Tired of Family Fights

By Amy Dickinson | May 31st, 2024

After decades of drama, one sibling has had enough

three women fighting, by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz. Tired of Family Fights

The family drama from childhood continues decades later. “Frustrated and Sad” is tired of family fights and needs an out. See what Ask Amy advises.

Dear Amy:

I am in my early 60s. I have three older siblings.

I grew up in a house with a lot of arguing and fighting involving my sister, brother, and parents. I dreaded dinnertime. I couldn’t wait to get out on my own, but still hated getting together.

Fast-forward to the past several years where at extended family gatherings my brother and sister feel the need to dominate every conversation with inane comments.

My aunt once said of my sister: “She literally never shuts up.”

Interactions that start out as conversations end up in arguments.

What I need help with is that I can longer stand to be at these gatherings with my brother and sister. Sometimes I fake an illness to get out of these events. I made up an excuse to get out of a recent gathering at my brother’s house, and my brother gave me a guilt trip anyway, saying that I don’t want to be with family.

He’s not wrong, but I don’t want to admit it. I need help dealing with this.

– Frustrated and Sad

Dear Frustrated:

The youngest sibling in any family tends to witness a lot. This can lead to a tendency toward peace-making, people-pleasing, or – in your case – a lot of anxiety.

I urge you to find ways to recognize that your feelings and reactions are completely valid.

If faking an illness or making up an excuse helped you to keep your distance from these overwhelming family gatherings, then I’d say to keep doing it – but you also make yourself available for an all-expenses-paid guilt trip.

You are in your 60s. Perhaps it’s time for you to actually state your feelings, in an honest and non-confrontational way.

Your brother accuses you: “You don’t want to be with family!” You respond, “That’s true, because I feel anxious and upset when people bicker.”

If you do decide to attend, always give yourself an escape hatch.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from someone who is tired of family drama to DNA surprises. 

Dickinson is retiring from her column, but readers can still reach out to her at askamy@amydickinson.com or follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook. 

©2024 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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