Stop criticising

Do friends/family and our partners ever have a right to criticise, or interfere if not invited? Share your stories.

A FRIEND recently stood in open judgment of me. She criticised my parenting without invitation. She’d clearly felt the way she did for a long time, given her eloquence. She also chimed in that “other people” had agreed with her, which clearly buoyed her up enough to liberally share her views.

For a few days I stewed about it, then decided it was a topic worthy of public debate. To what extent are people entitled to intrude on our lives and pass judgment or offer righteous advice on the decisions we make? I mean if our children’s lives are not at stake and we’re not heroin addicts.

A group of my friends who came for lunch weighed in on the discussion. One woman, from a southern European family, says she has an interfering family who due to cultural factors feel it’s their right to give advice on everything she does, from her choice of friends, hairstyles and work hours to the school she sends her child to. The advice is full of veiled criticism. It’s uninvited and offensive to her. As a result she lives in another state.

One of the husbands offered this: “I think it’s OK to pass judgment if it’s asked for. I’m in a men’s group and we put our stories on the table each week for scrutiny. But the guys give their views with full permission and without criticism, because that’s the rules of the group.”

The other male at the table said he didn’t think it was a good idea to be surrounded by those who only ever praise you. “People are going to say whatever they say behind your back anyway,” he added. “At least it’s honest to step forward. Otherwise the judgment comes out in sarcasm or disapproving looks.”

Here’s my view on the etiquette of judgment. No one has any right to give their uninvited opinion on how someone else lives. It’s emotional trespass. I include disdainful stares and snide remarks in this category.

The word here is boundaries. We don’t walk into people’s homes uninvited. It’s not OK to intrude on people’s souls. If we need to tell a friend or family member something we feel is of service, why not say: “I have a view on this. Is it OK to tell you what I think?” If told to shut up, promptly do so.

I wonder if anyone else feels as strongly about this as I do? US relationships and parenting expert Dr John Gottman warns that criticism ruins all relationships. Do you agree?

The Australian





, , , , , ,

100 Responses to Stop criticising

  1. Megan 16 May 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    I was going to start a business, ‘My Honest Opinion’, because there are so many people that are walking disaster areas because nobody cares enough to have a quiet word with them. Decided it probably wasn’t a good idea, because my honest opinion could be quite biased. But I do believe that politeness has taken over honesty, and there’s a lot of people who could do with a helping hand and don’t receive it because everyone’s too polite. I think your friend cared, if they were telling you for your benefit and not their own.

  2. Colin Brown 16 May 2011 at 9:14 am #

    What we feel and think is transitory; it changes from moment to moment. None of us like to be criticized; but, good friends, I suggest, help keep us grounded and yes that means we wear some criticism from time to time. Indeed, if a friend won’t tell it to you straight, who will? Only wanting to hear what we like or our own views reflected back is narcissistic. I think it pays to listen to concerned others, they might just be right.

  3. Ruth Ostrow 16 May 2011 at 12:02 am #

    That sounds sad Wilma, and often criticism is about being asked to break ranks. And yes often it’s between friends over the partners they choose. i tend to keep quiet until asked. But even that is fraught too, because the friend breaks up and asks what you thought of her newly-ex, and you give your opinion and then the girlfriend ends up back to the ex partner, and tells him what you’ve said, and then you are out in the cold 🙂 Its a dangerous game this criticism business.

  4. Ruth Ostrow 15 May 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    Good night all. Thanks for the debate today. Keep posting through the week And don’t ever hesitate giving me a serve. If you don’t mind getting one back of course. I’ve had some beauties today, but I do welcome all points of view on here and they make for interesting reading. The last wishing me a rocket up ‘where it don’t shine’, is classic. Other than answering my blog, I’ve had a hard day today – tax time. I wonder if I am the only one tied to the desk with millions of squiggly numbers on endless pieces of paper and a calculator that’s got sadistic tendencies? I shall leave that blog till another time, meanwhile have a productive week, and stay tuned….Next week’s column cosmetic surgery, to lift or not to lift? That is the question.

  5. Ruth Ostrow 15 May 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    LOL! I may need a rocket, but where Karlos? I suggest you may yourself have a few issues communicating your opinions. Which is exactly the point. If we want our criticisms or opinions to be heard we have to couch them in terms that are acceptable to the person we are criticising or else they either close down and don’t listen or start laughing. You make a valid point, but you make it badly. Hope this helps you grow as a person too.

