Love the site – and all the great advice you’ve given out over the last few months! Now I wonder if you could help me…
My sister Carly has always been competitive – but now that we’ve both got kids she’s taken it to a whole other level.
Every time she comes to visit Carly is also bragging about her children – how well they’re doing in school, how many friends they have, how popular they are… and it’s really starting to drive me crazy. Plus she subtly makes digs at my own kids – and criticizes the way my husband and myself are raising them.
I’ve tried to talk to my sister about her attitude – but Carly gets really defensive and says I’m being over-sensitive. The thing is I know her kids are far from perfect (her daughter got a detention just the other day) – and would love to use this information against her – but my husband says I’d just be stooping to her level.
What can I do Rene… I’m so sick and tired of my snobby sister… Please help…
I was just talking to my daughter, Casey the other day and the topic of conversation was about how some people never get out of high school; egotistical children become egotistical adults. She looked at me like I was crazy, but it’s true; some people never grow up. You can go ahead and add your sister Carly to that category.
The crazy part is that while she would like you to think that you are chasing her, it’s quite the other way around. You mentioned that Carly has always been competitive, have you ever wondered why that is? Not that it matters; I doubt you could do anything about it as this is very definitely her issue, not yours. The trick is to figure out how to deal with her and her imaginary competition. Here’s what I would suggest:
1. IGNORE THE BEHAVIOR YOU WANT TO EXTINGUISH: This works with pets, kids, spouses, and the guy who runs the corner store. People do what they do because they get some sort of reward for the behavior. Whether negative or positive, attention is what they crave. Your sister is no different. One of the reasons she does this is because she gets a rise out of you. Time to deprive her of that.
2. NO MORE TALKING TO HER ABOUT THIS: This is actually one of those matters that, when said aloud, sounds so ridiculous you cannot believe you’re actually wasting your breath on it. That does not mean that it’s not just coursing beneath the surface of civility and that is what I believe to be the case here. For whatever reason, your sister is very envious of you, what you have and what you have accomplished. The only way she can make herself feel better is by putting you down.
3. NO TIT FOR TAT: Your husband is absolutely correct about this; if you tell her that her own daughter is screwing up in school (which she already knows, trust me) you are doing nothing but stooping to her level. Your relationship will then become a game of one-upmanship with hurt feelings as the collateral damage. It’s not worth it. Leave Carly to play the game by herself, with no reward (i.e. attention) it’s no fun and she will ultimately quit. Even if she doesn’t and she persists with her juvenile behavior, it won’t matter, as you will have moved on. Adopting that attitude is going to make her crazy (not that that’s the goal) and save your sanity in the process.
Carla’s got some growing up to do and she will have to do that on her own. But you are far too mature and quite frankly, busy with your own family, to try to figure out her issues. I know it’s hard when it’s people close to us but sometimes we have to give them as my husband says “ a good dose of the leave-‘em-alones.” Ignore her snide remarks and put a little space between you until she learns to play nice.
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