Is it a sin to stop seeing my sister and her family?


I’m married with three kids aged 8, 5 and 1. She’s also married with two kids, aged 10 and 7. When she married her husband they moved about 80 miles away.
Anyway, to keep this brief… I don’t really like my sister. Yes I love her, she is my sister, but I don’t like her. When we were growing up (she is 4 years older than me) she was very mean to me. I personally think she dealt with her own insecurities and problems by taking her frustration out on me and exercising the power she had over me as the elder sibling. She didn’t seriously harm me in any way… But she was often very cruel and spiteful, often in a very unnecessary way for her own amusement. For example I don’t ever recall her defending me from any harm or really looking out for me to make sure I was ok in any way at all. She relished seeing me struggle and would often make things worse for me. I wasn’t blameless of course, i would often retaliate… But I’m generally peaceful in nature, normally retaliating when I felt under attack.
These days we rarely see her and her family, perhaps once or twice a year at most. When we meet up, it’s normally for one of two reasons. Firstly, if my wife has made an effort to organise something (our kids get on really well with their cousins and love seeing them). My wife is much more tolerant to my sister than I am and even though she finds her to be quite selfish, she will normally bend over backwards for ‘the greater good’ of the family (especially the kids).
The other reason is that my parents who are in their late 60’s/early 70’s will from time to time organise a meet up, whether it’s for one of their birthdays or some other event. They always say that the best gift they can possibly have is to see their children and their grand kids all together.
Now, a lot of water has gone under the bridge and it’s unnecessary to recite the in’s and out’s. But let me generalise by saying that from my point of view, past meetings have always seemed to happen only because I will back down on whatever the sticking point is (ie. we will accommodate their other commitments, but they won’t accommodate ours etc etc). Having said that, I’m certain my sister will have a different opinion. The latest event is for my mum’s 65th and I’m backing down and changing some plans I have as I’m told it’s the only weekend my sister can make. I’ll be there and I’ll put on a smile and give my mum the birthday present she wants. I’ve prayed for Jesus to help me forgive my sister and I think I have… The issue is that when it boils down to it I just don’t like her and I don’t want to have to go through this infuriating process of backing down to accommodate their awkwardness every time. I don’t wish her any ill will at all but I would just rather not have to see them. My wife has become so annoyed with what has taken place in this latest incident that she is now at the point where she doesn’t want to have to deal with this anymore either and is fed up of biting her tongue, so we will both be going to this celebration begrudgingly, just for mum and dad.
My question is - would it be sinful for me to stop making these efforts and not see her?


I don’t see how it would be sinful and even if it was it would surely be a venial sin since lack of love is involved.

I have a family and I came from a family whereby I had two older sisters one of which was indifferent and could be quite aggressive. I would say that I have found that people mellow over the years and though you might not want to have a close relationship with your sister now in future you may regret cutting all ties with her. We are taught by Our Lord to forgive endlessly as I’m sure you know.

Often the people who we can learn the most from test us the most I find. I have come to look upon my enemies as assets since I can learn to develop spiritually when I’m tested they are very helpful.

God bless.


Isn’t it sinful though that I realise how happy it makes my mum and dad and how the kids love seeing each other and I would be preventing that?


This is such an important thing for you that perhaps you should ask your priest.
However though I am not qualified in any way I would simply say that when we say something is a sin we are referring to God, to sin against God. So in what way do you think you sin against God by denying the love to be shared within your two families? I can see how this might be seen as a venial sin but I feel that the real damage here is within yourself. Wouldn’t it be better to feel at peace knowing that your families were sharing love and avoid the guilt of denying this, the pice you pray for that would be your coping with being in close proximity with your sister, this is something which can help you grow surely?


thank you you make a good point here, i’m going to give that some thought


Having boundaries is not sinful. If you truly have other plans, it is OK to say “that date doesn’t work for me, here are the dates that do” and then NOT backtrack and cancel your other plans.

