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Not So Old Fashioned Advice

January 15, 2010

This week’s question comes from a pre-teen who needs help! Please chime in with your advice!

Also, rather than creating a new entry for questions, I’m going to ask you to leave them in the comments section of this post. All questions left here will be added to the list of potential questions for next week’s Not So Old Fashioned Advice column. Remember that you CAN remain anonymous if you type “Anonymous” in the “Name” section of the comments form. Just leave the email field blank.

As before, all questions not answered tonight remain in play for future coumns, so don’t despair if you’re question wasn’t chosen this time.

I know you guys are all kind and wise, so please help our reader by providing your advice in the comments section of this post.

Here’s the question;

I need some help… I’m eleven years old and I share a room with my eight year old sister because we live in a small apartment. I live with my mom, my 4 year old brother, my 8 year old sister sister and my grandma. Well, my grandma thinks my little sister is a little angel. The truth is that my sister treats me like crap. My mom always believes her, so I’m always getting in trouble.

My sister yells at me, demands that my side of the room be clean, never gives me my privacy etc. When I ask for my privacy, she wants me to PAY HER!!! I say no and then “grandma’s little angel” runs off crying to my grandma saying that I yelled at her. My mom is no help because she says that It’s my fault… How can her yelling at me be MY FAULT?!?!

Please give me some tips on how I can get my sister off my back.

This sounds like a really tough situation. It must be frustrating to feel like no one’s listening to your side of the story, especially when you keep trying to tell it. Little sisters (and brothers) CAN be incredibly annoying. And it can be even more challenging as they get older, because they suddenly get wise to things like manipulation (sounds like your little sis is doing her fair share with Mom and Grandma) and pushing your buttons.

First of all, realize that A LOT of this behavior is directed at getting your attention. For years, you’ve been the big sister. Your little sister has probably watched you grow up, idolizing you and wanting to be just like you. It’s just the way of things. And like most big sisters, you’ve probably had times when you just want her to GO AWAY ALREADY, which is perfectly understandable!

But right now, I think your sister’s behaving the way she is to get your attention. In short, she’d rather have you yelling and screaming at her than ignoring her. Also, after years of being the little sister, it sounds like she’s started to realize she can make her presence felt, albeit it in not so positive ways. Sometimes, when people feel like they’ve been denied power for a long time, they wield it a little too happily when they realize they have it. By reacting strongly to her bad behavior you’re just giving her the satisfaction of getting a rise out of you.

All that said, I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear right now. If you can TRY to bring her to your side by including her in a few things, she will feel more like your ally and less like your enemy. I know it’s hard! Especially when all you want to do is pull her hair! (Not really. Don’t do that!) But if you can make her feel, even a little, like you’re on the same side, she’ll have something to lose with her bad behavior – namely, your friendship and regard. Right now, she might feel like she doesn’t have that anyway, so what does she have to lose? On those occasions when she DOES still behave badly, do your very best to ignore her entirely, even if it means leaving the room. It doesn’t seem fair, but you’re doing it for YOU not her, because if don’t give her the reaction that she wants when she behaves badly, she’ll probably start rethinking it altogether. ON the flip side, be extra nice to her when SHE’S extra nice to reinforce the GOOD behavior.

As for your mom and your grandma… that’s a tough one! I’ve probably been guilty of overlooking things now and then just because I want it all to STOP, so I can understand where they might be coming from. At the same time, it ISN’T fair, and I get that. I’m wondering if you can try to find some alone time with your mom and/or grandma? It’s difficult to talk about this stuff with any reason when you’re in the heat of the moment. Maybe if you could find time to go for a walk or something, just the two (or three) of you, it would be easier for them to see where you’re coming from. Try to focus on the way you feel and not the things you feel THEY’VE done wrong, because that wil just put them on the defensive. One trick you can use is to use “I” statements instead of “You” statements. That is, try saying, “I feel like no one listens to my side when we fight” instead of “You never listen to me.”

Living with family can be a challenge, but try to remember that someday, you and your sister will both be grown up. And you’ll probably laugh about these times then!

Good luck, hon! Let us know how things go.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymus permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:20 am

    This is another question for the next week (or the week after that).