  6. Ruth Ostrow 15 May 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Thanks Doug, you sound like somewhat of a psychologist. Or else a consumer of much psychological material. I would not agree it was in the anti-social Personality Disorder spectrum but most certainly agree with you that chronic criticism of others smacks of very low self esteem.

  7. Karlos 15 May 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Ruth: I occasionally read your columns advising others how to live thier lives and found this latest one very interesting. Anyone with any sense of community knows that it takes a village to raise a child. The fact you felt you needed to air this personal issue tells me you feel the person you descibe as a transgressor was correct in her assessment of you as a parent.
    Not sure what you mean by “I mean if our children’s lives are not at stake and we’re not heroin addicts”, but it appears you think anything outside of those limits is somehow okay.
    Each and every one of us is affected by the behaviour of others and this means your parenting style is my business.
    I see stupidity in parenting most every day of my life where selfishness and greediness is rewarded by parents with little or no social conscience and you expect me to shut up and accept that? Grow up Ruth. Sounds like you need a rocket.
    Hope this helps you grow as a person.

  8. Doug MacLennan 15 May 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Over several decades of watching and listening to unsolicited criticism of others, I have concluded that the vast majority of people who do it are people of low self-esteem who take every opportunity possible to attempt to elevate other peoples’ opinions of them by trying to drag down those whom they criticise to their own self-perceived low levels of worth and esteem. This motivation is most clearly recognisable in individuals by the fact that their unsolicited criticisms are almost always delivered in the presence of third parties.

    Often, the critics’ low self-esteem is the product of persistent unnecessary carping criticism of them by their parents when they were children. Thus, this anti-social behaviour of unsolicited public criticism is a vicious inter-generational self-perpetuating cycle that is not infrequently associated with other forms of anti-social behaviour by the critics.

  9. Malcolm 15 May 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Ruth, I completely agree with you that no one has a right to give their uninvited opinion on how someone else lives. It is, in fact, emotional trespass. It is also cruel, inconsiderate and insensitive. I do read your column every week with great interest, for which I thank you.

  10. Ruth Ostrow 15 May 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Thanks Frank, good to get the other point of view. You remind me of my favourite letter of long ago from a disgruntled reader. It made me laugh. She wrote — and I quote — “I read Ruth Ostrow every week, and I wouldn’t line my budgie cage with her dreadful column.” I hope you do keep reading my ‘dreadful’ column too. Even if only to be appalled by the “arrogance” and “wrongly self-assured smugness” you hate so much. Cheers RO

  11. Frank 15 May 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    I’ve always wondered what your column was for and about, and what you were on about. Occasionally, I’ve read one and still been none the wiser. You did, however, dispense advice, in a seemingly benign way but with a degree of arrogance that the wrongly self-assured seem to achieve.

    Now the shoe is on the other foot and some one has given you advice; advice you didn’t want or ask for. How does it feel? Seems the smugness you always have has disappeared but not your hubris along with it.

    I have noted you carping many times about sharing your feelings with others (and I don’t disagree on this) but when it happens to you, it is “emotional trespass”. You won’t see and probably never will but your hypocrisy is astounding. Your gratuitous advice differs only in the means of delivery but the fundamentals of what is done are similar.

    Possibly the affront is because you see yourself as a “good” parent and for some one to not also see it damages your substantial ego.

    I won’t read another of your columns and regret the time spent on those I have had the misfortune to read.

  12. sue 15 May 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    All that is really important here is your daughter and how your choices impact on her and what she will become as an adult Hopefully secure, self confident and above all happy!

  13. Patricia 15 May 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    You really hit a nerve with your article in this weekend Australian. I had remained close friends with a group of women that I trained (nursing) with in the early sixties, we worked in USA after that and then I came to Australia in 1970 and they all stayed in the same area and in fact went back and took up positions in the hospital we trained in until they retired. I subsequently changed my career direction regularly, moved interstate on a number of occasions with the guy that I have been not married to for 36 years so I think you could say that I have changed somewhat.

