women arguing

Ask Rene:
My Sister Is Too Competitive! I’m Sick Of It!

 

Hi Rene,

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…

Thanks,

Alice in Ohio

 

 

Hi Alice:

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:

 

3. No Tit For Tat

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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.

Good Luck!

Rene

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(Editor's Note: This piece ran in its original format on 10/18/2010)