DEAR ABBY: I'm the youngest of nine children. When my father passed away two years ago, I moved to northern Ohio to care for my ailing mother. I thought I was doing the family a favor.
When I moved home, I allowed my sisters to control my life as they had for the past 35 years. I finally drew the line and told them to stay away from me. I told them they could visit Mother during the day because I work full-time. (They don't have steady jobs.)
Mother has always loved me, and she knew how they were treating me. She informed them that if they didn't get off my case, she wanted nothing to do with them. This angered them even more, and they stopped calling and visiting us. It hurt my mother deeply. She changed her will, leaving me the house and furniture, and named me executor of her estate.
When mother was hospitalized, she told me not to contact my sisters, and I followed her wishes. This infuriated them, but they did begin visiting us again and calling on the phone, although I temporarily put a block on their calls so they wouldn't disturb Mother.
Please tell me what I should do to win back my sisters' love, but not allow them to control me. -- UPSET IN OHIO
DEAR UPSET: You are serving as "gatekeeper" to your mother, and it's understandably resented by other siblings. They have as much right to see and talk with her as you do. Putting a block on their calls, however well-intentioned your motives may have been, was the wrong thing to do.
You may not be able to re-establish a loving relationship with your sisters, but you could create harmony by encouraging them to visit your mother as frequently as possible. If you feel they are "controlling you," leave the premises when they come to visit.