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Published November 12 2011

Annie's Mailbox: No need to take sister’s abuse

Dear Annie: Recently, my sister, “Linda,” became furious when a friend of mine politely declined to do an unreasonable favor. Rather than accept no for an answer, she tried to manipulate other people into strong-arming him into changing his mind. When that didn’t work, she caused a scene and stormed out.

While such behavior is typical for her, this particular event happened at the rehearsal dinner the night before her son’s wedding. Linda is so narcissistic that she needs to trump everyone else. If you don’t go along with her, retaliation is swift and heartless. My punishment was her telling me she would no longer participate in her share of care-giving for our mother, who is in poor health and suffering from dementia. That was the last straw for me, and I ended whatever relationship we had.

Linda has no friends (no surprise there), and her husband, while a fine man, does not possess many social graces himself. So here is my dilemma. My wife, friends and therapist tell me that terminating the relationship was the healthiest thing to do. In the back of my mind, however, I wonder what are the responsibilities of a good brother. I don’t want to enable unhealthy behavior, but I wouldn’t abandon Linda if she were mentally ill and couldn’t help herself. She has tried therapy several times over the years, but quits just as she is beginning to show signs of possessing kindness and empathy.

Linda was never much of a sister to me, and frankly, it’s peaceful with her out of my life. I just have this niggling feeling that a brother’s love should be unconditional. Is this an unrealistic notion, or is it a call to be a bigger person? – Uncertain Brother

Dear Brother: Unconditional love does not mean you have to put up with rotten treatment. It means you still love Linda, in spite of her shortcomings, and if she truly needs you, you will be there. But it does sound as if she has some mental health issues, and we hope she will someday be willing to address them.


Dear Annie: This is a new one for me. A friend’s daughter-in-law is expecting her first child. She and her husband will allow the wife’s mother to be at the hospital for the birth of the baby. Then, no one will be permitted to see the child for the first six months. Is this a new childrearing philosophy, or are these parents nuts? – Never Heard of It

Dear Never: This is a new one for us, too. We think the parents are either overprotective, germophobic or are looking to keep certain relatives away from the child and need a good excuse. We think after two months, the parents will be desperate for additional adult contact and some assistance with the baby. But it’s their child, their call.

Dear Annie: Thank you so much for printing the letter from “Confused in My State,” who asked about proper drug disposal. I have spent many hours organizing take-back events for my community over the past couple of years.

I am the director of pharmacy at a rural hospital, and we accept medications on a daily basis. However, current laws prevent anyone except law enforcement from accepting controlled substances, so those drugs have to be returned to the patient. It’s disappointing that I can dispense controlled substances, but can’t take them back. I think those laws need to be changed. Wouldn’t the DEA rather have those drugs in the hands of pharmacists than see them sold on the streets to our children?

The DEA is now hosting take-back programs twice a year, spring and fall. Readers can go to www.DEA.gov to see when and where the events will take place. – Concerned Pharmacist in Michigan


Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net or write to Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.