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Caroline Rules

How to Deal with a Controlling Sibling

Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.

The Dilemma: My older sister is controlling, sometimes mean, and seems to only talk to me when she wants something. We are both in our 50s, and lately I've been feeling very sad that she isn't the sister I want her to be. I am not one to scream or fight back; I cry and run (silly and cowardly but that's what I do). I've sort of pulled back from her recently. I miss her but I also need to buck up and not let her, or anyone for that matter, disrespect me. How should I deal with her? —Ginger

Caroline's Ruling: I'm curious to know if your sister behaves like this with everyone or just you. Is this a personality trait of hers? If it's only directed at you, then that's an issue, but if she's like this to everyone, then she's the one with the bigger problem. In either case, no one should have to endure it.

I think it's time for you to step up. You're in your 50s, and it appears to me that you allow your sister and others (based on your last sentence) to walk all over you.

There's no reason to scream or fight when someone says something negative to you, and running away crying is certainly not an option either. I'm assuming you've never had a conversation with your sister regarding her behavior and how she makes you feel. I suggest you give it a try.

Based on your description of her, she'll probably get defensive and lash out at you. My guess is she'll be expecting you to cry and run as you've done in the past and that the conversation will be over and done with. You need to stick it out and prove her wrong. If she yells, then remain calm and don't let it affect you. State your case and explain to her that you want to be able to have a healthy relationship with her, but her behavior toward you is unacceptable and disrespectful.

Hopefully she'll be reasonable and try to understand your point of view; if not, you have a decision to make. You can cry and run—which only puts you right back where you started—or you can stand your ground and step away from the relationship until your sister gives you the respect that you deserve.

Remember one thing: What you're asking for is respect, a simple courtesy that we're taught as children and that should be an expected part of any relationship. Self-respect is part of that equation too. Find it within yourself and never lose sight of it. Good luck!

Do you have a question for Caroline? Send it to CarolineRulesOnGlo@gmail.com and it may be selected for an upcoming column!

  • From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!

    Photo by Michael T. Greco
Caroline Rules
How to Deal with a Controlling Sibling
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