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Old 02-03-2005, 12:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
Filling the Void.
 
la petite moi's Avatar
 
Location: California
My sister is failing high school; what should I do?!

So, here's the deal:

I'm still living at home for another year. I share a room with my sister (who is messy, rude/curses, and spends money like crazy). She is obsessed with playing her guitar and loves fashion, which she hopes to go into. She wants to become a fashion designer, and despite my many warnings that she will not get into a good fashion school with her grades, she continues to goof off. She has been recently using up my mother's plane mileage to travel to my uncle's to record her guitar playing, but hasn't gotten ANY gigs or let anyone in a higher spot listen to her music. In other words, she's going nowhere with her music either. My dad gave both of us 500$ for Christmas, and she's already thrown it away, mostly. (Just saw a receipt for 67$ in Urban Outfitters accessories, there are 5$/10$ bills all over the floor of our room, and she told me she was buying a new bathing suit from Victoria's Secret.)

My parents are at their wits end with my sister, and so I've become their only hope (I am in college with a 3.89 GPA and 16 units this semester; I'm a freshman and I already have 27.5 units completed). I don't really want all the responsibility put on my shoulders, since I'm already stressed out with college, work (my sister doesn't have her license or a job and just turned 17) and a long distance relationship with nwlinkvxd.

So I just found out that my sister (junior in high school) is missing 37.5 units that she should already have, has a 1.5 GPA, and is now on probation with the school for truancy (and must serve community service time at the Goodwill store here). I WANT her to do well. She needs help. All she does is play her guitar, play with friends, play with clothes, and NEVER finishes her homework. I wish I could motivate her without her screaming profanities at me and telling me to piss off.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?!
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Nothing.

It isn't your responsibility to raise your sister. It is your parents job.

Let you sister know you will be there for her if she needs your help but just stay out of it. You have your own schooling and life to worry about.
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: California
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
Nothing.

It isn't your responsibility to raise your sister. It is your parents job.

Let you sister know you will be there for her if she needs your help but just stay out of it. You have your own schooling and life to worry about.
It would be easy like that if my parents didn't bring me into it, and if I didn't share a room with her! My parents do nothing about her except insult her, and pretend like that is okay. My dad works 14 hour days, and my mom is recovering from breast cancer (and ignores family problems and pretends like the whole world revolves around her now). I am left living in a swill because I share a room with her (I think the mess in our room is due to lack of responsibility). I talk to my parents about the mess in our room and how I can't deal with it; they ignore me. I ask for my own room (since my mom's junk inhabits the guest room, she has her own room for her computer and bird, and shares a room with my dad) and I'm ignored. I CAN NOT STAND IT.

I know it's not my responsiblility, but no one is doing anything about it. My sister gets home at midnight, talks on the phone until 2 in the morning, and goes out with SCADS of men (18-25 year olds). I don't want her to come to me asking for money like a bum when I'm married to nwlinkvxd and living well.

Last edited by la petite moi; 02-03-2005 at 12:29 PM..
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Agreed. She's not your responsibility at all. Let her wander through life aimlessly-your parents should as well. These are her choices-maybe she'll grow up, maybe not. By the way, if I were you, I'd be scooping up all those loose bills on the floor and getting myself something well-deserved.
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
is KING!
 
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Good call, Charlatan.
Youre her sister, not her keeper. Try to give her some helpful advice and then tell her you are going to butt out and leave it to your parents. Dont take on her bullshit as your own. It sounds like your sister really needs to learn some leasons about life...
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
Filling the Void.
 
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Location: California
Quote:
Originally Posted by ngdawg
Agreed. She's not your responsibility at all. Let her wander through life aimlessly-your parents should as well. These are her choices-maybe she'll grow up, maybe not. By the way, if I were you, I'd be scooping up all those loose bills on the floor and getting myself something well-deserved.
Unfortunately, I already thought of that, but if I did that, she would find out sometime, and then whine to my parents, who would side with her.
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Charlatan's right. There isn't anything you can do, she'll have to figure it out for herself. I watched my brother flunk out of high school despite my warnings/encouragement. He dug himself a pretty deep hole and stayed there for a few years until he decided to get his act together, once he was ready to fix his life, I was the first one there ready to give him whatever he needed. If you want to help her you're gonna have to wait until she's ready to listen, until then just keep your head down and focus on your own problems.
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree with Charlatan that this isn't your position, but I will admit myyounger brothers were always a concern of mine and it's quite difficult to not want to do something. It seems you have done all the things I would have and that should be enough for you. I would talk to your parents now, and not your sister. Tell them how many things you already have on your plate and that it's their turn to step up to the plate.

