Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist who writes in the New York Times, has written a piece that faces a truth we would prefer to deny: Some kids are just difficult, and they grow up to be adults who aren't nice at all (http://bit.ly/dyLwCy). This struck a chord with me, because in response to my articles about how to improve relationships with siblings, I have been getting mail from people who have endured years of mistreatment from brothers and sisters. They are fed up, and ready to give up.
I realized, reading these letters and thinking about the Friedman piece, that miserable people also come from families and probably have brothers and sisters whom they aren't so nice to. The people who are writing to me in desperation may be their relatives. So here are some tips about how to think about breaking off with terrible siblings.
1. Cruel behavior isn't acceptable, and nobody should suffer from verbal or emotional abuse.
2. Men and women who have made bad choices sometimes believe that they can come to their siblings to bail them out, all their lives. This is not necessarily the job of a brother or sister.
3. If a sibling has rebuffed all of your genuine efforts to reconnect, it may be time to take the hint.