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Baby Sister and the Baby

Apr14

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smackdown_brat_sister.jpgOh wise and lovely Amalah,

I have a dilemma and need an objective opinion. Let’s start with the back story. I am almost 27, hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education although I am currently going back to school to finish the prereqs to get into a Physician Assistant program, I am the oldest of 3 girls, and am a single mom to a 10 month old son. All of these things separately are GREAT! The problem lies with my youngest sister. When I found out I was pregnant, (SURPRISE!!), I moved back home to live with my mom. This has been working out nicely both for support and finances. My sister was a senior in high school (8 yr. age gap), and made no secret about the fact that she was less than thrilled about having a nephew. She did not support the fact that I was going to raise him alone, as she worried about my finances and what not. He was born 5 days before she graduated from HS and we did EVERYTHING in our power to be at the celebration and make it about her, not the baby. Still, something is not right with our relationship since. I had an emergency C-section and wasn’t prepared to not be able to do stairs or drive for 2 weeks before we came home. All of the bedrooms are on the 2nd floor, so my son and I camped out on the couch in the living room with the bassinet. She is a NEAT FREAK and would make consistent comments about when we got to move back upstairs. I was kind of a mess for the first few weeks, what with HORMONES, breastfeeding not working, OMG I have a baby, pumping exclusively, OMG I have a baby, single parent, OMG!! All of this has settled down now and things are as normal as they get. On my end.

Here’s the tricky part to all of this. I’m not sure if it’s because she is the baby, or because she got the worst end of the deal when our parents got divorced, or what, but it seems that everyone in our household is afraid of disrupting her routine. Everyone does what she wants to spare ourselves her wrath. I KNOW! We created this monster!

She makes rude comments about my parenting, gets bent out of shape if the baby cries when we are in public, doesn’t support my efforts to cloth diaper, etc, etc, etc. I pump in the living room because, GOD FORBID, I spend more time attached to the pump than I do anything else and would like to be able to watch TV or something. This makes her bonkers. She treats it as this horribly offensive thing that should be done in some dark corner.

I have a hearty appetite with the pumping and she says degrading things about how much I’m eating. Keep in mind I have lost all of the baby weight, plus 40 lbs. I haven’t been this size since Jr. High. YAY!!

I mentioned to her at Christmas time how sometimes she needs to think about what she is saying as it hurts feelings. Things have been great while she is away at college. But as soon as she comes home, it all hits the fan again.

Here is the latest. We have a 3 bedroom house. My mom has a room, my sister has a room, and my son and I shared a room when he was tiny. This was fine. My sister has the biggest bedroom in the house. It goes unused 8 months of the year. I asked if I could sleep in the extra bed in her room so that my son and I didn’t have to share. I wasn’t asking to move any furniture, clothing, take up closet or drawer space. Just sleep in a bed. She said no. It was her space and she would like it to stay that way. 2nd case: My son has food allergies, so we are both limited in what we can eat and where we can eat out. We had made a plan earlier in the week to go to dinner on Tuesday. When my sister and mom got home from work, they asked if we could eat anything at one particular restaurant. I said no, that was the one place in town that we can’t go. I asked if we could go somewhere else. My sister really wanted this place, so she and my mom went there and left me and my son at home to eat alone.

Wow, this is really long. And I have yet to ask my question. Ok. All this being said, am I blowing things out of proportion? Being excessively emotional? Expecting too much from her? I dealt with Christmas break, but we are only a few days into the week of her being home on spring break and I’m already pulling my hair out. I am DREADING summer. What do I do?

Thank you, thank you, thank you,
Fed up Sister

I shall just lead off with what we’re all probably thinking: Wow. Your sister is a tremendous brat. No, I don’t think you’re blowing things out of proportion (if they are indeed happening as you described, and why would an email lie to a person?), or being overly emotional and NO, I don’t think you’re expecting too much from her. She’s…how old now? 19? 20? No longer in high school and off attending college and working? She’s not a child, she’s an adult. And a really big part of being a functional adult is realizing that the world does not revolve around you. Sounds like she’s missed that memo.

