Our oldest sister, X, has always been very bossy. My other sister, Y, would get pushed around, but I’d stand up to X.
Now, all late-50s, we live in three different countries. X is the only one still single. Y still lives near our mom, who’s almost 90.
She finally moved to a retirement apartment. X and I returned home for months to help Mom move.
X was very difficult – constantly bombarding us with loud music, scanning every childhood Christmas card, primary school report card, etc. into her laptop.
Despite having the highest education among us, she’s very superstitious. Moving, or selling the house, etc. had to be done on certain dates only.
While Y and I are very conservative with investing, X is a gambler and a speculator.
She was constantly trying to push her misguided health beliefs, pyramid schemes and risky investment choices on us.
She reads technical stuff, takes things out of context, and gets obsessed and paranoid about them.
She’s very lonely inside. When she accused me of alienating our siblinghood, I took a reconciling approach, and said it must’ve been a misunderstanding.
She remained hostile. She’s argumentative and confrontational on everything big and small.
She’s also careless and irresponsible with bills, tax obligations, and finances. She leaves everything to the last minute.
Y and I dread talking to her on the phone because if we’re not arguing, she’s preaching about risky investments or alternative medicine or therapy.
I don’t know if her behaviour’s just a personality thing, or is caused by a mental condition. If we were to suggest that she seek professional help, she’d say I’m the one who needs it.
What can we do to help her?
Until she wants help, or is in a state when it’s a necessity, there’s little you can do beyond trying to keep the peace.
She lives alone in a different country from you and your other sister, and is committed to her own beliefs.
If you start pressing her to get help, she’ll end contact with you.
Instead, stay in touch, ask how she’s doing, and if she opens the door to further conversation about her health and welfare, follow-up gently.
Meanwhile, suggest that in case of any emergency where you can’t reach her, it’d be wise for her to give you contacts for someone close (friend, colleague, neighbour).
My son, 22, lives with his dad and has his own son, age two-and-a-half. He babysits him and doesn’t work.
The boy’s mother and my son aren’t together.
My son was previously involved with the law - just “break and enter” or mischief stuff. He dropped out of high school.
We grandparents have to help financially with the grandchild. I’m just so disappointed with this boy. I know he also smokes. I need advice.
No Hope for My Son
I urge you to focus where there can be the most hope – on your grandson.
He needs love above all, but also some early childhood stimulation – e.g. through age-appropriate toys, books and music.
A half-day daycare program may also be important by providing the company of other children.
If you and his grandfather can help provide that, and also babysit other times, your son could seek training towards another job.
Ask whether the court system in his area provides a training program for past-offenders.
Encourage him that he can do better, but not by saying how disappointed you are.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who complained about his “sexless marriage” (June 7):
Reader – “The man wrote that his wife would like to lie together, likely as a base for intimacy.
“It may not lead to sex but I also wouldn’t want to have sex with someone who “spitefully refuses.”
“He very clearly only wants sex from her.
“They’re both part of the problem and need to both be part of the solution.
“Maybe he needs to accept some blame himself before she’ll be ready to work (it out).
“If paying for sex seems a better option to him than lying next to his wife, maybe it’s time he leaves. Good riddance.”
Ellie – This question has led to many reader responses ranging from sympathy for the man, to outrage from women.
While I have difficulty with either relationship partner arbitrarily shutting down sex without explanation, a medical check-up or counselling, this man’s attitude was also offensive.
Tip of the day:
Adult siblings with difficult personalities since childhood are unlikely to change, but may need help eventually. Keep contact.