Feel that my little sister's behavior needs to be addressed

Postby Yugen0611 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:39 pm

Hi all, I'm new here and just wanted some opinions here. I'm 23, I have a half sister who is 13. Her parents aren't bad-persay but I feel like their ignorance in some respects is rearing.

I'll try and summarize as best I can. My sister has failed in school I believe 3 times. Her parents don't take into account how she might be performing. I notice she's grown extremely fixated on her phone. A couple years ago I asked for some help in the kitchen. After waiting a while, I went into her parent's room and she was hiding in the closet, on her phone. I had to yank her out and take it away until she took care of her responsibilities. Over the years I feel like her detachment has gotten worse.

Her dad is typically at work. When they do hang out, he treats her more like a friend. Typically he'll take her shopping, buy her things... Granted I guess this is because he didn't have much time with his first daughters from his last marriage. They also as of a couple months ago work out at the gym almost every night. Her dad also put her in some classes that are supposed to teach her how to walk, act, and put a portfolio so she can become "famous." I've also noticed that she speaks mostly about shopping, what kind of clothes she wants, her obsession with Leonardo Dicaprio... when her friends are over she tends to put down other kids at her school behind their backs. I've pointed this out, in front of her and her friend, and told her that she needs to stop pretending to act like a groupie from "Mean Girls" (she's actually said that she wants to be a mean girl once) and to get her act together and that she does not sound like a pleasant person.

Basically I've been trying to hint to her about her behavior in ways like suggesting she do something besides have her face in a screen 24/7 or that there are more important things than her appearance. "Looking pretty is not always going to pay the bills," as I might call it lol. I just feel like her parent's ignorance and lack of guidance are putting her at a disadvantage. Sure some might write this off as a phase, but all this focus on trivialities and then paired with her fall backs in school... I really worry that she won't get too far if someone doesn't step in to try to help her find herself. I'm just really conflicted because my mom and her dad are blind to this, and then I worry that even if I spend time trying to mentor her that it might not work. She marches around giving even me an attitude, so I'm just wondering if I should seriously take an authoritive stance or just forget about it. I just feel like if she doesn't learn now what's important in life instead of letting the media do all the steering for her that she might fall on her butt too much in the future. Thoughts? Thanks guys
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:12 am

Yugen0611 wrote:I just feel like if she doesn't learn now what's important in life instead of letting the media do all the steering for her that she might fall on her butt too much in the future. Thoughts?

I'm curious, from whom or how do you believe it was that you learned what is important in life? Your father? Your mother did not play a significant role? Did you ever fall on your butt? And if so, how might falling on your butt have helped you become the person you are today?

Your sister has plenty of authority figures in her life, regardless of your personal opinion of their practices raising your sister. If you want her to be raised differently, your role as sister is to then discuss your concerns with those authority figures, i.e. discuss your opinions with the parents.

Frame it another way. If you disagreed with how she was being educated, would you approach her teachers, or would you tell her that on top of those authority figures in her life, you were going to add more lessons, more homework, more authority because you feared she was not learning the right things? Hopefully you would approach the teachers rather than trying to become an additional authority figure.

As you stated, you think she could use help from a mentor. That's perfect. Sisters can be role models and they can be mentors. Role models are good examples that can indirectly influence the behavior of others by displaying correct behaviors and demonstrating what successful behaviors can accomplish. This means not using your cellphone around her, noting things you are enjoying in life as a result of your values, the choices you are making, etc.

A mentor is slightly different. A person must desire a mentor and look up to them. An older sister must be seen as a more knowledgeable other in specific area(s) of interest. If for instance she is struggling in algebra and you received an A in algebra, then she might see you as a more knowledgeable other that can help her. If she thinks you know more about a certain topic, e.g. dating, then she may look to you for guidance. But, if she sees you as lacking in dating ability, then any attempts to mentor her on boys will probably fall on deaf ears. It is like the unemployed parent trying to mentor a child on how to get a job. Mentoring is based on credibility and the opportunities that present themselves, not a general "life coach". I hope that makes sense.

Okay, as I have been typing, I have been reflecting a bit. She is 13. All 13 year olds have things with which they struggle. If you want to mentor her, start by building her trust in discussing issues with you, specifically issues that she is struggling with. Let her identify the issues she wants to work on. No matter how trivial or unimportant in the scope of life they may seem, you become a mentor by helping her resolve the smaller issues. As you help her with those issues, you build credibility and she will then be more willing to come to you with bigger issues that actually are important.

Ultimately, don't be an authority figure, don't try to force your values of what is important on her. Instead, be a role model and a mentor.
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