(Disclaimer: I am probably the WORST person to bring woe-is-me late high school/early college stories to, as I was married at 20 years old. My opinions always seem to fall along the lines of Grow up! Sack up! Etc.!)

(But don’t get married at 20.)

It sounds you need to have a really long talk with your mom about your sister’s selfishness and get her to agree that it’s high time everybody STOP walking on eggshells around her and catering to her me-me-me-me whims. Like choosing exclusionary restaurants and declaring her bed off-limits. You can’t force her to be polite in day to day conversations (though sounds like you could probably call her on it a bit more), but you and mom can and should stop letting her rule the majority through minority rule.

(I would also just totally sleep in her room and just change the sheets back before she came home or something. Hypothetically. I’m the youngest of SEVEN. [Also with a significant age gap, so I was more or less an only child as a teenager.] And I…uh…would never have gotten away with that kind of crap, and grew up pretty used to having my preshus snowflake speshalness trampled on a regular basis. My parents also moved my freshman year and I lost “my” room and you know what? I survived. Somehow!)

Yes, divorce is a really hard thing for kids to go through. Yes, her high school graduation got overshadowed by the birth of a child and it’s certainly not unusual for a girl her age to view things like birth and babies and diapers and breastfeeding with overwhelming disgust. (On the plus side, you are probably serving as fantastic birth control for her.) Yes, she’s entitled to have opinions about your life choices and resent inconveniences and disruptions — we all do! — but that still doesn’t give her carte blanche to be rude and selfish and hurt feelings and well…act like a total brat. You guys are coddling her out of…guilt? Because you guys maybe viewed her as “the baby” for a bit too long? This has to stop, for your sanity and her sake, because ooooohmygod, is she in for a rude awakening out in the real world. Stop padding the nest, so to speak.

And that can be as simple as saying, “Dude. Shut up.” the next time she rudely comments on your appetite or the baby crying or anything else. Talk to your mom about all of this too, so you’ll have an ally the next time she pitches a fit about restaurant choices or whatever she’s doing to purposely exclude you and your son. You guys are sisters, but you’ve got to figure out how to work as roommates, and it seems like your mom needs to be a part of the new House Rules. (Rule #1: Don’t be an asshole.)

And finally: This very well could just be a phase. Her relationship with you and her nephew may naturally improve as he gets older and she can see him as more of a person and not just a messy blob of high-maintenance inconvenience who stole her place as “the baby.” She’s at a tough point in early adulthood and plenty of people her age have a lot of difficulty letting go of certain trappings of childhood — namely, getting your own way and being the center of your family’s attention and your rooooooom and all of that. But the end result, for all of us, is the same: YOU HAVE TO LET GO OF THESE THINGS.
Good luck. (And let us know who caves and gets their own apartment first.)

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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37 Responses to “Baby Sister and the Baby”

  1. christina Apr 14 at 11:35 am Reply Reply

    Wow…Um, yeah. Brat city. I agree: Call her out, get your mom on the same page, and try not to take it all to heart. She is young, and although that’s not an excuse to act this poorly, I do think it merits a wee bit of slack. I look back at how I acted at that age and shudder. Again — not a free pass to bully everyone around, but I do think you need to laugh off some of her behavior, and ignore her demands to a degree. And totally just sleep in her bed while she’s gone.

  2. Kat Apr 14 at 11:57 am Reply Reply

    I understand the complaints about the younger sister’s behavior and all that.. however, the writer needs to get a life. She is 27, has a degree and a baby – her 19 year old sister that is away at college 8 months of the year is her biggest issue? So what if they go to dinner without you – they are not your entertainment and you are a guest in their house. It sounds like the writer is also spoiled by the mother and that the mother may be supporting her financially. Certainly it is hard to be a single mom but her priority should be working and getting her own place and starting her own life with her child. It will be hard, of course, but this is the life she has made for herself right now. It is not about the younger sister…