They are the ones letting her use their flyer-miles, they are the ones letting her keep her shit all over the house and not picked up (my Mom to this day if I lived at home at 25, would be taking my stuff and tossing it out the door if it was messy). As for her music, she's still under mommy and daddy's roof, time for them to tell her she can't play until her homework is done for the day. As for the money all over the place, I'd start packing my pockets with it. Tell her she wants to take your time and your space and treat it like crap then you can do the same for her....she must not need it that bad if it's all over the place...

Either way good luck to you! Remember she's a kid and she may just be feeling inadequte because big sister is doing so well and she doesn't ever see herself doing that, so why bother?? Ya know? Maybe it's time to tell her it's not about livingup to you or anyone else, but she needs to do something!! (Although it seems you already tried that....)
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Old 02-03-2005, 12:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Am I the only one that thinks Charlatan's position is crappy? Sure, it would be great if things worked out between her and the parentals, but things haven't. And now she's doing what most teenagers would do with very little responsibilities and many freedoms- taking advantage and having a good time. If she can't get the right kind of support from her parents, she should at least get it from an older and wiser sister.

If you want to help her out, I suggest you focus on her strengths. Right now she wants to do fashion and music. Fine. She needs to move beyond play to practice though. Before she can gain recognition for those areas in her life she needs to have some degree of mastery over them.

If you want to help her GPA, you're going to have to get involved seriously with her school, and her schoolwork. Give her recognition for even small things she does for school. Encourage her to practice her guitar, or even set up some lessons for her as a gift. Don't give the satisfaction of stimulation by arguing with her or even getting very mad at her for screwing up. Attention, whether good or bad, is addicting.

But what I think would be most important is connect with her. Don't be the bitchy sister that the parents like more because she does so well, and doesn't understand me. be the cool sister that's on my side and believes in me, and wants me to do better. Just talk to her about stuff not about school/grades/her future and do fun stuff with her.

I'm saying it'll take a lot of effort, and a lot of resistance, if you want to affect your sister's life. You have to get involved, not just yell at her from the sidelines.
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Last edited by skier; 02-03-2005 at 01:05 PM..
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Old 02-03-2005, 01:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm thinking she requires more involvement than you could provide and would respond best to a cash reward for successful completion of high school, and would benefit from a life experience of not recieving said reward. In a nutshell, I don't you've got the resource nor time to provide the requisite amount of support, and she'll have to figure it on her own as she has stuck herself in a ridiculously undesirable situation and is bent on keeping it that way for whatever reason.
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Old 02-03-2005, 01:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
Filling the Void.
 
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Location: California
skier, I have tried giving her positive re-enforcement. I've talked to her about a local music station that wants to hear from amateur music enthusiasts, encouraged her to contact restaurants with live music (even though I'm not quite fond of her incessant playing in our room and her boring style). Also, I saved the sewing machine my mother was going to throw away so that my sister could repair it (with the money she got from christmas) so she could start sewing new fashions instead of just drawing stuff on paper and throwing it on the floor.

I continue to encourage her to do these things, but my sister just tells me to stop nagging her and screams curse words.

Also, I don't like doing things with her. She is VERY different from me- is obsessed with clothes and makeup, goes out with at least a dozen guys in a year's time, and has TOTALLY opposite music taste.

My parents have given up on trying to watch her while she's doing her homework. Frankly, I don't have the time/want to try to get her to sit down either (which she probably wouldn't be willing and would just end up cussing me out).
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
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skier, it may sound harsh but it is the right advice.

You can not control your sister's life and are not responsible for her. My wife was made to feel responsible for her sister and at age 30 she is still coping with the effects of that.

