What Is Wrong with My Sister ?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have been the only family caregiver to my father, now age 90, for the past 4 1/2 years. My sister (4yrs older) is a recently retired LVN.

My father broke his hip in 2009. After he returned home from rehab, my sister came over. My father wanted other family members to also help him for a while. Before the question to her about when she would be available to help even got completed, she pointed at me and said “everything was fine until SHE came along!” and stormed out of the house.

In January of 2011, my father had a “sinking” spell at cardiac rehab. One of the nurses called my sister to tell her. My sister’s response? “what are you calling me for?? Only call me if it’s a real emergency!” then she hung up.

My father has now been in an assisted living facility for about two years. My sister has never been any help to him, or me. Her phone calls and visits are sporadic, at best.

I live in a town about an hour away from my father; my sister lives less than two miles away.

About a month ago, on a visit to him, he told her has a new will, and that she could throw away the copy of his hold will that she has. (I suspect she must have irritated him)
That same day, she left me a voice mail saying.
” Um, I think you always go over and do stuff for Daddy on Tuesdays, which is tomorrow. Um, if you’re gonna go tomorrow could you call me and tell me what time you’re gonna be there? I’d kinda like to be there and I have a few things to say. ……….. Not discuss…….just say….. And I’m not, I’m not mad about anything but I need to say some things to him and I want you there to hear ‘em and actually I’d like you to hear ‘em too. And then you can say what you want to. That’s fine. Just call me and let me know, if that’ll be allright.”

When I talked to my father about the message, he told me to set up a meeting with her, and that he wanted to record the conversation.
At the meeting, with the director of the facility present:

Sister – I’m not playing games
ME – Daddy, did you tell her that you wanted to record the……

Daddy – We’re going to record all the conversation this afternoon

Sister – you’re gonna sit on a tack.

Daddy – huh?

Sister – You’re just looking for trouble. You’re looking to make me look bad.

Daddy – well, I haven’t heard from you in so long, you know and “I didn’t say that” “ Yes you did”

Sister – so, you’re gonna gang up on me

Me – we’re not ganging up…

Sister – with a witness here. Yes you are
- ok. Go ahead. Speak. I’m gonna listen to you if you’re gonna record. What do you have to say.

Daddy- whatever you want to say

Sister – I’m not saying nothing

Daddy – well why’d we come over here?

Sister- do I need a lawyer?

Daddy – huh?

Sister – (nervous giggle) I said do I need a lawyer?

Daddy – no. I’ve paid all the money that I’m going to for a lawyer.

Sister- I didn’t ask for any money

Daddy – I didn’t say that. I said for a lawyer. You understand?

Sister – it’s just not right

Daddy – all right

Sister – I was up for a casual conversation with ya’ll. Just to see if you needed any help. If I could do anything/

Me – hang on for a minute please

Sister – no, I’m not hanging on

Me – I’m gonna read back what your message said to me

Sister – yeah, there’s a lot of old stuff that we oughta just let go

Me – no. your current message, from two weeks ago. What you said.
She walked out
Daddy – I figured this was gonna happen. she’s always been this way. She’ll start something and then blow up and off she goes

So, what is wrong with her?

A: I appreciate you asking your question, but there isn’t enough information here for me to sort through all the dynamics. The bottom line is that your sister is who she is. She hasn’t been helpful, has done her best to alienate herself, father and her sister, and doesn’t seem to be able to take any feedback, comments, or responsibility when it comes to a father.

With this is sad and unfortunate it doesn’t sound like there is any real change that is desired by your sister. Your dad has the right idea. If she hasn’t been able to manage a balanced relationship or help out adequately your dad has not only the right, but the need to rewrite his will.

I would strongly encourage you to begin protecting yourself both legally and psychologically. Getting a consult from a lawyer is important so that your dad can feel comfortable with this amendment..

Family dynamics tend to crystallize as the last parent ages. Sounds like your sister is becoming more of who she’s always been.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Feb 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). What Is Wrong with My Sister ?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/02/10/what-is-wrong-with-my-sister/