April 11, 2013 WHAT TO DO WHEN PEOPLE COMPARE YOU TO YOUR SISTER This questions comes from Alice, who writes: I’m eleven years old, and everyone pesters me to be just like my elder sister, Karen. She has everything…self-esteem, sharpness, smartness, coolness, cuteness, perfection, fashion. She even has attitude! All my teachers say, “Your sister always excelled at everything. She always got A+’s, but you have A’s and B’s on your report card.” It’s not only the teachers, but my friends, too! Last week, I was angry with one of my friends because she didn’t invite me to her bowling party. It was on the weekend and she asked if my sister was going to be busy then. When I said yes, she sighed and said she wanted to invite my sister to her party and NOT ME!! Also, people always call, “Hey, my friend’s little sister.” I get so ticked off when people call me that! My parents say that my sister was great. How do I tell them to back off and let ME be ME? My Advice: Hi Alice! When I first read your email, I felt SO annoyed with everyone you wrote about. You’re your own person…people need to stop comparing you to Karen!! Then I realized something…you’re dealing with TWO different issues here. First, there are your teachers and parents. They probably don’t realize just how annoying they’re being. They might even think they’re motivating you by telling you how awesome your sister is. Next, there are your “friends.” I put that in quotes because the one who wanted your sister to come to her party but not you doesn’t really sound like a great friend! That’s like saying, “My birthday party is this weekend! Can you buy me an iPad? No? Hmm, it looks like I invited too many people. See you in school on Monday!” Real friends actually want you around and don’t just use you for stuff! Since this is a super complex issue, I’m going to prescribe you a three-part solution! 1. Realize you are totally awesome, just as you are!! You listed a whole bunch of great things about Karen. What’s great about you? (Hint: A’s and B’s are actually really good grades. I’m PSYCHED when I get either one!) If you feel more confident about yourself, you won’t be as sensitive about comparisons to your sister. 2. Tell your teachers and parents the obvious. I say it’s obvious because I’m only 14 and I know that what they’re doing is kind of messed up, but they probably have no idea how hurtful it is for them to bring up Karen so much! Just tell it to them straight: “Karen’s great at a lot of things, but I’m a different person, and sometimes it bothers me when you compare me to her. Could you help me be my best WITHOUT making it all about her?” 3. Stop hanging out with user friends. Your real friends love hanging out with you and would NEVER imagine having a party without you there. That girl who asked if Karen was busy that weekend, odds are she knew that wasn’t the nicest thing to do. It’s a basic friendship commandment, right next to “Thou shalt not steal your BFF’s crush.” So next time she tries to use you to hang out with your sister, tell her, “I have plans with other friends, but here’s Karen’s number. Why don’t you call her and ask?” She’ll get the hint that you’re not Karen’s secretary AND that you’re worth hanging out with, whether your sister tags along or not. What do you guys think? Do you have any advice for Alice?