And moi, since your parents don't seem to exert much control, if I were you I would try to find some way to organize your mom's stuff, get it out of the guest room, and move into it if that's at all possible. As a wise person once said "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" or something like that.
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:13 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Moi, as a sister there is nothing you can do but be there for her WHEN SHE'S READY!!! Otherwise you'll just be the bossy older sister who always nags at her. Your parents are wrong to place it on you.
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:18 PM   #14 (permalink)
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You can't help someone that doesn't want help. It really sucks but it's true. It's not your job to raise your sister, it's your parents, if they don't want to do their job, then let them face the consequences of having an out of control daughter. Right now your getting your own life in order and setting things up for your own future and until you get that done you're not in a position to help your sister with her problems, especially if she doesn't want help. Don't try to keep your sister from falling down, just be there to help her get back up when she is ready for help and wants it, although if she hasn't changed and just wants an easy ride from you, like she's currently getting from your parents, then I'd say leave her ass out on the street, you have no obligation to help someone who can't appreciate what you're trying to do for them.
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Last edited by MageB420666; 02-03-2005 at 02:25 PM..
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Sometimes the hardest thing about being a sibling is watching the person you grew up with dig their own hole. Even harder is understanding that only they can climb back out.

Sometime people need to hit rock bottom to begine going up again. It's just hard to watch when it's your brother or sister.
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:24 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skier
Am I the only one that thinks Charlatan's position is crappy?
It isn't a nice position but it is realistic.

LPM... As I suggested and dksuddeth suggests above... let her know that you will be there for her when she is ready.

From what you have written since your first post, it sounds like you have been trying your best to help her out. She is clearly not receptive to this. The best thing you can do now is continue to show her a better way by being a good example.

Just remember, she isn't you and she will do things differently. They may piss you off but it is her life and, again, it isn't your responsibility to raise her.

This doesn't mean you should stop caring, making suggestions about how she can make her life better, it just means you shouldn't spend your time and energy stressing about her. Your life is busy and full as it is...
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Old 02-03-2005, 02:51 PM   #17 (permalink)
pow!
 
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Welcome to the club. What club? The Responsible Sibling Saddled with Guilt and Responsibility for the Irresponsible (yet, somehow favored by the parents) Sibling Club. Membership is free, since you are already paying your dues every goddamn day you have to deal with your family's bullshit.

Both my wife and I were members of this club, and lemme tell you, there is nothing you can do but save yourself. Do whatever you need to do for your own sanity first. Once you have done that, if you have enough physical and emotional energy left take care of your sister.

You can not save someone who does not want to be saved. Let her fail. The longer she is propped up, the longer it will take her to assume responsibility for herself. Once she falls low enough, she may get her shit together.

She may not. She may be like this her entire life, leeching off whomever is kind enough to allow themselves to be taken advantage of.

Be there for her emotionally, but don't act like a bank, motel, booking agent, or employer.

Don't ever, ever, ever, never, ever, no matter what listen to this one little gem, "She's having a hard time because you are so successful and she isn't." Next time somebody says that, you have my expressed written permission to punch them in the mouth.

You are responsible for you, and you are doing a damn fine job.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:06 PM   #18 (permalink)
Filling the Void.
 
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Location: California
clavus, you are so right. I just talked to my mother about how my sister needs help. I suggested a psychologist, and she just turned it around on me, saying that I need a psychologist myself because I get depressed often. However that may be, I'm successful in what I do and I am actually LESS STRESSED when I'm not around my family (the mess and horrible fighting affects my mental health- nwlinkvxd can vouch for that). Then I told my mom that she shouldn't enable my sister to further entertain notions that failing high school is okay by letting my sister use her flyer miles. My mom's retort was: "You know, I think I'm going to take Erica to Europe this summer because she's nice to be with" while giving me a smirking glare, because she knows I will be working my ass off in summer classes so I can graduate early.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Given what I have read in this thread and what you have posted elsewhere... do your year and get out.

It sounds like your family is dragging you down.

You will probably like them more when you live somewhere else and can put some distance between them and you.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:31 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Location: Chicago
I'm going to agree with Charlatan. As you can see from our avatars, we often don't get along. But we did come together to save Christmas.

Aside from that, you have to look out for you first. Your sister won't accept your help until she's ready. It sucks to watch someone do this to themselves, but the more help you offer, the more she will resist. I agree that you should put some distance between yourself and them as soon as it's possible.

