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Ask Amy: Sisters’ estrangement is no one else’s business

DEAR AMY: My sister and I have been estranged for several years. The issues involve mistrust, dishonesty, financial and emotional manipulation, and her choice to marry my ex-husband!

After this she has proceeded to spread untrue information about me to our extended family and friends, in an effort to sway their feelings about me and my family.

I could cite more instances of outrageous behavior, but I think you get the picture.

What is your take on this? What am I supposed to say to people when they suggest that my sister and I make amends with each other? I’m up to my eyeballs with this. -- On the Edge

DEAR EDGE: I’m struggling to imagine the context in which people feel free to suggest that you must reconcile with someone who is something of a danger to you. I’m not suggesting that your sister is actually physically dangerous, but that this relationship is toxic and depleting and not good for you. Given what you report, the “amends” should be offered by her — and are up to you to accept (or not).

If you don’t discuss your sister (or your relationship with her) openly, then people will not be prompted to weigh in. If people suggest or insist that you make amends (unprompted), then you don’t need to justify or even respond. If you want, you can say, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t want to discuss this with you.”

DEAR AMY: My brother had a son several years ago following a nasty breakup. They spent time together until the boy became an adult, and my brother had another child with his current wife. Now, our family never sees the first son.

My sister and I are friends with our nephew on social media. He has made comments about my brother, and it’s obvious he feels hurt and angry that his father is not in his life.

My brother makes no effort to see him and thinks it’s completely up to his son to revive their relationship. How can I convince my brother to accept his responsibility as a father without being told to mind my own business? -- Concerned Aunt

DEAR CONCERNED: You cannot control how other people respond to you. Being told to mind your own business seems a small personal price to pay to encourage your brother to accept his own son and have a relationship with him.

If you attempt to influence your brother and it doesn’t have the effect you desire (and it probably won’t), then you should carry on and forge whatever relationship you can with your adult nephew.

Your nephew’s choice to play this out on social media is a poor one; he should take his hurt feelings offline. Expressing his thoughts and feelings to his father privately would be honest, and might actually pave the way toward a relationship between the two.

DEAR AMY: Your answer to “Uncomfortable” was way off the mark. Her new boss had arranged for employees to go to a “raunchy” movie as a “team-building” event.

You suggested that she attend but excuse herself, skip the movie and go out with the group afterward. Are you serious?

I had a boss like that and he turned out to be a sexual pervert making everyone’s life h--l. She should say, “I’m sorry Mr. X, but when I signed up for this event I didn’t know what movie we were seeing. I don’t enjoy that type of film, but will be happy to reimburse you for my ticket.” He might try to laugh it off or make her feel like an outsider. Don’t buy into it. -- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: I appreciate your take on this. “Uncomfortable” said she was a brand-new employee; she had already agreed to attend this event and was concerned about being labeled by her boss and co-workers.

Your advice is completely sound and is the ideal response. However, realistically, given the current employment climate and the fact that she was a new hire, I tried to offer a way for her to deflect this issue until she had more grounding and knew who (and what) she was dealing with.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2014 by the Chicago Tribune



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