I think it depends on the plans, too. I would try to prioritize my family, especially as my parents won’t be around forever. So it would depend on what the “plans” were. But, no, it is not necessary for you to always be the one to change your plans and it is OK (and probably healthy) if you skip a family event because you have other plans and stick with them if the family isn’t willing to move the date.


No. It’s not like you NEVER see your parents.

It’s not a sin to say “June 12th doesn’t work but July 4 would be great, see you then.”

If you have plans, you have plans. It is unreasonable for your parents to expect you to always accommodate them, especially if they do these sorts of things last minute.


Your parents can’t manage your relationship with your sister. Not their concern.

As PPs have said, it’s not a sin to have boundaries. FIL has become Granddad Who We Don’t See because of his poor behaviour. We show respect for him by praying for the salvation of his soul.


I don’t know about it being sinful, but I would say it is pretty selfish. Some people need to break familial ties because they suffer from emotional distress or a relationship is so unhealthy it makes them sick. I am not getting from you that this is the situation. Sounds to me like you are holding on, unnecessarily , to old baggage that you could just as easily discard. Few of us are the exact same person we were as kids. Cut your sister some slack. I don’t think people just come into the world as mean jerks. Usually, especially kids, we are products of our environment to a certain extent. Maybe your sister dealt with things, as a kid, you weren’t aware of. Maybe your parents put undue responsibilites on her for being older, for example. You don’t know, and so you shouldn’t judge. It is fine to make a value judgement that she was mean to you. I don’t doubt you. My older sister (also 4 years older than me) was terrible to me at times when we were growing up. I matured, as did she, and I realize she had things on her plate that I didn’t, when we were kids.

Most of us spend our lifetime as adults healing and recuperating from our childhoods. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It forces us to grow and learn about ourselves and others. I would encourage you to accept your sister as the adult she is. She may seem selfish, but again, you don’t know everything she has on her plate. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Let the kids grow up with their cousins. These can be relationships that will last them a lifetime and significantly enhance their lives.

I guess what I am trying to say is that forgiveness is great. Forgetting isn’t reasonable or practical. Leaving things in the past, although it can take a lot of effort, is so worthwhile. I know I wouldn’t want my adult self to be judged by my behavior as a child. I don’t think most people would. Learn to enjoy the family you have, to the extent you comfortably can.


When you always change your plans to accommodate them, you’ve trained them to believe that you’re OK with always changing your plans. Yes, you need to learn to set boundaries in your life because you’re making yourself (and your wife) miserable and your sister doesn’t know or care.


It definitely is their concern.

Do what you can while remaining your sanity because charity is a wonderful thing.


Parents can’t dictate what kind of relationship their adult children have with each other. You can’t tell another adult “you need to be nice to your sibling because I want to see all of you together”. That’s not fair to the children.

If the children can’t get along it’s probably best the parents see them separately.


As a parent to adult children and an adult child with siblings, it is very much a concern of parents. It may not be their responsibility, it is definitely a concern.


If you can avoid any interaction at the gathering I think you should go. My sister and I are in a similar situation and I never see her, except at my mom’s funeral.

On EWTN’s Take 2 Show with Jerry and Debbie, Debbie has mentioned that she is divorced and she never sees her children or grandchildren. It happens.

Didn’t St. Francis of Assisi break off contact with his father. I thought I read they never reconciled.

Some people have severe personality disorders and they can be difficult to deal with. I was trying to convince an elderly man that he was not responsible for his son breaking off contact with him. Dr. Ray Guarendi of the Dr is In program says these types of alienations are much more common than before.

There were two other such alienations in my family over the last 80 years.


Some people are willing to put up with family members that are consistently rude, abrasive, manipulating, and abusive for the sake of keeping their family “together.” Others, myself included, choose to keep our distance. I do not tell my family they cannot see other family, just that I will not be subjected to them any longer. I can forgive their transgressions without needing to be around them.


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