    In the past 10 years I have arranged 3 week holidays for them on 2 occasions to Australia and it is the last one that really made me identify with your article. The criticism and snide remarks regarding my choice of lifestyle e.g. you drink too much, you are too thin, you hardly eat anything, on and on it went including remarks regarding the treatment for my atrial fibrillation – ‘if you lived in UK you would be made to attend a clinic every week’. No point explaining that I eat very well for a vegetarian or that I go to gym and walk 8 k’s a day and my cardiologist is delighted with my health, it was on for old and young including snide looks when I used the word dinner party instead of tea!!!!

    Anyway, recently one of them contacted me as her daughter was immigrating to Adelaide and was it alright for her to contact me, subsequently I helped her and her husband find a flat and this woman has very recently visited them and wanted to take me out for a meal which I accepted. When we were at lunch she said she couldn’t understand why I hadn’t contacted when I was in the UK for my fathers’ funeral, this gave me the opportunity to tell her how upset I had been when nobody even said thanks for the holiday that I had arranged when we went to different airports or made any effort since, I also raised the comments that upset me, our relationship will never be the same as I have changed so much but it was a weight of my shoulders now I no longer have to mull over a situation that had been eating away at me for 4 years.

  14. Ruth Ostrow 15 May 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks Helen, you got it in one!

  15. pat harrison 15 May 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Depends on your definition of friend. You never told us what she said, maybe there was some truth in what she said, it seems she hit a nerve. My friends can say what they like its how they say it that makes the difference. I don’t agree with asking permission to speak up, must people don’t want to hear when they need to look at something within themselves that needs attention you can take offence or not but maybe you may learn something about yourself.

  16. Dieter Luske 15 May 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    … right to criticise? Sure, it’s a free country, is it polite, that’s a different question.
    It is a very general question, people are living in different realities, and they like to be right. Obviously her reality was clashing with yours. If it was too far off, why bother, but if you took it on board, you may have had some self doubt .
    Most critcising is meaning less and destructive, it simply serves to elevate someones self-esteem, by making someone else wrong. However, lots of criticism is supportive as well, and out of concern, which still doesn’t determine if it is right or wrong.
    My recommendation, stop criticising, by doing it you live in fear of being criticised.

  17. Rachel 15 May 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    One of my primary school age sons has always had quite a feisty strong personality (my other children don’t) and I was going through a tough patch dealing with his behaviour. I’d had a particularly challenging morning with him and when I vented to a friend about it she responded with “you know what they say, it’s not the child, it’s the parents.”

    I responded gently that her comment really was not very helpful to me as I was already feeling quite down, in the hope that she would apologise and perhaps offer some supportive words instead. She didn’t. Our friendship ended.

    In hindsight I should have seen the warning signs. She had on a few occasions related stories to me of her anger and intolerance in some business situations over what to me were relatively minor issues, and also with her family members who she had regular nasty spats with. Needless to say, she hardly has any close friends.

    Real lasting friendships and good relationships are based on mutual support and kindness, and when differences of opinion do occur, tact, empathy and forgiveness are essential elements.

  18. jklynch 15 May 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Any adult who feels concerned about any child’s welfare has an absolute obligation to voice that concern. Your friend was right and you’re wrong to assume that this issue is all about you.

  19. Kate 15 May 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Hello Ruth, I think we can all be judgmental at various times and its rather a case of he who throws the first stone. I look at criticism a little differently. We all have choices and there are certainly times when criticism is a positive thing. Your column is in itself a judgment on those who voice an opinion that differs from yours and has allowed comments to follow that clearly criticise family members in a rather dubious way. If people don’t like their mother-in law, elder sister or whoever, it would be a good idea to look into themselves to see what is happening there. Take the focus off what other people are doing and turn it on oneself. Then see the changes. Voicing how we feel about things in a non critical way is healthy. Maybe the mother-in-law who checks the cooking has a valid point and something can be learned from her.Get positive and stay friendly.

