Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Should I Lie To Spare My Sister's Feelings?

Dear Mom:

Should I say something to my sister who is thin but wears jeans so tight that they make her belly hang out?


Tummy Tucked

Dear Tucked:

This is one of those questions I believe most people would have the answer to, but far fewer would have the courage to act on. I hope this response will help you to act.

I remember once a few years ago a friend of mine came over to my house wearing the worst shade of lipstick I had ever seen. It was an orange rust color and looked terrible on her fair skin. She asked, "What do you think?" I didn't know what to say. Should I tell her the truth and hurt her feelings, forever distancing our friendship, or should I tell a little white lie and say the lipstick looked just fine?

I decided on the white lie. She put her hands on her hips and replied, "This is the ugliest lipstick I have ever worn! This was a test, and you failed!"

After being angry at her for playing such a trick on me, I began to see that what she wanted to know was if I would be truthful with her even when being truthful was difficult. If she couldn't trust me to tell the truth on the small stuff, how could our friendship weather the large ones?

Talk to your sister. Talk to her alone; not within a group where she is sure to be embarrassed. Sit down with her and spell it out. Not in so many words; the best ones; the words you'd want to hear if your belly was hanging out.

One of the best ways I know of to do this is called the sandwich trick, and is less like a trick and more like a way of smoothing things over a bit while you tell her.

A sandwich is made up of three parts-the bottom piece of bread, the inner layer and the top piece. First, tell her something positive; something you like about her. Add the inner layer, your concern. You might say, "You are so beautiful, but it's hard to see your beauty when you wear such tight pants and your belly hangs out." Finish your concern with the top piece of bread; another positive comment, so that your sister will know you're not just picking on her or something. Leave her knowing her self-esteem and your friendship is still in place.

Good luck!


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