  3. Stacey Apr 14 at 12:05 pm Reply Reply

    I’m in a similar situation — unmarried, pregnant, living at home, disapproving sibling off at college for most of the year. When my older brother first found out I was pregnant his reaction was, “well just get rid of it. Nobody needs to know.” Naturally yelling and tears (on my side) followed. And he backed off. We’ve never had the best relationship, but I actually think things are getting better.
    So my advice is to confront her about it. You’ve certainly had to give up a lot, but I’m sure you totally think that it was all worth it (I know I do.) So she can man-up and deal with not eating at her favorite restaurant or having someone else use her bed. Maybe you can make some compromises..do you cover up with a blanket when you pump? I know, I know. You shouldn’t have to. But that might make her feel more comfortable, and therefore less inclined to complain. Maybe you could ask her WHY all the baby stuff bothers her so much. It’ll likely get ugly, but once you get it all out there, it can only get better.
    And if all that doesn’t work? Find some place that you can go during the day (the park, library, mall) to get away from her and ignore her when you’re stuck at home.

  4. Julie Apr 14 at 12:19 pm Reply Reply

    Hmmm…I can comment on this. I have experience! I was 13 years old (and the baby of three girls!) when my oldest sister had her first baby. (she was 19 at the time.) She didn’t actually live at home, as she was married; but it wasn’t a good or happy marriage, so she spent a LOT of time in our parents house. Pretty much every weekend, and quite often a lot of time during the weeks, too.
    Granted, I was 13, and this situation is about an ‘older’ younger sister, but still…my baby niece slept in MY room when they stayed over. And I loved it! I got up in the night with her (as did my mom, and sister as the situation called for it), and loved having her around.
    I see no reason why an ADULT younger sister should be behaving in such a crap-tastic way.
    My thought is that it is mom’s house, and mom needs to lay down the law about what will and won’t be tolerated. And I agree with Amy that it’s time for everyone to stop walking on eggshells, and stop caving. It doesn’t do anybody any good…

  5. Stephanie Apr 14 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    Uggh. What a total spoiled brat. She’s no longer in high school, so guess what? Her room shouldn’t be “her” room anymore if she’s not living at home full time. But this is something that has to come from your mom, not from you. She needs to be the one to lay down the law.

  6. Sara M Apr 14 at 12:46 pm Reply Reply

    Whoa. I would never have gotten away with this crap. Mom needs to step up (as the freaking parent) and tell the sister to calm the eff down. Also agree on sleeping in her bed when she is gone. I can’t even form words on how shocked I am at how this person is acting.

  7. Liz Apr 14 at 12:50 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, going solely on your description of the situation, your sister sounds like a total brat. And I know all too well from the dynamics of my in-laws the frustration of walking on eggshells around the youngest to keep her happy, even though she is WAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY past the age where that should be going on. THIRTY-THREE YEARS past the age where that should be going on. But I digress.
    However, I do sort of feel like there’s two sides to every story, and we’re only getting your take on things. Your moving back in with your mom may have been very upsetting to your sister for whatever reason: resentment issues from your parents’ divorce? is she having to pay for her college while you’re “sponging” (from her perspective) off your mom? Jealousy that your mom adores the “new” baby?
    It’s clear to me she’s trying to exert some control over her situation, with things like not letting you sleep in her room and demanding a particular restaurant (although, your son is a baby, so……..is he eating at restaurants? Really, you can’t eat anything at the restaurant she wanted?).
    I question whether bringing your mom into this right now is such a good idea, as I think telling on your sister (again, from her perspective) can only serve to escalate the issues she’s having with you. Additionally, does your mom even think any of this is a problem? She might not even be the ally you’re hoping for (I know my in-laws will NEVER change the way they tiptoe around their youngest, even though they’ll throw apologies around on her behalf all day long).
    Why don’t you try going out just you and her for lunch or coffee right when she gets back home for the summer and saying, “look, I feel like something has been going on between us since my son was born. You’re my sister and I love you and I want to figure out how we can have a great relationship and happy house this summer.” If that doesn’t help, it’s family conference time.

  8. Abby Apr 14 at 12:55 pm Reply Reply

    I haven’t finished reading the response because my eyes are popping out of my head! I just finished reading a book that I’ll recommend to you (you know, in all your spare time!: The Pampered Child Syndrome. I see it in big bold italicized letters that have flashing lights floating just above baby sister’s head. She’s acting like a baby and is being enabled. How does her roommate at college tolerate this? I agree with sleeping in her bed regardless and reminding the child on a regular basis that the real baby of the house rules the roost and she has to suck it. BTW – sorry that you’re having to deal with this.

