Ask Kari: How can I prevent myself from giving in to my brother’s holiday season bullying?

Dear Kari,

I have a hang over from the holiday season, as my brother demanded yet again that all our family members come to his house for Christmas Eve dinner. We don’t hear from him for most of the year until early November when he sends us an email invite (a.k.a demand) that we drive three hours to his home on Christmas Eve for dinner. He got nasty this year, telling us that “we needed to attend the dinner or else”. We did, but now I am mad at myself for giving into his demands and bullying behavior. How can I prevent this in the future?

Fed Up Sibling

Dear Fed-Up Sibling,

Family dynamics certainly spike during the holidays, and it seems your brother takes it to a new level by demanding that you and your family members come to his home for the holiday. It sounds like he is both immature and selfish to believe that he can rule the family calendar in this manner. I recommend that you politely decline the invitation moving forward if you so choose and continue with your preferred plans without looking back. You are not responsible for your brother’s temperament. If he choses to demand people follow his requests, he will be the one who isolates himself from his family members who no longer want to engage with him.


As published in the January 2016 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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