Let her make her mistakes but be there for her when she's ready to get it together.

In other words, my advice is to do pretty much what the majority of posters have advised: take care of yourself first. Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:33 PM   #21 (permalink)
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LPM,

I'm sorry to read about your situation, but it seems like the best advice has already been given to you by Charlatan and Clavus.

I didn't say it's happy advice, just good advice.

Unfortunately, part of growing up is learning that you can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved, that the only person you can make happy is yourself, and that sometimes the best thing you can say to someone is, "no".

If you want to be a good sister, then you will do the hard thing: let her sink, don't enable her bad habits and be there for her if she ever wants to change.

best of luck
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:33 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Moi, it sounds like you don't know how to say no. You have taken responsibility far beyond your own life. It sounds like your whole family has gone through a lot of turmoil with your mothers illness.

Is moving out an option? Living on campus will be a heck of a lot better than living with your family, and it has a way of improving sibling relationships.

Take care of yourself, be a kind and good example, but know that at some point, your family will have to fend for itself. If your sister dosn't want to change, there's not much you can do about it.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:36 PM   #23 (permalink)
Filling the Void.
 
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Location: California
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickynicole
Moi, it sounds like you don't know how to say no. You have taken responsibility far beyond your own life. It sounds like your whole family has gone through a lot of turmoil with your mothers illness.

Is moving out an option? Living on campus will be a heck of a lot better than living with your family, and it has a way of improving sibling relationships.

Take care of yourself, be a kind and good example, but know that at some point, your family will have to fend for itself. If your sister dosn't want to change, there's not much you can do about it.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:42 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Sounds like a blanket party is in order. It was usually a great motivator in the military but needs to be used sparingly. First you gather a few choice hard objects that fit snugly into the end of a sock, place the items into the sock and stash the sock under your pillow. Then you wait until she goes to sleep. After she is soundly asleep you quietly get up, wrap her blanket around her snugly so she can't escape being extremely careful to cover her eyes so she can't see who is doing it and her mouth to muffle any sounds then proceed to beat the living shit out of her with the sock stuffed with hard objects until she becomes unconsious then quietly go back to bed. When you both awake in the morning she will have a completely different attitude.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:52 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Location: the land of milk and honey
It would be all too easy for me to say that my older brother should have helped me correct the things I was doing at that age, but that's not being responsible to or for myself. The best you can do is give answers when they ask questions. As for your folks, talk to them more. they have to step up to the plate with your sister, even talk to them about the way they talk to her.
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Old 02-03-2005, 03:53 PM   #26 (permalink)
Filling the Void.
 
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Location: California
scout, I'm sorry, but after living in an abusive family lifestyle until I was 15 1/2 years old, I don't really find that amusing. I would never physically hurt my sister because I know thats one of the reasons she probably so screwed up.
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Old 02-03-2005, 04:13 PM   #27 (permalink)
Addict
 
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This calls for a human sacrifice. (ala Fight Club)
It may be illegal, but you would be amazed at the affect of surviving a life or death situation...It's hard to talk to someone who doesn't want to listen, I can only say good luck.
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Old 02-03-2005, 04:14 PM   #28 (permalink)
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You can't help people who don't want to help themselves.

I think this applies to everyone, even siblings.
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:46 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I think Clavus hit the nail on the head. Your whole family situation sounds like it sucks, not just what's happening with your sister. When I was a senior in high school, I literally counted the days until I moved out of the war zone I called home. Keep your grades up, stay focused on school, and when your year is up, get the hell away from there and don't look back. Getting some distance between yourself and your family will do you a lot of good, in my opinion, and will probably help smooth relations over. You can't assume responsibility for your family's actions, or lack thereof, to get this situation in control.
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:51 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlatan
Nothing.

It isn't your responsibility to raise your sister. It is your parents job.

Let you sister know you will be there for her if she needs your help but just stay out of it. You have your own schooling and life to worry about.
Exactly my thoughts before I even read your post.

She makes her own choices, and must deal with the consequences of her own actions. It's not in any way your responsibility to fix her. Telling her you love and support her is about all that is required of you as a sister.

