Relatives Ruining the Holidays
Dear Annie: I need some advice on how to approach my older sister about how both she and her husband conduct themselves at family gatherings. They feel entitled to anything my parents have.
The first thing you have to know about them is that they are nearly 40 years old, yet they still act like children. They heavily rely on my parents financially and have no real drive to better themselves.
For instance, my parents own a lake house and a beach rental that my sister always seems to call dibs on whenever my parents announce they will not be using them that weekend. That by itself is not bad, but it's the way that they go about it and the way they treat other people's belongings that becomes annoying. They have literally caused thousands of dollars of damage on multiple occasions, but they never even dream of paying back my parents.
They also love claiming whole weekends as soon as they know my parents will not be there, and then they invite their other grown-up children friends to "party" and take advantage of my parents' good nature. I think this has not gone unnoticed by my parents, but they have always enabled her and keep letting her do whatever she wants.
My sister and her husband are also the cheapest people on the planet, but they have no problem spending my parents' money or taking advantage of any situation that my parents afford them. At family gatherings, they have this habit of getting sloppy drunk and making fools of themselves.
This involves both of them draining nice bottles of wine that my parents put out for everyone. My brother-in-law will take half a bottle in his glass and then joke about wanting to make sure he gets the good wine. My sister is the exact same way, and she will empty bottles so fast that my parents, or anyone else, can barely get a glass before it is gone.
I would love nothing more than to call them both out the next time they do this, but I don't want to be the one to ruin Christmas (where I know this will happen again). When facing any criticism, my sister will scream and cry like a toddler, so it has always been hard to approach her about anything she needs to change.
How would you tell someone like that to grow up and think of someone other than herself? I've talked about this with my parents and know that the whole situation annoys them, too, but they still enable her and allow her to act the way she does. -- Fed-Up Younger Brother
Dear Younger Brother: Wow, it is very understandable that you are fed up with your sister and brother-in-law. To say their behavior is childish, selfish and rude is an understatement. But in order for the behavior to change, the real people who have to get truly fed up are your parents. It is their wine and their lake and beach house that your sister and brother-in-law are taking advantage of. Maybe you need to have a family meeting or some sort of an intervention.
Getting sloppy drunk and taking advantage of your parents in their 40s can't do much for their self-esteem. My guess is that, deep down, your sister and brother-in-law are probably not very happy and probably need some help instead of judgement about all of their terrible behaviors.
Think of your family as a team that needs to work together, and two of your teammates are really hurting the rest of the team through their self-destructive actions.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.