Dear Marcie,

My problem is a family issue. My sister and I always seem to bump heads on even the most mundane things. I do wrong no matter the situation. Most frequently, especially lately, I'm accused of not including her in family functions and gatherings. While this is not the case, she insists that it is. More often than I'd like, I have to be the one to try and make amends with her when I have done nothing wrong?? Nothing I do seems to work. What do you suggest I do? I'm out of ideas.

Family Feud

Dearest Family,

Blood may be thicker than water, but it's a lot stickier too. Anyone who's made it through the holidays with extended family knows we can't pick our family, but we can certainly make the best of it. I sympathize with the burden you feel trying to hold your sister close and to include her despite the way she treats you. Dealing with your sister sounds like trying to hold your cat down while the vet takes its temperature. It's admirable that you've continued to try to make amends to keep the peace. I'm sure after each outreach you've hoped that you've at least done as much as any character in an episode of "Who's the Boss" to earn yourself peace until the next episode. But real families have a wide array of personalities with endless issues, whether you're dealing with the know-it-all, perpetually spoiled or rebel-without-a-cause in the family.

Your sister comes from the Grumpy line of dwarves. Something has been brewing an unwarranted aggression inside of her. Perhaps she is unwittingly reeling in that sisterly bond (that has been lost or suppressed) and counting on it to get your attention on whatever insecurities she's got festering, whether emotional, physical, or other. Any number of things could be triggering her downward spiral of conduct. So I suggest this: listen. Listening can be profound, making it a key element to comfort all Individuals who feel like they aren't being heard enough or at all. A little "one-on-one" may prevent any more doors from closing, allowing her to get closer when she's ready. Be persistent. The continuous reassurance of her "role" in the family, may not only encourage her growth as a part of the family, but strengthen her individual growth and end the anxiety-ridden cycle. You may also think about switching roles and letting her plan an outing or two. In the end there's only so much you can do. Ultimately the choice will be hers.