an effort, what has worked? What hasn’t worked? Post your comments here.