Care and Feeding

FastPass to Resentment

I love going to Disney World with my mom, but my out-of-state sister complains that she’s being left out.

Person holding a Disney hat.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Leighann Renee on Unsplash.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

I’m 25 and live in Florida with my parents. (Yay, student loans!) Everyone in my immediate family has a Disney World annual pass. Because I live at home, my mom and I are able to go to Disney World together pretty frequently, which has really helped my mom and I to bond.

During the schoolyear, my sister, who is 21 and in college in Georgia, is rarely able to join us. On top of going to a highly competitive school, she’s an athlete, and her classes and training interfere with our days off. The problem is that these trips are making my sister believe that I am my mom’s favorite child and that we purposely exclude her from fun activities.

I don’t know what to do about this. When we tell my sister ahead of time that we are going, she tries to guilt us into not going. But when we don’t tell her, and she finds out via social media, she gets won’t-speak-to-you-for-several-days mad at both of us. I’ve tried to go with my sister when she’s home for summer and other school breaks, but she’s more interested in the beach and her friends. And we try to go on longer trips as a family, but these simmering tensions tend to blow up—spring break ended early in an Epcot shouting match.

How do I constructively talk to my sister about this without the outcome she seems to prefer, which is my mom and I sitting at home until she can join us?

—Torn in Two on the Tower of Terror

Dear Terror,

I think you know by now that this is not about Disney. If it were just about the park, then she’d take you up on your offers to go when she is in town. For reasons that I can in no way know, your sister has a long-simmering resentment about being left out of your mother’s affections. This Disney World thing is just the container for that resentment.

Another thing you and I both know is that it is patently absurd for her to expect you and your mother to sit in the house staring at each other just because she is occupied in school a state away. You should absolutely go to Disney World whenever and however you want to or need to. And you should explain to your sister that not going just because she is in her feelings about it is absolutely crazy.

But you do need to do what you can for the three of you to get to the bottom of whatever is truly bothering her. You can ask her to talk about it, but if that’s not making any progress, then that may mean her real beef is with your mom. Or it may mean that she’s simply not ready to talk about it at all—which is a shame, but there’s not much you can do about it.

Continue to keep your side of the street clean. Continue to invite her to things and spend time with her when you can. But do not waste too much of your time trying to get to the bottom of her issues. She will talk about them when she’s ready, if she’s ready. Until then, go on and ride Space Mountain all you want.