Sunday 26 January 2020

Dear Mary: Know-it-all older sister is driving my family crazy

Picture posed by model
Picture posed by model

Mary O'Connor

Q: My sister is driving me crazy. Everything her adult children do is right and everything my adult children do is wrong. This is despite the fact that all of her children have been in trouble with the law and mine never have. They all think they are above the law and can tell everyone else how to live their lives. They think everyone else is a crook but the biggest crooks in town are them.

Things have come to a head over the submissions to the Citizens Assembly. She tried to get me and my family to submit anti-abortion letters to the assembly. I told her I was pro-choice. She went mad, calling me and my family all sorts and accusing us of all sorts of criminality.

She has accused one of my sons of being involved in pornography. He has gone to his solicitor about this as he is not going to stand for these false allegations. I am worried the whole thing is going to get out of control and someone is going to get hurt because she is just getting worse and worse.

This woman is relentless in her accusations about people, cutting down the well-deserved reputations of honest people.

I think at this stage she must have a psychological disorder because her behaviour is far from normal.

She is older than me and has always dominated me - even ordering what subjects and levels my children should be doing for the Leaving Cert.

Is my sister mentally unstable? What do I do to stop her from destroying our lives?

A You haven't told me if you have always given in to your sister and done what she told you to. But even if she is used to getting her own way you will have to tell her that the accusations against your son have forced you to take a stand. It is a very serious thing to take away somebody's good name, and he was right to seek legal advice. Just tell her that you are standing firmly behind your son and that you are all very hurt at her accusations.

I couldn't possibly say if your sister is mentally unbalanced, but you have to protect your own peace of mind and indeed that of your children. You can't undo what has gone before but you can change how you react to her.

Next time she suggests you do something her way be very firm in telling her that everybody is entitled to their opinion, but that yours does not coincide with hers.

Refuse to back down. If she is on the telephone tell her there is somebody at the door and hang up. She may not get the message, but at least you will feel that you are doing the best you can to change things.

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