  9. Muirnait Apr 14 at 1:00 pm Reply Reply

    I agree with the others that it needs to come from the mom.

  10. Beth Apr 14 at 1:04 pm Reply Reply

    Holy hell. I want to slap a bitch, figuratively, and I don’t even know this person.
    I agree with Amy, this must end. NOW.

  11. Jessica V Apr 14 at 1:41 pm Reply Reply

    Wow – tough situation. I agree with Liz above regarding the need to have a one-on-one with your sister first (if you haven’t already done that). As Amy and the other comments have noted, she needs to start acting like an adult, and one of the best ways for that to happen is for her to be approached like an adult. Then, if she reacts in a bratty manner, it is time for a family discussion – but at least you’ve given her the opportunity to work it out directly first. And, this discussion should probably be only about how you two, as sisters, can work out the issues around your relationship, and not about her overall attitude – baby steps here!
    Good luck!

  12. MommiePie Apr 14 at 2:00 pm Reply Reply

    You need to confront your sister. If it turns into a fight, then so what? Sounds like she’s on the edge of confrontation all the time anyway. I think you should ask her what exactly her problem is. Why does she feel the need to be so blatantly rude and act like a spoiled brat all the time? Why does the baby bother her so much? She needs to take a step back and look at her disgusting behavior. Maybe asking her to explain it will help her see it?

  13. Cobblestone Apr 14 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    Ok, dissenting a bit here. Both sisters are grown. I think that mom needs to know where the older sister is going to draw a line in the sand, but it is not mom’s job to manage this. We already know how mom reacts to little sister and there hasn’t been enough motivation for her to change her own behavior *yet*.

  14. Sarah Apr 14 at 2:15 pm Reply Reply

    I think she’s acting like a brat, sure, but I’m kind of sympathetic (see Liz’s comment above). I’m seeing a lot — a LOT — of disruption for her. Graduation overshadowed not just by the baby being born but all the attendant complications; you’re back in the house, A, and for a while there, not being particularly unobtrusive (NOT that you should have been), B; pumping in the living room makes it much more difficult for her to invite friends over if that’s her thing; the restaurant thing is a little confusing to me as well so maybe it seemed like BS to her (even though I understand that it’s not) and she was just sick, at this point, of the way she perceives everyone to cater to you; etc. I guess talk to your mom, but maybe see if you can cut her a little slack, even in your own head, just so there aren’t two people in the house with attitude problems, and you can focus on getting through this either directly or by waiting her out.

  15. Bethany Apr 14 at 2:16 pm Reply Reply

    Talk to the sister yourself, don’t involve your mom. You’re an adult, she’s (almost) an adult. This is apparently a house with three grown women.
    From a younger sib point of view, it might appear as though she’s been doing everything right and now it’s getting screwed up by her older sister getting special treatment. Maybe she’s writing a letter elsewhere stating that her older sister got knocked up and is living at home, sponging off her parents, and she’s having to pay for college on her own, and deal with a baby on top of it. I know I went through something similar when my older brother entered rehab. We get along great now, but it required us having a sit down and talking it out so that the table was clear. This has been going on since biblical times (prodigal son) and it deserves to be addressed by the sister, not the mom. Tattling to the mom just can make it seem that you think you’re better than she is.
    This teen has no control over who is in her home, the noises in the living room, and may feel like her great accomplishments are being overshadowed because she followed the “rules.”
    I don’t think you’re wrong to be at home with your baby and I’m not trying to make you feel bad, but look at it from your sister’s perspective. This has to be really rough for her. Especially if she ever looked up to you.

