I’m the middle child. My older sister had financial issues and moved in with my younger sister (both unmarried).
All was well. They decided to get a dog.
Several years later, “older sister” has moved in with her boyfriend. The sisters worked out a “custody” agreement for the dogs (now two of them).
Then, older sister suddenly decided that one dog wasn’t coping well when at younger sister’s home (she also has several cats).
When “younger sister” went to pick up the dog, she was denied him. A nasty fight erupted, and older sister’s boyfriend got involved.
At a next-day veterinary appointment for the held-back dog, which “younger” knew about, she showed up at the vet and took the dog from her sister.
Another yelling match. Older sister called the police, falsely claiming her sister assaulted her.
She also called animal welfare authorities, accusing her of animal abuse and housing too many pets (not true, and potentially harmful to younger sister’s job status).
She’s cut contact with older sister.
I’ve told both that they screwed up big and suggested counselling to get beyond this incident, to no avail.
Our terminally ill father’s terribly upset. I feel both are watching to see who’s side I’m taking (neither).
How can I get them to meet/decide a peaceful resolution to bring harmony back to our family?
Middle of a Mess
This ugly split was more about self-serving siblings than their pets.
They’ve ignored their father’s severe illness - this, during a pandemic dangerous to frail seniors!
Declare that you fault them both for dividing your family when their father needs everyone’s care and comfort.
Take charge. Insist that they each talk separately to a family counsellor. The goal: A sane resolution (not a two-against-one approach that includes one side’s boyfriend).
It’ll expose how stubborn and childish they’re behaving at a time when family life for all three sisters is facing a sad loss.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the married daughter with children who’s “lost” to her parents and tightly aligned with her cold, conspiracy-theorist husband (October 31):
Reader – “The daughter’s completely trusting this man who’s actually “stolen” her identity. He’s determined to isolate her.
“It happened to me. I met this man who seemed so nice, also with my daughter. He stole my life, completely destroyed me in everyone else’s eyes.
“He’s isolated me from his family, my children, and tried to do similarly with my friends/family.
“He contacted all my friends, saying that I had Munchausen syndrome, and other lies.
“When friends reported this, he said: “Now you’ll be completely isolated.”
“It took me years to realize what was wrong! He was very intelligent, a champion at manipulative lying. This was in 2010.
“I’ve since read many books about Narcissism and learned how to manage this horrible situation, to be a little less unhappy.
“He died last spring. My identity is still destroyed. I said once when he was particularly nasty to me, “I wish your friends could see who you really are.”
“He answered,” Nobody will ever believe you. “
“My children don’t accept that he was this horrible person.
“I have no idea how to recuperate my own identity.
“Maybe the letter-writer could find some help from reading all those books.
“Maybe she could very gently, whenever her daughter allows it, open her eyes.
“Example: If the husband continuously misplaces her car key and she complains, her mother could say, “You’re right, it’s disrespectful, I feel for you.” Planting a seed.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who was ghosted permanently by her boyfriend after a seven-month close relationship (November 7):
Reader – “As a registered psychotherapist, I usually find your advice to others helpful and insightful. Today, too, I agree with most of what you suggested to this writer.
“When someone’s still profoundly impacted by an event from six years ago, she obviously cannot deal with it herself. Long-lasting emotional impacts/feelings don’t resolve with well-meaning logic.
“You did tell her to seek therapy if she cannot resolve this on her own.
“However, she might’ve thought this meant she should’ve been able to see/resolve this logically. That could place "guilt" on her.
“Everyone does not need psychotherapy for every trauma or painful event.
“However, when it’s been impacting their life for many years, the best and fastest way to release themselves from it is to seek professional support.”
Tip of the day:
When embattled siblings refuse peace-making, show them emotional/health effects on other family members.