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Get Used to Your Family Being Crazy

More Bad Advice from Hannah - this week, on nutty sisters.

Hannah Sternberg


June 5, 2013 - 10:00 am
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Submit your questions about friendship, relationships, careers, family, or life decisions to or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice, PJ Lifestyle’s new advice column every Wednesday!


This week, one of my regular commenters asks for advice on his (or her) self-destructive sister. The situation is below:

Dear Bad Advice,

Please allow me to complain about my constantly-complaining sister!

Actually, I try not to buy into her mindset. The constant complainer “wins,” if you continually allow them to get under your skin.

Not only does my sister complain a lot, but she has made some very bad choices in her life: cheating on a good husband, refusing to reconcile with him, not doing anything about finding a decent job, constantly antagonizing friends and family, etc., etc. And despite all of her very bad choices, she always finds someone else to blame for her self-inflicted misery. She even blames our kind, responsible, loving parents, who did not spoil us, but who, according to her bizarre thinking, supposedly ruined her life by not preparing her for every possible situation which might arise due to her own mistakes. And if you get into a conversation with her, she will be sure to let you know this.

People like my sister seem to wallow in their own misery, and have a “grass-is-greener” attitude about other people’s lives, which is, of course, completely unrealistic. And, there are times when I just need to tell my sister what’s what, even though that always creates a firestorm, and there are other times when I need to break off contact for at least a while. My sister needs to take responsibility for herself, and until that happens, she will continue to inflict misery on herself and others.

- Not Into Sister’s Act

This is going to sound like bad advice, but don’t treat your sister like she’s crazy for going through some ups and downs.

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Thank you Hannah! I appreciate all of your advice. Pity is one thing that I need to work on. I feel it for some people, but there are other difficult people for whom it has been hard to summon much pity.

I also think you are right that boundaries are key. I've found that sometimes one can associate productively with difficult people--sometimes!--and I suppose that boundaries are essential for that. And at 51 years old, I've seen that in many situations in life, choosing one's battles is very important. It allows one to focus on the battles that must be fought. Jesus taught a lot about these issues, and His teachings have a lot in common with your advice. It helps me to strive to use Him as an example, although I stumble and fall a lot in those attempts.

Thanks again Hannah! And I enjoyed Cheap Trick a lot--they got my feet moving again like they always used to do!
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