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Ask Amy: Sister wonders how to fix flawed sibling

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

I would not use the terminology your therapist used, but I do agree with the thinking behind it.

It is natural for you to want to take care of your younger sister. You probably absorbed this very basic lesson in childhood. This is both the joy and the burden of your birth order.

However, your sister is not asking to be taken care of. She is not asking to be “fixed.” And you not only want to try to fix her, but you’d also like to control her reaction to your efforts.

She likely believes that if the rest of the world would only line up and play fair with her, then she would receive the credit and stability she believes she deserves.

However, if she currently enjoys a stable and positive home life, then she is a success along the most important metric by which human beings can be measured. Her partner is a nice guy who presumably loves her, her daughter is growing, and she has a caring older sister who is in her life. She is likely crafty and resourceful in that she lands on her feet after every failure. All good!

If your sister ever asks you for your perspective, you should offer it.

 

Until that day, you should relax into your big sister role and accept your flawed but scrappy younger sister, just as she is.

Dear Amy: Sometimes, when my husband and I fight, it's because I've been clumsy and done or said something impolite.

He responds in kind, and then insists on an apology, which I give.

But when I ask him to apologize for his unkind reaction to my behavior, he says, "You started it, so I don't need to apologize."

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