  20. Sandra 15 May 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I’m with you on this one. Coming from a highly critical/judgemental english family I now live on the other side of the world and freely admit I moved to escape the constant judgement.
    Since realising how damaging it was to me as a child, I have tried very hard not to inflict my judgement on anyone unless I felt there was serious danger or negative repercussions from their behaviour and even then I’d offer my opinion only once.
    As a consequence I often find that people feel freer in my presence and are able to share deeply held secrets and burdens – I’m not a counsellor but sometimes wonder if that is a path I should take.
    I firmly believe in live and let live, if you respect your friend/relative then you should allow them to make their own choices in life, let them mold their own path and still support them.
    My teenage children are already seeing the difference it has made to their lives and are appreciative of my parenting methods, unlike my friends and family who regularly offer many comments, suggestions, and corrections to my way of life. Looking back I don’t think I would or could change anything to make my children’s and my life any better, so those of you out there thinking of offering… keep your opinions to yourself!

  21. Carolyn 15 May 2011 at 2:26 am #

    I noticed you wrote that a friend had given unwanted advice on your parenting. Most friends try to avoid hurting their friends feelings. My mate does not need to know that I think her husband is a mysoginistic prat, or a manipulative drunk because she has to make his dinner regardless of what time he gets home. But I have noticed that as I get older, I want to vent my spleen more (must be hormones you say?, but it happens to men too) and have to tamp down on the urge to tell a few ‘home truths’. On the other side of the scale, perhaps your friend envies your family situation. Or maybe you have precocious brats that get on everyone (else’s) nerves?

  22. Wilma 14 May 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    I totally agree with you that there has to be boundaries in every relationship. Your column struck a chord with me as I have had a ‘falling out’ with an old friend in the last week, and I haven’t experienced anything like it since high school. My ‘friend’ sent me an email criticising my husband a few months ago. I responded saying that I could see how she had formed her view, but that it wasn’t fair to expect me to agree or divide my loyalty between her and my husband. This week, she sent another email criticising him and I responded by saying that I thought we had been over this and I was not prepared to be put in a position where I had to defend him to her. (The criticism is petty and antagonistic – nothing serious like him being an alcoholic or wifebeater!). After many days of soul searching, I have come to the conclusion that it’s about how you communicate these things. If it is outright criticism, keep it to yourself. If it is concern that might come across as criticism, then ask an open question. But, don’t ever expect someone to break ranks with a loved one or family member.

  23. Traci Brown 14 May 2011 at 7:58 pm #

    I have never commented on my any of my friends’ parenting skills nor on their childrens’ behaviour. If I were to comment it would ruin our friendship. If I find their children unpleasant we don’t see them for a while and I give my kids a break. The only constructive criticism I always ask for is that of my parents. Their love and wisdom has been of great benefit to me and to my children. More people should ask for advice and stop giving it!

  24. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    Ahhhhh a culprit. How wonderful for you to fess up 🙂 Yes it is a personality thing. I don’t mind what people say to me in fact welcome constructive points of view. it is the tone. Really well intentioned observation offered in love and with permission is very different to outright criticism. I can feel it in my gut when it hits.

  25. Bill 14 May 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I am the villain here, because I am one of the advice-givers. My sister in particular burrs up whenever I proffer an opinion on her or anything. Maybe I’m just an a*&#hole and this is the way a-holes think, but to my mind when I see something that she – to use same sister as an example – is doing or is about to do, and which is either going to result in a stuff-up or can be improved upon, I will say something. The reason I will pipe up and say it is because I can see what she’s doing and how it may be “wrong”, whereas she can’t see – i know she can’t because otherwise she wouldn’t be doing it in the first place. I truly don’t understand what is wrong saying something in a situation like this. Whenever anyone says something in turn to me about something I may doing incorrectly I am acually grateful! I see it as gaining another, new angle on something that I may not have been aware of. Or if it is an angle that I’m already aware of I will promptly tell them so. But I won’t be offended by it. Because I don’t mind criticism, I expect others not to mind it as well. Although clearly many people do mind – a lot! Maybe its a personality thing…

  26. Gaye 14 May 2011 at 5:22 pm #

    I had a mother I loved dearly who criticized much of what I did. Now I am a mother, grandmother and mother in law. I am terrified of being critical of people I love as I know how much I was hurt. When asked for advice I hope I give it with the proviso that they know that it is only my opinion and I may be wrong. However, I am human and there are times when I have offered suggestions unsolicited.

  27. Jo Bainbridge 14 May 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    With permission by Ruth- I have a blog on my experience of being a parent of teenage boys called Sweet Child of Mine (yes I am a tragic 80’s chick too). Welcome ‘criticism’ from those who follow Ruth’s blog on mine!

