How to deal with a sibling with abnormalities

Shefar asks: Hey, Shirelle! I have asked you a question before, so I won’t tell you about me again, but there is one thing you don’t know… I have a sister and she’s abnormal. I mean she’s not crazy, just that not normal like us. But she likes to win everything. She’s older than me, but things have to be fair, right? I mean now I fight with her and I am the one who always got blamed! She starts it and I am the one that’s got to be blamed! My parents really care about her cause she’s not “normal” and they always make me give up the fight… So can you give me any advice to put a stop to this fighting and always losing stuff?! I know it’s kinda complicated but I’ve only got you to tell me what to do.

Hi Shefar –


It would be easier for me to give you a specific answer if I knew what exactly your sister’s Abnormality was.  The way you describe it, though, it sounds like she has some sort of developmental delay, or perhaps some level of Autism.   If so, your frustration is VERY normal, in fact unavoidable.  I’ve known lots of kids in your situation, and it’s never easy.  I will give you some advice, but first I want to give you the good news:  growing up in this situation is going to make you a really great person, and others will be able to see it.


Meanwhile, though, it’s not fair.  That’s the most important thing to grasp.  It’s not fair that she’s got to live with these problems (though she may also have gifts that these “problems” give her, like specific intelligences or just an incredible heart), and it’s absolutely not fair that you have to contend with them.  It’s not fair, it’s not fair, and it’s not fair!  Other kids have siblings who they can compete with, and beat up, and get beaten up by, and scream at – all in ways you aren’t allowed to do.  You are Right to be bothered by this, absolutely.


But once you acknowledge that (and you might have to deal with that feeling often – like at least once a day!), then your job is to step back and realize that your situation is odd, but not that awful.  Your sister really is different – so it’s annoying that you can’t play a game with her and win, but that just means you need to find other friends to really compete with.  If she has tantrums, you just need to find ways to deal with them (like either helping her calm down or going off alone while your parents deal with her).  If she messes with your stuff, you just need to have a good talk with your parents about how to get your stuff back.


I like to talk on here a lot about what an awful puppy I was (partly because it brings back really funny memories).  I bit and tore everything I could, for a couple of years – I really made Handsome’s life difficult!  But he got through it, and loved me for my good qualities while dealing with the bad ones.  The difference between what he went through and what you’re going through, of course, is that he knew I’d grow out of that puppy phase.  And you might not know if your sister will ever really change.  This might be the way she’ll always be.


And here’s the strangest thing I can tell you, Shefar.  You probably won’t understand it now, and you might not even believe me, but it’s true.  If you can learn to deal with her difficulties, the day will come when you love her more for them.  And as life moves on, and everyone changes, you’ll even come to value the fact that she stays the same.  I’m betting the day will come when you love playing a game with her and making yourself lose, because it will feel like home, like family, like love.  And you’ll wish there was something you could do with your old friends, your parents, other family members, that felt as familiar as what you do with her.


But for now, it’s work.  And just as I said above, your job is to acknowledge it, to express your frustration, to feel how annoying it all is – and to then find the strength to tolerate it.  Because this is building your sense of tolerance, of acceptance, of empathy, and even of love.  And it’s those things that, as I said before, will make you such a great person, and someone who others see as great.


Thanks for telling me about it, and good luck with her!




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