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Sister pulls a family power play

Q: My sister brought a lawsuit against my half-sister over a bad investment. It’s not a lot of money, and my husband and I have offered to pay my sister to make this go away. She refuses to relent. The situation is so convoluted that I don’t necessarily think she’s in the right. But our children are close, and she’s threatened to cut contact if I don’t back her.

A: Your sister is attempting to coerce you into supporting something you don’t think is right, and threatening to use children as pawns to get her way.

That’s a big ol’ sandwich of wrong. You’ve tried to help solve the problem, but her desire to be “right” overrides how she values family relationships. Going along with this will only make her more of a despot, and it will force you to publicly support something that you don’t agree with. Hopefully it’s a bluff – call her on it. “You know how much I value the relationship that our families and children have. If you want to tear those apart so that you can ‘win’ over something like this, that’s your right. But I’ll never agree it was the right thing to do.”

Q: We moved six months ago and really like our new house and slightly easier commute. But I don’t feel like I’ve adjusted, and I wonder if we made the wrong choice. We still don’t know many of our neighbors, it’s noisy at night, there aren’t as many kids as we thought (and we hope to start a family soon). My husband thinks I just need time.

A: Your husband is right (in part) about time: It can help. But that doesn’t mean it will turn the move into the right choice.

You’ve got to get specific about what feels missing, how much those things matter to you, and whether there’s anything you can do about it. Knock on neighbors’ doors. Seek out – or start – a community listserv. Take more walks just to look around; pet people’s dogs.

Dig deep to learn more about yourself, too. How are you, typically, with transitions? Do you always need a while to adjust? Were there concerns about the decision to move that you swallowed, and now they’re bubbling up? The year mark is a good point to sit down with your list, together, and do a reality check.

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