  16. Aimee Apr 14 at 2:50 pm Reply Reply

    I agree, the tension between you and your sister should be dealt with just between you two.
    HOWEVER, your mother needs to be invoved as far as your space limitations. Does your sister help pay for your mother’s mortgage in a percentage equal to the sq ft percentage of “her” room? If not, then I’m sorry but it is not “her” room.
    I got kicked out of my bedroom two weeks before I left for college because my parents wanted my brothers to have separate bedrooms. Did it suck for me? Yes. Did I get over it? Yes. A few weeks of the year sleeping on a sofa bed in the basement did not kill me.
    If there are three adults having issues living in the same space, then three adults need to be part of the discussion to fix it.

  17. Amy in StL Apr 14 at 3:08 pm Reply Reply

    I’ll probaby get pummelled for this but I kind of sympathize with the baby sister. In some families having “your room” goes away when you go to college; but not in all families. For me, having my room when I came home to visit made me happy and gave me a sanctuary when the rest of the world was crazy. I was asked when my parents had people staying if it was okay if they slept in there; but it would have bothered me to realize someone was in my private sanctuary without asking. Since you asked her, violating her trust without telling her may create one more hurdle that will be hard to overcome because breaking a trust is something that is hard to mend. Besides, your son is still a baby and yet you can’t sleep in the same room with him?
    Because she is the baby and your mom probably catered to her a lot, having that all come crashing down at the cusp of adulthood may have been a lot of change to swallow. Honestly, you sound like you made some poor choices that meant you had to move home and you’re acting kind of bratty about it too.
    It’s your mom’s house and if she’s okay with your sister acting this way; you need to either suck it up or move out on your own.

  18. Jay Apr 14 at 3:10 pm Reply Reply

    I think we’re missing a side to this story, and I heartily disagree that the mom should be placed in the middle of her two daughters (and grandchild). It does sound like your sister is acting like a mega brat, but it also sounds like you’re under-acknowledging how your moving back in has affected her and her life and her plans. It’s easy to say “tough” to her, but it’s also easy to say “tough” to you too–if things are so bad, you can move out to your own place.

  19. Fed Up Sister Apr 14 at 3:41 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for answering my question and for all the advice here. Just to clear up a couple things in case it might help?
    -I don’t pump in the living room if there are other guests over. I always cover up when she’s home.
    -I don’t sleep in her bed. I use the extra one in the room. Her bed is hers.
    -I am paying half of all bills to live here and her college is being paid for by my Dad.

  20. Jessica Apr 14 at 5:07 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, I don’t know about this. I think you are a guest in the house, and you should be respectful of the space. Pumping in the living room? Even covered up? Um… that would bother ME and I am pumping for my 7 month old.
    The restaurant thing? That was pretty rude.
    I’d just talk to her. Ask what she wants out of you – why she’s being hateful at times.
    And I’m insanely jealous of the weight loss thing. That has not happened to me AT ALL.

  21. cassie Apr 14 at 5:45 pm Reply Reply

    “because ooooohmygod, is she in for a rude awakening out in the real world.”
    I work at a University and from what I see, um, maybe not so much? Coddling abounds here. So. Much.
    On the other hand, I have experience with my hubby’s much younger (12 year difference) sister and can say for certain that she was always given in to on every occasion when she was in HS and college. (Totally off topic, but when she was 16 she participated in our wedding and afterwards expected to be able to hang out with us and our twenty-something year old friends. AND HER PARENTS AGREED. I was the mean and nasty one who said no, she could not.)
    Anyhow… now that she’s 25, things have improved A LOT. So as hard as it might be, you might just have to wait out a lot of it.
    ::hugs of support::

  22. Katie Apr 14 at 5:50 pm Reply Reply

    Wow. I agree with Amy and most of the commenters, your sister needs to suck it up and grow up. You need to call her on her shit a lot more (I got the impression that you rarely did and kind of just simmer instead). Whenever she is rude about something like that my response would be along the lines of “You don’t speak to me like that.” You are paying to live there, she doesn’t live there anymore. It’s not her bed anymore. I am 21 and if we had guests over and they needed my old room? You can bet that they would be sleeping in my bed, if I was so rude as to protest my mom would smack me down so fast I probably wouldn’t even get a word out.
    I agree with what you said that your mom and you are enabling her. Your mom needs to lay it out to her that this is now your house again and that your sister is the guest since she lives away the majority of the year and isn’t paying for it. But after that it’s up to you to stop the rude behavior. Keep us updated!

