Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Dating Coach,

Pesach is coming and I will be at home with my parents and my three married siblings. I need you to help me find a tactful way to tell my siblings that they need to reevaluate their reliance on me – The Single Sister. How do I tell them that I am not the nanny, the Uber driver, the errand runner, late night babysitter, or maid? They park themselves at my parents and expect me to watch their children “because they never get to sleep,” and appreciate the chance to fill in the gap at every turn with their families. I run out for last minute diapers, pick up toy after toy, and feed everyone breakfast because their “parents are resting.” I adore my nieces and nephews. I consider myself an involved “fun aunt,” but I don’t work for you! Their expectations are unreasonable and totally disrespectful! I am so happy to help my mother in the kitchen or in any other way, but I am not the concierge for my siblings stay at Casa Mama. This really frustrates me! Now, how do I say this without ruining Pesach?!


Sibling at Your Service


Dear Service,

My toddler discovered a gap between the headboard and the wall and tried stuffing a toy inside. It worked well according to the mysterious criteria understood only to the inner workings of the toddler mind. The next day I discovered “said toy” and put it gently back in the toy box believing it to be some sort of mistake. The day after that, I found two toys in that gap. I removed them again, now with some suspicion. On day three, I moved the bed and found 27.5 toys (one car was missing all four wheels. If you find them, let us know) in that impossibly tiny space. Toddler logic is still largely confusing, but the gist is “If at first you don’t succeed, try to fit more toys in.”


My Sister Has the Best Sister

Thank you for your letter! I hear your frustration and appreciate your desire to feel respected while maintaining a peaceful atmosphere. You believe that they are taking advantage of you because you are single and want them to stop. At the same time, you worry about their reaction and response. You love your siblings and your nieces and nephews but you are not their full-time Pesach assistant.

You are a kind aunt, and a loving sister. Your siblings have seen this now in probably countless circumstances where you have helped them with their families. They have all asked you for help in the past and you answered their calls. Gladly and happily. As you should. It is a gift to have nieces and nephews to cherish and even spoil, and you love them very much. It is not uncommon however, for those that we extend a finger to, to expect the entire hand. You have been so helpful. So of course, they are now asking you (or assuming) you would be glad to do even more. Is it presumptuous? Yes. Is it unfair? Yes. I do believe though, that they are doing this unconsciously, as a simple response to what they know to be true; you are there for them.

Time to set some boundaries. This has to be done right away before you are all gathered at the Seder table. Call your siblings individually and remind them that you think their children are the most beautiful, smartest, and most incredible ever and you love them to pieces. Explain that you feel taken advantage of and why. Offer a clear statement of how you are willing to help and how you are not. Your siblings may be gracious and apologetic or taken aback and upset. Regardless, you are certainly allowed to set boundaries that will allow to you maintain the beautiful relationship you have with your siblings and their children.

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Henni Halberstam is a Dating and Marriage Coach whose expert advice will help you navigate dating and relationships in order to ensure a successful marriage. You can contact her at [email protected] to schedule a phone session.