I really want a better relationship with my sister, but she has become increasingly cold in the last few years. Our conversations are short, and she comes to visit less and less. We are a family of high performance siblings who inherited the business from our Dad. He made it clear from the very beginning we were to run it without “Susie’s” input. She has been the free spirit of all of us, and my Dad had always treated her with less respect than the rest of us. Regardless, I have tried to maintain a good relationship with her, and we are now losing each other. Is this a solvable problem?
I’m always a little amazed that parents don’t realize that when they show favoritism (or worse, contempt for a child), they deeply sow the seeds of discontent for the children between themselves. I know that different parents have different styles and priorities, but it’s hard to figure out what goes on in the mind of a parent who teaches their children to dislike each other. Perhaps it’s born from selfishness: “I want this business to succeed, and I don’t care who gets hurt”. Perhaps a narcissistic parent: “This is what I want, and my needs are the only thing that matters”. Maybe it’s just plain stupidity. I don’t know. But what I do know is that it takes a nearly superhuman effort from the wise sibling to help maintain a good relationship with Daddy’s black sheep sibling. Occasional “different” communication, such as a nice postcard, coupled with calls to check up on your siblings’ kids, etc. is a good start.
Secondly, privately including your sib in eliciting their opinion on business matters might be beneficial to the both of y’all. You don’t have to advertise you are soliciting your sibling’s business opinion, just do it, and consider it. Sometimes a “free spirit” perspective is worthy of serious consideration. Finally, remember, it took your Dad a number of years to poison the family, and thus, it may take a number of years to administer the anti venom.