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August 20, 2014 / 24 Av, 5774
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Demanding Family Equity

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Dr. Yael, while I love your column, please change your answer after rereading the letter from Frustrated and Overwhelmed. All of my siblings and their spouses agree with me. You have no idea how much onas devarim your column on onas devarim caused me – from my own parents, no less! With great respect, I do not mean to sound nasty when I repeat that this time you missed the mark. Please respond ASAP.

A Frustrated Older Sister

Dear Frustrated Older Sister:

I am truly sorry if this column caused you any pain. My intention was to have the older sister try to get her younger sister to change in a positive way. As most people do not respond well to criticism, the one on the receiving end is more likely to do what needs to be done after being given positive reinforcement.

I see your point, and never dreamed that parents would use my column on onas devarim against any of their children. Families need to be treated like the very fragile entities that they are; thus, you are correct that all angles should have been explored before I replied.

Of course, the younger sister in the original letter was not acting the right way. But please remember that it is hard to change. The goal was that the younger sister would feel special as a result of her older sister’s praise and would then want to do more around the house. This did not mean, chas v’shalom, that the older sister was to blame for making the younger sister feel bad! To the contrary, my advice was a suggested technique for the older sister to use for the purpose of getting her younger sister to be more helpful.

Please accept my apology. I hope that you are able, with the utmost derech eretz, to get your parents to understand that the household chores should be allocated more fairly. Hatzlachah!

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