On little sister.

Dear Coquette,

My younger sister just called me today and said she’s getting married tomorrow. She’s only 18, works at Wal-Mart (so does the guy she’s marrying). She isn’t making any effort to go to college, has never lived on her own, and she’s known this guy for six months. They have no place to live other than my grandparents’, and they don’t make enough money to pay for rent in even the cheapest places around. She says she knows he’s “the one” and doesn’t want to live with him first because our grandparents are very religious and wouldn’t like it (yet she doesn’t even believe in God).

I told her these facts (while trying the best I could not to sound judgmental) and she screamed back, “I thought you would be supportive! You don’t love me! You don’t care about anyone but yourself! We know what we’re doing so forget you!” and then she hung up. I’m really worried about her. She’s a talented musician and I feel like she’s throwing her life away. I’m also hurt that she would get married while I’m on the other side of the country and can’t be there, and that she can so easily assume I don’t love her just because I’m trying to look out for her. I don’t know what to do. I know she has to live her life and make her own decisions, but it’s hard for me to accept that completely when I’ve practically raised her for years.

Slow your roll, Mama Bear. I know you feel like your little sister is throwing her life away, but you can’t tell her that, because right now your little sister feels like she’s finally starting her life.

Problem is, both of you are right.

In other words, you have to back off and let her screw this one up on her own. I’m not saying you have to support her decision. I’m just saying you have to recognize that it’s her decision to make.

Disapprove all you want, but try not to be disrespectful, even in the face of her disrespect. It’s a fine line, especially considering your relationship has a distinct mother/daughter vibe. Just remember, she’s the teenager. You’re the adult.

Tread lightly. Every time you tell your little sister that she’s throwing her life away, you’re just confirming what she already thinks everyone believes: that she’s trash.

Let’s be honest: She’s a teenage Wal-Mart bride. She’s a trailer park and a broken condom away from being a Jeff Foxworthy punchline. You don’t think she feels that? Of course she does. She’s keenly aware of your disapproval about her life decisions, and like all rebellious teenagers, she’s gonna lash out. As a mother figure, naturally, you’re going to catch the brunt of it.

Also, do not doubt for one second that she’s head-over-heels in love. That kind of thing is blinding when it happens to level-headed adults, so try to imagine it from the perspective of someone barely old enough to buy cigarettes.

The last six months have been the happiest of your sister’s entire life. Does that mean she should’ve gotten married? Of course not, but there’s nothing you’re gonna say to convince her otherwise. She’s love-stoned. All you can do is ride it out and pray that she doesn’t end up pregnant before the inevitable divorce.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *