Ask Amy: Older sister may be overly sistering The Denver Post

Dear Amy: I have been trying to figure out how to deal with family members that decide to cut off all communication with me without explanation.

One episode happened with my niece, who is in her 30s.

The last thing I said to her was, “Would you like to come over to visit?”

Her response was, “Why do people keep trying to make me do things that I don’t want to do?” And that was the last time she talked to me.

She blocked me from her social media and hasn’t responded to any text message or phone calls.

It has been almost three years.

Just a few months ago my youngest sister out of nowhere cut me off from her social media.

I asked her why and she said, “I don’t want to share my life with you right now.”

I asked what I did or said and she said, “I’m asking for some space.”

It has been almost four months since that happened.

I’ve asked my other sister and our mother what I did, and they’ve responded that they don’t know.

This sister recently traveled to our area and when she was visiting with my mother she wouldn’t allow me, my husband or any of our children to go over to my mother’s house.

My mother allowed her to take this control.

My children were upset that they weren’t allowed to visit their grandmother.

I still have no idea what I did that caused any of this.

My little sister still talks to our two other sisters.

This is really hard for me because I’m 20 years older than this sister and I was like a second mom to her. I did so much for her growing up. Up until recently we were close, or so I thought.

What did I do?

– In the Dark

Dear In the Dark: Insisting on distance when there is discomfort (or conflict) seems to be built in to the basic emotional operating system for some families.

In your family’s case, your mother’s choice to give in to your sister’s control over who visits her own household speaks volumes.

The passive-aggressive silencing technique and avoidance might extend back into previous generations.

You are obviously bugging these younger family members, and my instinct is that if you are substantially older than they are, and if you see yourself as a mother figure to them, you are most likely weighing in on their choices and intruding on social media, where the tone of a comment or reply can easily be misunderstood.

This is – at best – uncool. At worst, it is intrusive and embarrassing.

Your sister has asked for “some space,” and you should respect her request and give her space.

And because your family members are both volatile and avoidant, you should review your own tone on social media and elsewhere and consider doing things differently.

Dear Amy: I know you have been tackling lots of questions about vaccination (and receiving some heat). Honestly, I believe that people have the right to keep their status private. I would never ask about someone’s vaccination choice.

I’m not sure why people feel the need to know about others’ vaccinations.

Your take on this?

– Wondering

Dear Wondering: Like you, I have never asked anyone’s vax status, because I believe the medical evidence, stating that my own vaccination protects me from the more severe aspects of the COVID illness and will help to keep me out of the hospital if I contract the virus.

At a recent event, a person asked me if I was vaccinated. I responded: “Why are you asking?”

Turns out that they were using this more or less as a conversation-starter.

Medically vulnerable people MUST do everything possible to protect their own health, and if that includes asking about vaccination status, they should do so.

But (in my opinion), if you are not medically vulnerable, this is not a conversation starter, but a conversation ender.

Dear Amy: “Trying to Repent” wanted to apologize to his former girlfriend for his abusive behavior during the relationship. Your advice NOT to contact her was well-put.

A woman I dated in the past reached out and apologized for the way she handled things.

I was genuinely upset she messaged me and waited two weeks to respond.

She told me she apologized because she felt “bad” about how she handled things. How self-serving.

A person’s decision to try to grow should not come at the expense of someone else being victimized a second time.

– No Contact

Dear No Contact: Absolutely.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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