  28. Jo Bainbridge 14 May 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    If you have time you can have a look at my own blog and read some of my posts from a Gen X mum of three boys…not always politically correct but worth a laugh :o)

  29. Jo Bainbridge 14 May 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    If you really want to see judgmental-ism (inventing words now) at its nastiness try the birth choices and breastfeeding boxing rings!
    I heard a loved one -a stay at home mum- saying that working mums and ones who still go to the hair dress…er and buy nice clothes are selfish. Could there really be such a term applicable to mothers? Selfish? Okay I will be selfish if she admits to being crazy because I would have to be crazy to be a SAHM or I soon would be! Ha ha!

  30. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Thank you Jo. It’s wonderful to hear from you, and I am pleased to hear that I’m not alone in the firing line. I don’t mind open dialogue, but how dare any one just openly feel they can trespass on our emotional terraine.

  31. Jo Bainbridge 14 May 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Love it Ruth! I have been blogging about my experience of being a mother to teenage boys – raw, truthful and without the notion of if I am doing the ‘right thing’. I am amazed how people are willing to criticize without knowing me, my boys or the situation. Loved ones not so much of a problem though these days! They wouldn’t be game enough! lol

  32. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Thanks for remembering that one 🙂 It was that friendship has its used-by date, like milk and that many of them go off, but we keep drinking them. I am so glad you remember.

  33. Kathleen 14 May 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Me again…I think you have opened a can of worms here Ruth..good luck! Seriously tho both my partner and I come from familys of eight and it is always very interesting . Years ago a dear old friend of mine who died late last year told me of her own grown children who loved her and her husband dearly, that over the years she gave them unconditional love and support throughout their lives no matter what they did, believe me they did plenty, still are! It has been my mantra because never ever underestimate what your children will do just be there to pick them up and point them in the right direction again. People who judge parenting or lifestyle choices-skills probably dont have their finger on the pulse with their children as some one like you has. You and only you will know when things are not quite right and deal with them as you should… friend you say? I dont think so….years ago you did a column on culling friendships, maybe it would be a good time to revisit that? Cheers Kathleen.

  34. Helen Levin 14 May 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Single mother, financially unsupported, and then not a good mother? Maybe not such a good friend, I’d say..

  35. sue 14 May 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    It is adviseable not to give advice to anyone unless they ask for it. No-one likes criticism – it hurts our self-esteem! However, think carefully as to whether your friend is right? After “stewing” on this you felt compelled to bring this subject into your column – why?

  36. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Hey Paul, very funny

  37. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Time for some couple’s counselling I think. Specially if you are dealing with a demanding special needs child. Best you try to help yourself and your partner before you end up seriously depressed and in bed, a phenomenon I know too well. As someone who suffers from depression I can see the symptoms. Good luck Lucy from all of us here.

  38. Paul Bolster 14 May 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Gratuitous advice is worth what you pay for it.

  39. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    The debate hots up, could some of my bloggers be right that is is all about jealousy and resentment especially from close friends and family?? are the people who judge you jealous?

  40. Ruth Ostrow 14 May 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    I agree with this Edna but then again I said so in my column. It is incomprehensible to me that this goes on. I have my hands full making decisions that are difficult particularly since I am currently a single mother and don’t have the luxury of being financially supported by a husband. So my daughter has to do without certain things. She is certainly no latch key kid but I am either at work or at university at night (Uni to retrain in multi media so I can stay employable as a journalist and be able to pay for her university and car etc). I feel guilty enough as it is without everyone on my case about my lack of mothering. Especially from friends who have dual incomes. I think my anger is showing, sigh….. trying to make this an unemotional debate but as a mother trying to balance to many balls I just feel tired and the interference does not help!

  41. Angus Morrison-Saunders 14 May 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Dear Ruth,
    I have found that transcending or avoiding making judgements (on others and also on myself) leads to a great calmness and peacefulness. This tends to have a similar effect on others around me. Judgements cause pain for both the judge and the recipient. Peacefulness and acceptance breeds peacefulness and acceptance. I don’t know how to help others realise this. Personally I found the work of Byron Katie (especially) and Eckhard Tolle (to a lesser extent) to be very helpful, but admitedly only after I had had a fairly major eg0-crisis-meltdown experience (caused by my own judgements and my own reactions to what I perceived were the judgements of others) a couple of years ago. In short, accepting what is is better than seeking to approve or disprove through judgement.
    Best wishes,
    P.S. I have not directly answered your questioned, but hopefully my literal answer can be inferred from the above.

