ricca asks: Today my sister and I were having a big war, and we’re still not settled down. What should I do?
Hi Ricca –
Thanks for your question about your fight with your sister.
Of course, I have no idea what your fight was over, or who was right or wrong. But in the end, that really doesn’t matter anyway, does it? What’s bothering you is that your fight is continuing, and that you need a way to resolve it.
Now if that’s only your feeling, and not your sister’s, that’s your first problem. Somehow, you need to convince her to work with you to move past the fight. I usually find that the best way to get that going is to find some part, any part, of the fight that you can acknowledge was your fault. Or where you were wrong. Let’s say the fight was because she set your bed on fire by accident. Now you’re not about to say that was okay, but maybe you could acknowledge that if you had made your bed, the sheets wouldn’t have been touching the floor, where the gasoline she spilled could reach them! (Don’t ask me how she got gasoline into your room or how it got lit – this dog’s imagination only goes so far!!)
You see, I find that most fights keep going because both people feel the other one isn’t hearing or acknowledging their side of the argument. So if you can see just a tiny part of her side, and offer that up to her, then there’s a lot better chance she’ll be willing to try to resolve things with you (like by explaining the gasoline in the bedroom thing!).
But that only gets you to where both of you acknowledge you want to fix things. Once that’s there, the next step is to sit down calmly and go over the real disagreements. And for each of you to acknowledge the way the other feels (whether you agree with it or not). “I know it bothered you that I got a better grade on my spelling test than you did, even though we studied together.” “I know you felt it was unfair that I was hanging out at recess with Joanie.” Note again, it doesn’t matter whether you agree that it was unfair or not, just that you’re showing that you hear her feelings.
Then it’s best for each of you to say how you’re feeling about the fight. “I hate that we fought, I always hate when we disagree.” “Your friendship matters more to me than any silly old bed.” Etc.
And then comes what we always expect to be the hardest part, but often is the easiest. To say what we’re willing to change in the future. “I’ll tell Joanie we can play, but only if you can come along.” “I’ll leave the gasoline in the garage.”
At that point, the fight is truly over. And you two can be closer than you were before.
But what if you still disagree on something, so badly that it simply can’t be resolved. “You have to drop Joanie as a friend.” “No way, I love Joanie, and it’s not fair of you to ask that.” Then you want to try to compromise. “I’ll hang out with Joanie only when you’re not around.” Or “I’ll wait and see if Joanie’s as bad as I think she is; if she is, you’ll owe me a movie.” Something where you two can get back to what you do best – being sisters and there for each other.
I hope that helps, Ricca. Sisters are great, and definitely worth keeping! Especially since you humans usually only get one at a time!