  23. Suzy Q Apr 14 at 6:35 pm Reply Reply

    Well, I’ll probably be a lot less sympathetic to the younger sister than were some of the commenters, even though I’m a younger sister.
    First of all: Why isn’t your mother sleeping in the largest bedroom? She’s the Alpha Adult and mortgage holder, after all. (I knew someone who did this with her VERY spoiled adult child, and it still bewilders me.)
    Second, there are TWO people in your unit now, you and your son. I would totally move into her room, not just sleep in it on the sly. Just present it as a fait accompli when she gets home from college. You need the space, and she’s gone most of the year.
    Third, definitely stop catering to her whims. She’s a spoiled brat who needs a BIG wake-up call. Life will not be kind to her, and the sooner she learns that, the better off she will be in the long run. She’ll hate it now, but if she has any smarts, she’ll come to appreciate it later. Maybe in 10 or 20 years. Or, perhaps, when she gets pregnant a year from now.

  24. erica Apr 14 at 9:19 pm Reply Reply

    OMG! Amy can you PUH-lease have a heart-to-heart w my SIL. She’s 27 and the last time (like a year ago) we went on a family vacay she *literally* threw a temper tantrum (crying, door slamming, huffing an puffing, sulking) because we didn’t play the board game she wanted to play. Still played one, were going to play hers next, annnnd… Yeah.
    Some people just need to GET.OVER.BEING.THE.BABY.
    Post haste.

  25. Bethany Apr 15 at 1:36 am Reply Reply

    I think it would have been good to know from the beginning that you are paying half of all the bills. That changes things completely and I hope that your sister’s sympathizers have changed their minds. You aren’t living at home with your mom and sister, you are a roommate to your mom and your mom’s child, since obviously she isn’t acting like an adult. Paying rent and utilities entitles you to the living space and she needs to suck it up. The spacial issues are slightly separate from the dinner/restaurant issues, she is just being childish, selfish and rude on those accounts. Hopefully she really will just grow up. I am the second oldest of 6 and I have had younger sisters be very opinionated on husband choices and stuff like that but then they ate it when the other younger ones didn’t like their choices or actions…it is cyclical and luckily they grew up eventually. Some of it you will need to wait out but I totally disagree that you need to make yourself busy out of the house when she is around. It is your place more than hers…I also liked the comment about it wrong that she have the largest room in the house. If you are paying half of the bills and rent then since you have two people to house you should have the biggest room…IMO.

  26. crabbyappleseed Apr 15 at 10:10 am Reply Reply

    Yeah, WOW. Paying half of the bills changes absolutely EVERYTHING, in my mind. Is your sister contributing anything to the household? If not, I think it’s more your house than hers, to be honest. At the very least, you’re on equal footing (ie: no validity to any sponging complaints), and I’m not sure at all why she’s allowed to act like she’s been acting.
    I agree with the “younger sister is an obnoxious brat” contingent. I mean, WOW.

  27. spookie Apr 15 at 11:29 am Reply Reply

    I hate to say it, and although the younger sister may sound like a bit of a brat, I can understand to some degree, where she is coming from.
    The transition to college for many kids is a tough thing. Your entire world is thrown apart, you’re living in a cramped tiny dorm room with someone you may hate. Having the security of knowing what to expect when you come home can be a huge relief. I imagine that is what little sister is trying to hold onto in her room.
    Sure she’s being a brat, but I imagine the events which led up to older sister moving back home set off a series of life changing “growing” up events for her – from being overshadowed during her own graduation to feeling thrown out of her own home (via her room takeover). She’s probably just overwhelmed and scared about growing up – a lot of kids who go off to college experience these feelings without crazy things going on at home.
    Is little sister acting pretty bratty? Yes, however, think back to when you left home the first time – was it scary and did you just want to have some security of life as normal at home? I know I sure did.
    If I was older sister, I’d at least acknowledge these facts, probably by setting it as ‘hell my life has changed a lot lately too and it’s been pretty crazy and scary for me too – growing up at 19 or 29 is hard! You have no privacy at college, and I have no privacy here at home!’ she probably won’t really understand now but might look back and say, you know me and older sis were in a strange similar situation at that time. Just trying to hold onto some sense of control and individualism and having a space of our own.