  42. Edna 14 May 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Yeah yeah friends always have so much to say about how we parent and everyone can do a better job. But time will tell. And I eagerly await those who criticise to see how their kids turn out. To answer your question there is never ever a time where judgement is okay.

  43. Julie 14 May 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I am laughing at both the boys. You have no idea what its like to be a daughter in law of a European mother in law. She tastes everything I make for her darling boy, and then gives me good advice on how i can make it taste better. I find this so distressing I have lost the urge to cook which makes matters worse because i am nervous. Criticism and interfering are bloody awful and achieve no good.

  44. Moses 14 May 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    I know the feeling of being bullied by the wife’s parents. I have used a fake name because I am terrified they will read this and have more to winge and whine about than normal. Honestly, I don’t know where people find the time to be so obstreperous. He is retired, and I think they have more time on their hands than sense.

  45. Lucy 14 May 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    I think the topic is good. I live continually with the criticism of my husband who doesn’t think that what I do with the kids is good enough. I am at present a stay at home mum but was a marketing manager for 15 years before I got pregnant. I have two boys, one is a handful due to a medical condition. I do everything I am supposed to do, yet still there are things wrong. not just with how I bring up the kids but also my cooking my weight, and I feel very depressed. He doesn’t see that his criticism is not helping me it is making me feel worse and worse.

  46. 14 May 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Hi, using my girl’s address here. Read you and Adams offn’on Adams has actually read my somewhat controversial book on the human condition. You might ask him about it ifn’ you talk at all. Now; without boring you with cliches, I have found that most criticism -qualified or otherwise – is often precipitated by n element of resentment for one or another of your traits, images, successes… whatever. The self appointed critic is scratching their itch in having a whack at you ; ‘ carping’ is so common. And, if the rude assholes really want to help you or whoever you are mistreating there will be obvious signs that they do care. But mostly they don’t and taking you down a notch is much more important. I’ve toughened up in 53yrs and give them my favourite two word monologue starting and finishing with “F”. One more thing, spite and pathetic destructive verbal cruelty is not the preserve of women! I have been the target of ‘opinions’ presented with such vitriol from males – I durnst call them men – that has left me embarrassed on their behalf. I then soon realise that these slobs don’t get how crude they actually are. Mad world huh! Peace, health n’ happiness to you and yours. Stony……

  47. Andra Taylor 14 May 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    I have been reading your columns in “The Australian” since they commenced and have enjoyed learning about your life.
    I think you would enjoy my friend Sister Wolf with her blog Goddammit I’m Mad.

  48. Ruth Ostrow 13 May 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Thanks yes I explore the binds of love, I will love you and adore you but I have a right to interfere in every aspect of your life and tell you what do do. The secret contract that goes between friends partners and family – but does it have to be like this? Look forward to your opinions.

  49. May 13 May 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    Hi Ruth, I am also looking forward to this. I have a sister who is what you would describe as – not shy in coming forth. The other day, for instance, when I was emptying the cupboards for a spring clean, she came over and was standing there commenting on every little thing, clothes I had decided to keep, the fact I am sentimental and don’t like to let old letters go, she was even critical that I had kept a pull over from my Mum who died a few years ago telling me it would just fall apart anyway and I was being a hoarder and that maybe I should seek help. It’s always been like this, and I hope she reads this as I’ve used my real name. I don’t think being the eldest sister gives anyone the right to offer opinions that make a loved one feel belittled or uncomfortable . I look forward to hearing what you say and am happy to share more of these stories tomorrow, if anyone is interested in my family’s dirty linen of course.

  50. Stew 13 May 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    I am looking forward to this one! My mother in law (yes yes cliche) always tells me what to do. I can’t believe it. Everyone at work is frightened of me, due to being in a position of authority. But she feels completely free to share her opinions. I will have a lot to say once I’ve read your story. But another good idea Ruth.

Leave a Reply