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Ask Amy: Sibling rivalry buffets sib in the middle

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My brother and sister live very close to one another in our hometown.

Until recently, I lived in another state — 2,000 miles away. As siblings, we’ve always been very close.

I recently lost my husband, and after his death I decided to move back home.

My sister tells me that my brother talks behind my back, and my brother tells me that my sister talks behind my back.

This is grade school garbage.

I love them both and I don’t know who to believe.

They no longer talk to one another, and I feel like I’m in the middle.

They can’t even be in the same room together. I don’t know what to do.

Please help!

– Stuck in the Middle

Dear Stuck: Your experience reminds me of being trapped between my two (occasionally) warring sisters in the back of our mother’s Plymouth Duster.

It was an occasionally tough experience, but great training for two professions: Line judge at Wimbledon, or what I do now, which is listening, watching, and – when invited — weighing in.

Start with this: Do not believe either sibling’s account of the other sibling’s behavior.

For instance, if they aren’t talking to one another, then how do they know that the other sibling is trash-talking you behind your back?

You have the right to draw and enforce boundaries. If you don’t mind listening sympathetically to one sibling vent about the other, then go ahead and passively engage. Understand, however, that these two may use your allegiance as a spoil in their private war, which will affect your ability to have a relationship with either one.

You do not need to mediate or solve anything for them. You DO need to tell the truth to both about how their behavior makes you feel: “I moved across the continent to be closer to you both. I hope you will find a way to mend fences, because life is short, and I will not choose between you. Currently, however, I find you both very annoying.”

 

Dear Amy: My husband and I are longtime friends with a couple who recently received their COVID vaccine. Though they are in their mid-40s (I'm 60 and my husband is 58), they were able to get the vaccine because they are teachers. They have both been teaching occasionally online for the last year (as have I), and none of us plans to enter an actual classroom any time soon.

In our state, we qualify for the vaccine at age 65, or if we have pre-existing conditions. Our friends, my husband, and I are all healthy adults.

When I asked the wife how she was able to get vaccinated, she informed me that I could get a vaccine, too, if I could provide evidence that I am a teacher. I was shocked. Of course, I could do that, but full-time teachers in my state will be returning to classrooms soon, and I feel that taking a vaccine away from one of them (or a senior citizen!) is just plain wrong.

To make it worse, they have bragged about being vaccinated on social media.

I don't know what to say to this couple.

– Stumped in California

Dear Stumped: These people slid through a loophole of sorts, and while what they did might be technically allowable, it is deceptive and unethical, and, if they are educators, they know it. All the same, they may believe they have valid reasons to justify their choice (the need to step up and care for aging parents, for instance).

It isn’t necessary to say anything to them. If they wonder why you are being silent, you can tell them, “I’m disappointed by your decision to place yourself ahead of classroom teachers and others in order to get vaccinated. I don’t enjoy passing judgment on you, but from where I sit, it just seems wrong.”

Dear Amy: Responding to your column featuring questions from people who were grossed out by the kitchen habits of relatives, I worked 50 years internationally with food, certified in HACCP (Hazardous Analysis of Critical Control Points), a food safety process developed by Pillsbury in the 1960’s for NASA.

Food safety is of the utmost importance in my book. My dad was a chef and taught me when I was a kid: “If it is hot, keep it hot, if it is cold, keep it cold, and always wash your hands.”

– A Reader in Las Vegas

Dear Reader: Your father’s wisdom is certified fresh!

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(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

 

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