Life Advice



Ask Amy: Boundary-building feels like control

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: When do boundaries become a form of controlling?

Last summer, my sister's husband died by suicide.

At her request, my parents and I helped with huge tasks through the blurry first weeks. Then, gradually, she reduced contact with us.

Calls and texting were fine, and typical boundaries seemed to be respected.

Then last week my sister mailed my parents a letter, saying that they could only use postal mail to contact her. (They had been sending short emails and texts of generic updates.)

My parents are in their 80s and at a loss. She seems to be blaming our parents for everything, but with communication so prescribed there doesn't seem to be a way to move forward.


She also stopped responding to me, and I am hurt but feel like I can wait this out.

I sent a birthday card and some bland notes to her.

I did tell my mom that at least she didn't cut off all communication, so that's good.

My sister also communicates with my older son (who lives in another country), which is what led my therapist to say that maybe this is how she is communicating.


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