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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stuck in the Middle with You

I’ve become an old man. Or at least, I’ve started thinking and acting like one. Maybe that’s natural; when you start working I guess you instinctively feel like you ought to be more responsible. What I’ve found is that I am vastly more uptight and conscious about how others will feel than most people my age. It has resulted in me being stuck in a weird place between my parents and my younger sister.

I think my parents treat me like an adult but don’t yet treat my sister the same way. I don’t know whether this is to do with age, gender, life-stage or what. But as a result, I’ve got one foot in each camp: trying to be a both a stoic, responsible adult and a carefree, fun young person is tough.  I don’t know if all older siblings feel this way.

What happens is that in trying to be “everyone’s friend” I am neither a kid nor a grown up. I don’t intentionally test boundaries or challenge authority or have fun for no reason like I did when I was at high school or university. Like my sister does now. At the same time, I cannot hang out with my parents all the time as my views and interests are very different.

When we come together as a family I find myself trying to be this bridge between them and her. This is a weird position to be in because I instinctively defend her if they decide to pull her leg or discipline her. Perhaps it’s not my place to interfere at all. But then when she’s out of line and there’s full-fledged conflict, I find myself “taking my parents' side" and trying to explain their logic to her. This makes things worse. As someone who has been there before, I try to get her to see their point of view but often I guess she wants a friend rather than an older brother/guest-lecturer.

My personality type is that of the peace-maker and so my tendency is to try and mediate. I guess I could use my “unique position” to try and get both sides to recognise the similarities they share with me and then through me, see the other side’s point of view.

I find myself lecturing my sister like I’m our dad and I don’t know what to make of it. 

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