    After four or more years in which my english (as a foreign language) mark was always “excellent” my new english teacher says that I can’t speak english. He tries to find as many mistakes as possible in my exams and when I want to know why they are mistakes he just says that I couldn’t understand the reasons as I am too bad. I tried to talk to him about that a few times and asked why he thinks that I’m that bad. The only answer he ever gave me was: “You are bad because you can’t properly speak like an American instead you have a funny somehow british or irish accent and you are from an island.” I have no idea what that things have to do with my english mark especially as I decided after grade 8 to write and speak british english. So I don’t even have to speak like an american (sorry to all those who are americans or at least like the way americans speak. I don’t like it, it sounds too much like my grandfather used to speak english with me.)
    A while ago I even asked the guidance teacher for help. She only said that I should arrange myself with the teacher. I know that I should do so but I also don’t want any unfair marks on my report especially not in english as it is one of my favourite subjects. I don’t have any ideas how to solve this problem except from speaking (and writing) american english and that’s what I really don’t want to do, I think I’m not even able to do so after more than 2 years speaking and writing only british english. An how bad my english really is…judge by yourself and don’t tell me that I’ve forgotten any commas, I don’t like them neither in english nor in any other language. They are just a nasty thing teachers invented to show us that we can’t even write properly in our mothertongue.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 17, 2010 9:58 am

    btw, i think my sister saw this before me… and now she’s mad at you (MZ) and I….. 😐

  3. Anonymous permalink
    January 16, 2010 12:36 am

    This is a question for next week’s advice column.

    I have a good friend who suddenly stopped talking to me a few months ago. I had no idea why but recently I heard that it’s because someone else told her I said something about her that I didn’t say. I’ve tried talking to her, but she just blows me off. Part of me wants to keep trying to talk to her about it but part of me is mad that she assumed the thing she heard is true. I feel like if she cared about our friendship she’d at least ask me if it was true before throwing away our friendship. What do you think I should do?

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 17, 2010 9:56 am

      That happened to me also!!!! My really good friend LaShae just started ignoring me…. I think she is ignoring a lot of her old good friends cause i also saw that one of her other friends didn’t talk to her at all. Whenever I try to talk to her she just ignores me comepletely… I gave up when I moved away… 😦

  4. January 15, 2010 11:52 pm

    I have a little sister and she’s also three years younger than me! I think a lot of our squabbles arose from not having a lot in common. She didn’t understand why I loved reading so much or why I listened to the type of music I did. Then I began to do just as you suggested Michelle. I included her a little more. I gave her one of my books (I was a stickler about her handling my stuff) that I loved and thought she would enjoy. Now she likes reading just as much as I do. As for music, we have quite different tastes, but we try harder to accept our individuality. THis was a wonderful post with some great advice. I feel like I could use this with my sister. 🙂

  5. Anonymous permalink
    January 15, 2010 10:48 pm

    Thank You!!! 🙂

  6. Jessica permalink
    January 15, 2010 7:13 pm

    I’m a big sister too, to 3 siblings. We were all born within 5 years of each other and had to share bedrooms, so I understand how you feel! They did the same things to me and I often was blamed for things that didn’t exactly happen the way they said! Imagine having 2 little brothers AND a little sister ganging up on you. It’s not fun. And you know what? Michelle is right! It was all about the attention. I was born first, and so were you…so your little sis has big shoes to fill, and she knows it.

    I’m not sure how you are reacting when she is acting up, but I bet you’re mad and frustrated, because I felt the same way – and like MZ said, your little sister is probably thinking “at least my big sister is paying attention to me now!” The most important thing you have to remember is that you are the oldest, so it falls on you to set the example for your little sister. It’s a big job, but you can do it!

    Being a big sister is awesome too, because eventually the age gap will narrow and you won’t know what to do without her. That’s the coolest thing about having a sister, younger or older. She’s your best friend. And when the chips are down, you are going to rely on each other for friendship, support and love.

    It doesn’t seem like it now but in about 3 years or so, things are really going to change (for the better, trust me on this!). Does that mean you have to deal with it for 3 more years? NO! Start today. Reach out to her, spend an hour doing something she wants to do, and let your mom and grandma see that. I guarantee they don’t think it’s all your fault. Your grandma is your mom’s mom, and moms never forget what their kids were like!

    I can’t stress enough that this is totally temporary. My sister is my best friend in the whole world and we are 3 years apart just like you and your sis. My world would end if something happened to her. We are in our 30’s now and we laugh at the things we did when we were kids. 🙂 Lots of love and luck to you.

    • michellezinkbooks permalink*
      January 15, 2010 7:26 pm

      What fantastic advice, Jessica! You said this as only a sibling could (I don’t have any sisters). Thanks so much for stopping by to offer your words of wisdom.



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