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How do I deal with the anger when my sister gets onto to me for telling my mother to put her seat belt on while traveling down the highway? My sister told me to stop telling our mother what to do. My sister got onto me and raised her voice to me. I was only looking out for my mother's well being. My mother lives with me and my husband. Help!

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There's a great scene in "Still Alice," a novel about a woman with early onset dementia, when she keeps asking what time they have to leave. Her three kids each has a different response. One tries to "teach" her the time they are leaving. One tells her not to worry because someone else is going to take care of the problem. The third says, "Mom can ask as often as she likes, and I will answer every time."

None of them are "right." It would be wrong for one to criticize the others.

I wonder why she thought you were wrong? Is it that "Mother should be respected?"

My father's reason for refusing a seatbelt was that he didn't care if he died. I told him, "Daddy, at high speed you would be killed in a crash. But at low speed, around town, you would survive with painful injuries. When we get on the highway, you can take it off, but you have to put it on now." He grumbled but complied. Somehow, he never remembered to take it off on the highway.

Another reason for her to be buckled in is if she is likely to get confused and try to open the door. The driver needs to be able to drive without interference.

If you can decide to be curious about what your sister is thinking, it might be easier to stay calm. If she actually made a scene, it is absolutely about her, and not about you. To take the high road and to win (without rubbing her face in it,) you want to be calm.
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Everyone in my car wears a seatbelt. Mother was a little reluctant at first. Someone in the family must have told her it is the law (it is) and that we don't want to have to pay a fine. Laws and money she respects! So when I remind her to put on her seatbelt she says, "Oh yeah, we don't want a fine." Now I just fasten the belt each time I help her in, as do her other 6 children.

But you know that wearing a seatbelt is right. The issues here are 1) is it right to tell your mother she has to wear a seatbelt in your car? and 2) how do you respond to a sister who criticizes your caregiving behaviors?

I'd say 1) Yes. It is right to remind you mother what is expected of her. It is right to tell anyone who rides in your car what your rules are ... such as no smoking, buckling up, no music except with headphones, or whatever your rules are.

2) Listen attentively to what your sister has to say. Answer her calmly. If she has good ideas, acknowledge them. If you disagree, say that calmly. Say things like, "Thanks. That is an angle I hadn't considered. I'll give it some thought." or "You may be right, but I have to do the best job I can according to my own perspectives," or "You sure can do it your way when Mom is with you. I need to do what I think is best for her when she is with me."

I'll bet that "stay calm" advice is MUCH easier to type than to do! In this particular case, try not to give Sis the power to make you angry. She is angry. She is wrong. So what? You can continue to do the right thing.

Do you suppose she is feeling guilty that you are the main caregiver, and that is what is behind her criticism? Do the two of you have the kind of relationshp where you could go out and level with each other over a pizza?
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You tell your sister that when you want her opinions about something you'll ask, and until such a time to shut the hell up unless SHE wants the job!
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You were right, sister was wrong. Wasn't sister wearing her seatbelt herself? This probably wasn't the first time she criticized you about mom, and surely won't be the last. Can you have a discussion with her when mom isn't around? If not, or if it won't do any good you need to plan your responses to the criticisms. How do you want to represent yourself to her, to yourself, to others? What will help you keep your sanity, self respect, and hopefully some change on her part? Knowing that conflict is likely to happen again just prepare yourself so you don't blow up. React the way you want to, and think about that ahead of time. Good Luck.
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I applaud you for making your mom wear a seatbelt! It is the safe thing to do! Did you explain to your sister that by mom wearing a seatbelt she is better protected if there is an accident? I always make sure my mom (who lives with me) puts her seatbelt on. Seatbelts save lives........you were 100% right!
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