My sister does not deserve the raging abuse by my mother!

Started by

My sister is a wonderful person, but my mother rarely included my sister in her life. Now that my mother is elderly she has decided she needs her because I refuse to be a doormat to my mothers demanding neediness. My sister is over joyed at the prospect she can finally be part of my mother's lfe and help her. The problem is my mother rages at my sister when she gets frustrated with her help. My sister can be overwhelming, but it is because she so much wants to help my mother and be an important part of her life. My heart goes out to my sister because I know my mother is only using my sister because I stopped allowing my mother to use me. I was my mother's preference for help and my sister secondary. I stopped because I refused to be the target of my mother's rage. My sister says nothing when being treated so horribly, she is so desperate for my mothers approval. I have talked to my mother about this and realizes what she is doing to my sister, but still it continues. There is another sister, but she is the golden child and is showered with gifts and admiration while doing very little. My sister is a kind hearted caring person and should not be subjected to the rage my mother inflicts on her, I know it hurts her. I have tried to talk to my sister about not tolerating this, but she would rather take the verbal abuse than lose any involvement with my mother. I have been put in the middle of my mother's rages towards my sister and it took extreme restraint not to retaliate against my mother to put her in her place. My sister is so desperate for my mother's love, she is willing to accept anything for it. My mother does not have dementia, just a selfish need to use people she can with little regard for thier feelings.


This would be very hard for me too. Bottom line is you can't change your sister or your mother. I think the best you can do is offer your sister a loving presence if she wants to vent or finally come to her senses to set some boundaries with your mother. Or do more for your mom and refuse to take her crap, so that your sister doesn't have to. But it sounds like your sister is determined to get as close to your mom as she can, so I don't know that it will make a difference. Also see if you can get your sister into counseling, so that she can learn how to set limits with your mom and learn how to value herself so that she's not looking for approval from your mom.
Im sorry but your sister needs to see a professional this is abuse and if your sister is accepting it then she has issues she shouldnt have to put up with this JUST to get mums approval if your mum dosnt have dementia then shes just nasty I would suggest that your sister sees a counsellor and soon. You seem to be stronger than your sister try and get her to see someone even if she says she dosnt mind???? the longterm effect on her could destroy her confidence.
This is what you call a co-dependent relationship. It's funny how one child can stave off the ugly remarks just by walking away, and the less confident child will stay and take the abuse. It doesn't rid them of guilt like they hope it will, it deepens the grief at the very end. Assure her that if she just says " I am not going to buy into your anger. I'll come back when you feel better" and leaves, the situation will clear up quickly. Also go with your mother to the MD and see if he can prescribe something for mom's anxiety.
It is very kind of you to be concerned about your sister. You can see what is going on more objectively than she can. But this is your sister's issue, and she really has to handle it herself. Suggesting counseling would be a kindness, if she can acknowledge that something is very wrong. As long as she is ready to excuse the abuse, there is little you can do.

Continue to be kind to your sister, and be there for her if/when she acknowledges the need for change.
Is your sister married, does she have a "significant other"?
Unfortunately, this is something your sister has to learn the old fashioned way, she does not get it and will not until she really sees it for herself. Sounds like a lifetime of looking for approval and what you say is going to fall on deaf ears, this is for her and perhaps if she is willing, and she may be after enough pain, she will seek some help to entangle years and years of dysfunction. Try to detach yourself and don't get drawn back into the drama.
My sister is married, but her husband is in a group home with mild dementia. My sister is in therapy due to growing up always being belittled by our father and our mother being indifferent towards her. My father could not accept my sister, the first born, on not being a boy. My mother never intervened on my sister's behalf. I am glad she had our grandparents who adored her, first born grandchild on both sides. I want my sister to have this relationship with my mother she never had. I just don't want to see her hurt in her quest to help a mother who in the past has been indifferent towards her.
pstiegman briefly spoke something very wise, that taking abuse while hoping for a breakthrough in love and acceptance "doesn't rid them of guilt like they hope it will, it deepens the grief at the very end." Amen. In a famous psychological experiment, baby monkeys had either a wire "mother" or a wire mother wrapped in soft towels to rush to and cling to when they were frightened. Of course, the soft wrapped mother was preferred. Until the soft-wrapped mother "blasted" the clinging baby with air. Guess what? The baby monkeys then actually changed their nature and preferred the cold wire mother, known as the "air blast mother." I may have the details of this experiment not entirely accurate, but anyone from an abusive background knows that abuse only tightens the trying and bondage unless you can walk away. And how do we walk away with love? Still learning here. I honestly am more willing to die than to walk away. Trying to figure logistics, because the caring, moral side of me cannot just walk away. But my family issues are so complex I haven't even figured how to write about them here to put them in the light of day. I have to agree with everyone who has responded to you. I suspect your sister is in a daze of fears and cannot snap out of it. Showing your love to her is important, perhaps also baby steps showing her how you came through with clarity. I try to fantasize that there is a presence somewhere that says to me, "You deserve to walk this earth to, and as a proxy for the better side of humans, you have to resist the pull to your grave and snuffing of your spirit." Be logical, or if you can't, what would a logical person say and do? If your pastor or favorite teacher were lurking and watching, what would they see? Your sister's self-negation was injected long ago, and maybe can never 100% be overcome, but somewhere she must see a little light? If she could only imagine a witness when you are not around, maybe she could concentrate on what that witness would observe. She probably can't do it for herself, but if another "witness" is there, maybe she can perform (i.e., stand up for herself) for them, and the performance eventually become more habit. I know, I know, that is advice coming from one who uses a lot of psychological devices to try to be objective and fair. Lord knows I can't do it on my own, for myself. How lucky your sister is to have such an insightful, caring sister. That means you are carrying worries and weight beyond the obvious. I am glad there are people like you!
It sounds like everyone agrees with the situation but you.
First of all, thanks for being such a loving sister! Thank goodness your sister and your mom have you! Not many of us have siblings that care as much as you. You are strong enough to leave your mom's abuse and that is commendable! I agree with Blennie. Be there for your sister when she needs to vent. Give her lots of praise and respect and positive reinforcement. Give her specific advice on setting boundaries. One little thing at a time and help her with the one thing repeatedly till sis has a strong stand on the one thing then go to another specific point where a boundary can/must be set. Blennie also suggested doing more for your mother. Really you would be doing it for your sister. If you can be your sister's respite for regular periods of time on a regular basis so your sister can get away into more positive situations. And as Blennie says if sis sees you not taking moms crap maybe she can learn to be more like you. If you can get your sister into counseling and you are there to care for your mom during that time it would probably be great for your sister. We all need counseling, I am seeking it for myself because I had to stop when I moved to my mom's town to help with her care. I'm going crazy doing this, aren't all us caregivers at risk of this? I'm assuming that since you were helping your mom before that you still have the time to do these things now. I would see it as being your sister's caregiver. You can't do it for your mom but maybe you could subject yourself to mom's abuse as a way to help save your sister's life and sanity. Again thanks for being a real sister. I would give a lot to have my sister care about me as much as you care about your sister!

Keep the conversation going (or start a new one)

Please enter your Comment

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support