  28. eliza Apr 15 at 12:26 pm Reply Reply

    i saw that you commented that you are actually paying to live there so to me that means its your home too… just like in any roommate situation, both sides have to make compromises so that all the people who live there feel comfortable and “at home”… in my mind, your sister doesn’t live there anymore, she’s moved out to go to college, she’s the visitor now when she comes home and should act accordingly. I had to learn the same thing when I went away to college- that my family went on living their lives without me there and have their own spaces and routines now and I was the one who needed to adjust to them in their home. It took my dad to make me see this (which he did in a very gracious way). If my sister had told me that I probably would have wanted to punch her.
    Hope it all works out for you!

  29. andrea Apr 15 at 12:48 pm Reply Reply

    Because I don’t know .. maybe you need to hear it..
    I survived my parent’s divorce and my much older sister had a baby on my 17th birthday. Not only did I think it was the bestest birthday gift ever! but I couldn’t wait to see my niece and help with her. I am so glad now that I spent as much time as I could with her and can’t believe what a remarkable lady she’s turned into. and now I can’t believe she is about to start college! Talk to her I’d hate for your sister to miss out on getting to know her nephew.

  30. Umi Apr 15 at 2:17 pm Reply Reply

    My comment might be redundant, but…
    1) I know that at her age, I would have still claimed my room as my room. Although she’s off to college, being in the position she’s in, home is still home. If she’s in dorms, that’s NOT her home. She probably has lots of stuff in her room. She probably doesn’t know what she wants to do out of college… I’m sure she was reacting to not being displaced. She had the reign on the house and she is getting defensive.
    In your original question it sounds like you’ve all ready established that she’s “out of the nest.” Obviously she is not, but it’s something for her and your parents to decide.
    2) Restaurant thing – That’s just how siblings act sometimes. They are brats. Eh.
    3) This all being said, you pay half the rent. I would speak to your mother. Tell her you are speaking to your sister. (NOT asking her to step in or anything, just let her know about the tension and that you yourself are going to speak to your sister about it – maybe she can offer you another perspective, help, or just agree with you) Then I would speak to the sister yourself, without including the mother.
    I would reassure her that this is her home and that your parents are providing for her. Tell her that you want to create a better environment for the both of you when you are home.
    I would establish boundaries, formalities, etc… and then just wait it out. It might not improve things immediately, but rules need to be drawn by the two of you. As long as you both follow those rules, make sure there is no appearance of resentment (although it might be there). Hopefully with time things will improve.
    Who knows what will happen when she graduates. She might move to another city, go to graduate school, or even come home and work locally. That is still a possibility, so I wouldn’t write her off as “out of the nest,” quite yet. I also wouldn’t categorize her as “mulching” off your parents… until a good year or two after college.
    That’s me… times are hard now. It might be hard for her to find a job and make enough money to pay for apt… right after school. You might have to deal with her for a longer period of time, so I would work on improving the relationship.
    (And I hope this comment doesn’t seem like I’m blaming you. Just… as much as it is not fair, as the older one and the one coming home after being away… you have to take the “bigger person” stance.)

  31. Sara Apr 15 at 3:18 pm Reply Reply

    Yuck, that sounds rough. I agree with Amy’s advice, I don’t see how any change will happen without everyone’s involvement (including your mother’s), but I really hope your mother is open to standing up to sis’s behavior. Like some other commenters, I have a super bratty/entitled/spoiled SIL whose parents refuse to acknowledge any problem with her behavior, and will probably continue to enable her indefinitely. It’s really sad, because she’s 25, and they’ve sacrificed the quality of their relationship with their son in order to continually appease their daughter. When family members put up with bad behavior for so long that it becomes normalized, it can be pretty hard to get everyone on board to stop putting up with it. Good luck!