Last edited by pinkie; 02-07-2005 at 11:05 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 02-03-2005, 06:53 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lebell
Unfortunately, part of growing up is learning that you can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved, that the only person you can make happy is yourself, and that sometimes the best thing you can say to someone is, "no".

If you want to be a good sister, then you will do the hard thing: let her sink, don't enable her bad habits and be there for her if she ever wants to change.

best of luck
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Old 02-03-2005, 10:09 PM   #32 (permalink)
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damn LPM sounds like a crummy situation...

likes been said before take care of yourself...

and my own advice is to work hard get the fuck out of that shithole town...

(and pinkie love your avatar true romance is an awesome movie)
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Old 02-03-2005, 11:36 PM   #33 (permalink)
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LPM, I concur with everybody else.

You ain't your sisters keeper.

'Nuff said.
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Old 02-04-2005, 12:24 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la petite moi
My mom's retort was: "You know, I think I'm going to take Erica to Europe this summer because she's nice to be with" while giving me a smirking glare, because she knows I will be working my ass off in summer classes so I can graduate early.

To which you should have responded: GREAT!

Really, it would mean 3 weeks of peace and quiet
What more could you want while you're working hard.

Sounds to me like you've already decided what you're gonna do (sit the year out and get out), so I say just endure it, and make sure you follow your plan.
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Old 02-04-2005, 01:25 AM   #35 (permalink)
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You should notify your parents of this. It isn't your job. It's good that you show concern but you have a life of your own.
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Old 02-04-2005, 02:52 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Life isn't fair. In a year or two she will be a rich pop star.
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Old 02-04-2005, 09:38 AM   #37 (permalink)
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Try choking her. Seriously if she is being so immature about life you need to make her see how things are. Explain to her that your concerned. If she tells you to screw off then tell her fine. Its her problem.
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Old 02-04-2005, 02:56 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flat5
Life isn't fair. In a year or two she will be a rich pop star.
And in another year, her sister will lip sync on SNL.
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Old 02-04-2005, 03:27 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la petite moi
Also, I don't like doing things with her. She is VERY different from me- is obsessed with clothes and makeup, goes out with at least a dozen guys in a year's time, and has TOTALLY opposite music taste.

My parents have given up on trying to watch her while she's doing her homework. Frankly, I don't have the time/want to try to get her to sit down either (which she probably wouldn't be willing and would just end up cussing me out).
Speaking from personal experience, being a kid and having an older sibling who doesn't like doing things with you is the same thing as having an older sibling who doesn't like you. It sucks and it makes you hate them forever... or until you've successfully completed years of therapy, whichever comes first. Basically, what I'm saying is that it is probably quite transparent to her that you don't like being around her and it certainly doesn't sound like anybody else in your family is giving her the kind of attention that a talented (and maybe a little misguided) teenage girl needs - as evinced by her constantly seeking affection from men (not boys). I'm not saying anything is your fault or that this doesn't suck for you, but the situation isn't exactly roses and pats on the back for the kid either.

My view is that Charlatan is right in that you are NOT her parent. You can't tell her what she should do with her life (nor SHOULD you). It also isn't fair to you as the only person in your family who realizes that something needs to change for her to have to bear the entire responsibility. What you can do, if you choose to do anything at all, is be her sister. If you're going to try to get her to realize that you understand her situation sucks and that you're not trying to control her life (which is the message I would suggest conveying to her), then do it genuinely. Sure, she may distrust you and curse at you the first few times, but I can almost guarantee that all she ultimately wants from you is your affection. There's nothing worse you can do than try to "help" her by spending time with her and giving her advice (or worse yet, orders) when you are visibly unhappy about being in her presence.
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Old 02-04-2005, 05:39 PM   #40 (permalink)
Unbelievable
 
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Location: Grants Pass OR
LPM, your sisters behavior reminds me much of myself at that age. I had an older brother that made many many sacrifices to try to bail me out of situations I created for myself. It wasn't until I could no longer rely on him to clean up the mess i had made of my life, that I decided to do it for myself. It was a very difficult thing for him to do, but until i decided to grow the hell up and take responsibility for my life, nothing he did actually helped me. I traveled a pretty rough road for a number of years (drugs, crime, homelessness, fights, etc.) All you can really do is offer some guidnace and advice when she asks for it. Sucks, doesn't it?
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