Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I recently wrote in to you about my twin sister, “Bethany,” requesting that I be her maid of honor at the exclusion of our other sister, “Emily.” As you suggested, I spoke to Bethany about the cruel ways we used to reject Emily in the past. I told her I appreciated the spirit of her invitation but would feel just as special if she wanted to bill us both as maids of honor.
Her answer: “Don’t worry about it. Emily will understand. And if she doesn’t, it’s my wedding anyway, so I’ll take the heat.” Somewhat less callously put than that, but you get the idea.
I feel I’ve done all I can do. It is Bethany’s wedding, and not my place to insist. I’m sure Emily and I will collaborate on some things anyway.
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Morally, though, am I in the clear? I’m very conflicted on whether to address this upfront with Emily. (I do think she will care.)
Your sister, I hate to say, is a doink — or just plays one in this wedding.
I can advise talks with each sister, but I can’t clear your conscience. You have to do what you think is right.
Toward that end, I strongly urge keeping Bethany and Emily in your mind, privately, as equals in sisterhood, and approach all family-related choices and events (i.e. not just this wedding) with that as your starting point. Bethany might be right about her prerogative, but she’s all kinds of wrong on love, family, generosity and everything else that counts.
Dear Carolyn: Any suggestions for getting through the times (undoubtedly temporary) when I feel like I love one kid SO much more than the other? The fight feels futile when I try to keep things even and equal.
Try to do something one-on-one with the less compatible one, specifically something that brings out that child’s best. You won’t be able to do this forever, so use this time to promote the bond and create a foundation for warm feelings, as well as important memories.
Re: Anonymous: Trust me, you do not have to keep things even and equal, just INDIVIDUAL. My folks went overboard to split things right down the middle, even though we are two different people with different situations. Now they can claim they treated us equally. All I feel, though, is a feeling of never being seen by them as JUST ME.
A valuable public-service announcement, thanks.
Re: Anonymous: This made me laugh because when I, a girl, was a preteen I desperately wanted my own phone in my room (in the dark ages before cellphones). My mom felt she couldn’t give me a phone because my older brother didn’t have one. Never mind that he didn’t want one, he got one for Christmas so my mom later could be “fair” and give me one for my birthday. I won’t ever forget watching my brother unwrap the phone I asked for and just shrug.
Perfect, thanks. At least they meant well.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.