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I'm caught in the middle

Community Member

I really don't know what to do anymore. I am the eldest of 3 daughters. One sister lives an hour away, my other sister lives interstate. My mum is in her late 70's and is causing us some concern health wise. Mum is quite belligerent and is determined to have her own way and do things her own way. The sister who lives an hour away is a medical professional (who believes she is right) and wants to control mum's health issues. They are constantly at logger heads and are baiting each other. My interstate sister has spoken to both of them to no avail. I have mum complaining to me about my sister. My sister tells me that mum is manipulating me and others. If anything both are being manipulating. Nothing I say or do is right or good enough. I understand they need to vent.

I have some major issues at work that I need to deal with this week (they both know about these issues), yet they both continue to 'dump' on me. I hate being caught in the middle.

8 Replies 8

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Marg,

Thanks for sharing, I'm sorry to hear about the situation with your mum. It is a tricky spot you are in. Reaching out to a counselor or therapist, just for you, and spending some time speaking with them during this particular period is probably a very good idea. You can pickup coping techniques, advice on how to handle the situation, and a detachment that should stop you from becoming overwhelmed by it all.

You can also speak with us, or the BB Helpline. We can help you as much as you wish to talk with us and bounce ideas and support strategies around. Do not ever forget to make time for YOU during this period. You really cannot be of much help to those who need you, if you do not take care of you first. This is critical, don't lose sight of it.

See a counselor and come back and chat anytime. We are here for you. All the best.


Hi Marg, welcome

Sometimes, for our own health and well being, we have to get tough.

Tell both your mum and sister that you don't see any benefit in being included in the discussions

It would be annoying having a daughter over impose her "expertise" upon her mother when your mother has her own doctor.

Distance yourself. When either of them contact you, tactfully explain you love them both but the family stress is taking its toll and you need to focus on your own challenges.

Tony WK

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello Marg,

I totally sympathise with you. I come from a big family as does my wife. Both families have members that love to vent about each other, and I seem to be the ear that they use to voice their opinions. It was getting me down recently, so after talking with a counsellor, I realised, I was slowly becoming sucked into their vortex of destructive behaviour. As a result, I spent some time writing a very personal letter to each of those who continually vented to me. In those letters, I reiterated that I loved and cared for them, but I was sad that they felt they had to use me to criticise others. I asked them gently to be a bit more selective in their comments, and if they had criticisms, they should sit down and gently and constructively work through those criticisms with the targets, not by going to everyone else. This has slowly worked as I now have a more respectful relationship with the culprits, I feel more at ease, and can keep my own views without feeling that I have to buy into others' wars.

I hope this helps. These things take time, but it is worth sticking to your guns, and maintaining your own sesne of balance and reality.

Community Member

Hi Marg, I think you are in the tough but common spot of having to juggle wanting to be both caring of others and caring of yourself! I think the catch phrase here is boundaries. We all need them! How are they defined?

Well, I think we need to ensure that the way people are behaving towards us feels OK for us. If not, we become upset, angry, sad and eventually can’t be as compassionate as we should or could be. So keeping boundaries is a win win for everyone. If you feel that your mother and sister are crossing boundries with you and therefore making it harder for you to be kind / compassionate to them, well put that boundary back up. Explain gently to them what feels ok for you and what doesn’t.

What allows you to feel happy and giving and warm toward them, and what doesn’t .It could be as simple as asking them please not to call you to complain about the other during the work week. That you can only tolerate one vent phone call per week from each on a Saturday and thats it !

You can decide what the boundary is .. Explain how important it is for you to have loving relationship with both of them and that is why you are asking them to respect the boundary - to protect the relationship.

look at this youtube clip- Brene Brown explains it way better than I ever could!

Community Member

Hi Steve,

Thank you for your comments and for putting into word/s how I am feeling - overwhelmed.

Yes, coping strategies is what is needed at the moment. I am going to look at some counselling - if anything to give me a chance to vent.


Thank you Tony,

Your thoughts and words are greatly appreciated.

Putting some distance between me and them, particularly during the week - not that I want to ruin my weekends, is what I have to do. Since posting yesterday I have explained to my sister that I feel caught in the middle - her rebuttal was that she was only getting me up to speed on mum's health. Nothing I can do about how she feels or how she interprets my comments - and visa versa. They have both been told that I wont be contacting them until the end of the week.

Thank you once again.


Community Member

Thank you,

I like the idea of letter writing and will give it a go during the week. It might help to put things into perspective as well.

Thanks again.

Community Member

Hi Dr,

Thank you for your comments and the video. Yes, boundaries are important. I just need to work out what they will be. "I respect your need to vent, but not now"... I guess as the video suggests it is working out what those boundaries will be and how they will be implemented.

After posting yesterday I had contact with my sister via text message. I explained that I felt caught in the middle and she was stunned. Apparently she vents with my interstate sister and she is ok with it. Not everyone is the same.

The ideas of letter writing (even if the recipients never receive them), distance and setting of boundaries are important for me right now. Also accepting that I can't change their relationship no matter how much I want to.

Now to put into practice, and finding the courage to do so, what I have learnt from these pages.

I'm glad that forums such as this exist...

Thanks again