Monday, October 25, 2021

Need Help to Handle Issue


Dear Coach,

My sister is drinking too much and it’s often uncomfortable to be around her. Thankfully, she lives out of town so I only see her for short periods. She becomes angry and defensive when I talk to her about her drinking. I’m worried about her, her young child, and her marriage. Her husband also drinks and their relationship is strained. Other members of our family are aware of the situation but choose not to take action. She’s planning to visit me this summer and I’m already losing sleep over this issue and how to handle it. Please help!

Sleepless in SW Florida

Dear Sleepless,

I’m sure you’ve hit a nerve for many readers as this is a common dilemma in families. I understand that you are not only concerned about your own discomfort during her visit but also the well-being of your sister and her family. Letting her know that you’re coming from a place of caring will be critical as you tackle this situation.

Here are a few tips:

  1. If you decide to talk to her about the drinking, plan what you’re going to say ahead of time. Planning will help you can stay calm and not come from a place of anger or judgement.
  2. Pick a good time to talk. Don’t talk while she’s drinking or the morning after. Find a time when you can be alone with your sister.
  3. Avoid blaming or accusing her. Talk about your concern for her well-being. Talk about your feelings and worries. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. “I’m worried about you. How are things going?”
  4. Use specific examples of troublesome behavior like, “I’m sorry you slept through that great show last night. I missed having the chance to talk with you about it.”
  5. Prepare for resistance to any mention of her behavior or drinking. You’ve experienced this before and you’ll probably experience it again. Not accepting that she has a problem is a common response.
  6. Don’t push the issue but don’t give up either. If the problem continues, talk with her the next time you’re together. Also, don’t give up on enlisting your family for their help.
  7. Don’t let this issue consume you. I’m concerned that you’re losing sleep over this. Get help for yourself if you need it.

As a retired Certified Personal/Professional Coach, I’m delighted to bring my years of life coaching experience to Coastal Breeze News readers. I’m currently writing a self-help book, “Mom’s Gone, Now What?” and invite you to follow me at More than mother loss, the blog addresses how to live a healthy, joy-filled life.

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