Troubled Little Sister...

by Angel
(Wildomar CA)

My little sister is 14 and is, very rebellious, defiant, mean and all around a nasty girl, I am 20 and I just could never imagine treating our mother the way she does, it started after her father and our mom got divorced, what are some things I can do to help her realize her actions are hurtful and will not get her anywhere any time soon?

Ben's Answer:

I don't know how long ago the divorce occurred, but this is a pretty common reaction. Obviously she's hurt and angry about it - and is expressing it in destructive, hurtful ways. As her sister, you're in a unique position to be a positive influence in her life. Only a sibling can really understand what it's like to grow up in your family. But even with that kinship - 6 yrs apart is a big gap. And 2 siblings in a family can have very different feelings and experiences and perceptions of the family.

If she has any openness or respect for you, then you might have a chance to help her. Just don't take a strong parental/adult role with her. Be her friend and ally. She's barely an adolescent and you're an adult. She probably needs to feel respected and liked by you, and doesn't want to be patronized. Maybe she's jealous of the years you had with your parents before they got divorced.

If she's willing to talk to you, then try to give her space to talk about her feelings; avoid lecturing, judging or giving too much advice, unless she asks for it, or is willing to hear it.
The most important thing is for her to express her honest feelings, and for you to listen and understand.

Best wishes,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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