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How do I talk to my sister?

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  • How do I talk to my sister?

    My sister lives in a small apartment with 6 large dogs, 3 cats, and a variety of other small pets. Her apartment smells of urine. The cats walk on the counters where food is prepared. There is a gun that is not stored properly. I avoid taking my family (including two young children) there to visit and it has caused a lot of hurt feelings. I am not sure how to approach a conversation with her about this as she gets defensive when others have mentioned these things. I don't want to hurt my sister but I also don't want to compromise the safety of my family. I would appreciate any advice on how to deal with this.

  • #2
    The best way is to be straightforward about what YOU will do. You do not demand that she do anything.

    So the first thing you do is never initiate a visit to her place. The only time you would have to say anything is when she invites you and your family over. Then you would say,

    "... We would be happy to when we feel it is safe to do so...."

    When she asks what you mean by safe, you say...

    "... When we believe we won't be overwhelmed by the animal odor and there are no firearms accessible to the children..."

    You could follow up with an invitation for her to come to your home or spend some time with her at the park (dog park if you like).

    If she is going to try to guilt you with hurt feelings, you say...

    "....Sis, we love you and enjoy spending time with you, but we are just not comfortable in your home...."

    Don't get into an argument. If she cannot face the reality of her unsanitary living conditions there is nothing you can do about that UNLESS you believe she is mentally ill. In which case, you can talk to her about whether she is happy with her live or would she like to make a change.

    Good luck

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