  32. Dawn Apr 15 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

    With the additional information, yeah, she is being a brat. Maybe an adult 3 way conversation is in order to clear the air and set expectations. Sometimes they outgrow the brattiness – but it took until my youngest sister turned 21 to have an ‘adult’ relationship with her (I’m 5 years older) since we were in completely different points of our lives. Most of the time I pump in the family room but when we have guests, I’ll go upstairs so no one has to see it. I have no modesty anymore (hell, my mother, father and mother in law were there when I gave birth to my son last summer) but it makes others uncomfortable so I roll with it. Can you get a TV in your room? Or I’ll play on my laptop while pumping to while away the time.
    Bottom line: set the expectations and boundaries before summer break to hold onto your sanity. Or you might need to find a new place to live if your mom won’t also make the changes to allow 3 grown women to coexist peacefully in the same house.

  33. Megan Apr 15 at 5:05 pm Reply Reply

    Something else is going on here. I can’t believe your sister is this angry/bratty for no reason at all. I am the youngest of two and WAS NOT an easy teenager…or young adult. My brother was a good kid and never caused my parents any problems. We were not close and he was my mothers sounding board when I was out of control. I got pregnant at 20 and my boyfriend (father of the child) left me when I was 5 months pregnant. My parents were not sympathetic to my cause and I moved out of their house and had little to no contact with them for most of my pregnancy. However, shortly before the birth of my son my mom and I spoke semi-regularly and she ended up being in the delivery room, stayed at my house to help for the first few nights I got home from the hospital, was beyond helpful and adored my son. My brother still lived at home at the time and I stopped by for lunch one day and he LOST IT on me. Our relationship had been strained but this was like nothing I’d ever experienced with him. Long (very long!) story short he was PISSED that I had continued to screw up while he did everything right and I was still, in his eyes, not suffering any consequences for my actions. I’m not passing judgement but wonder if something similar is going on in your household.

  34. anonymous Apr 16 at 1:40 pm Reply Reply

    You (and your mom, and potentially the rest of your family) need to call her on it now. I was the only one to call my “baby” sister out on her bratty behavior (everyone else did the walking on eggshells don’t rock the boat thing) and as a result she is just now growing out of it at 27.

  35. Crissy Apr 17 at 10:05 am Reply Reply

    You need to sit down talk to your mom, and your sister. There is a lot going on here, but the biggest problem (to me) is letting her get away with demaning and getting her own way. Otherwise, it will just continue. Like many others, I have a future sister in law, who has been given into her entire life by everyone. Now at nearly 35, she a whiny manipulative brat who does whatever it takes to have everything HER way. The latest was when she went so far as to have her best friend call and yell at my fiance about descions we made for our wedding. (and that is just the tip of the iceberg….I could probably set up an entire blog dedicated to her antics). I think it will only get worse if you don’t work things out now.

  36. Caitlyn Apr 19 at 12:10 am Reply Reply

    just agreeing with everyone here – my baby is three months old and my 13-year-old sister is better behaved than this. (I’m not living with them, though I have moved in for a weekend or two when my husband was away.) The other night we were there for dinner and my brother (16 yrs old) got grossed out by the discussion of her diapers at the dinner table and my mom scolded him for it and refused to change the subject, telling him it was part of life and he needs to be used to it.
    So yes, I’d sleep in her bed. And I’d put my makeup on her dresser and my clothes in her closet so I could get dressed in peace. (I’m assuming she takes most of her stuff to college so the space is free.) If she’s not using it, it’s just selfish to not let others use it. I would put things back the way they were for when she comes home, though.

  37. Meg Apr 20 at 11:14 pm Reply Reply

    Holy Shit! So much thought about this woman’s sister’s feeeeelings and dissection of the subject… I feel like most people should take a step back and look at the whole picture.
    This girl is not the only member of this family and she needs to remember that it is both their Mother.
    I say get Mom involved, this is not a disagreement between coworkers, it is a Family Matter! If this was going on in my home and for whatever reason I was completely oblivious to a rift I would be quite annoyed if it was not brought to my attention. I run a pretty tight ship and I want to know what’s going on under my roof!
    To Baby Sister and a few Commenters: Let He who is without sin cast the first stone…
    Telling this woman she made poor choices is judgemental bullshit…

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