Headless Frank...

advisor to the lovelorn, weary, confused, and the overly self-involved

headless frank

Dear Headless Frank:

I’ve had it with my sister. She comes to visit in my home 3-4 times a year, sometimes for a week, but never lifts a finger to help around the house. I’m becoming increasingly resentful. What should I do?
—Cara M. of AZ

Dear Cara—
All you want is for your sister to lift a finger. Say so: "Sis, would you mind lifting a finger in the kitchen for me?" That might solve the problem.

Often, not lifting a finger is a sign of something deeper like depression. I don’t really believe that, but I’ve noticed that other advice columnists relate just about every problem to the possibility of depression.

Not lifting a finger suggests that your sister is a lazy moocher. You didn’t want to say that. But you’re glad I did, right? It’s better for me to say it, anyway. Such direct accusation doesn’t always sit well within the family unit. I tried it on my own (lazy moocher) sister once and she literally came off the wall (my sister was a bas relief of Diana the huntress).

"Frank, you fool!" she screamed. "You know I’m a statue and can’t move a thing. Even if I could, I would certainly have serious arthritis in my finger now after hundreds of years pulling this stupid bow."

I was chastened and apologized, but Diana continued to bore right into me—still without lifting a finger (so this might give you some idea how non-essential that really is). She accused me of never lifting a finger myself (true, and not my fault) or ever performing a physical act. She’s wrong there as I have both swayed in the wind and rolled down the driveway.

She cut me to the quick. Well, she tried to, but again, BEING STATUARY, I have no quick. Having no quick is an enormous social drawback that people with quicks never even think about. You just take it for granted…but this isn’t about me (ever!)

Okay, for your problem: Train your sister incrementally in the art of lifting a finger. Next visit, have her lift one finger, one time (you might have to lift it for her initially so she can get the feel of it). Second visit, get her to lift an entire hand and carry her plate to the dinner table.

Third visit here’s what you say: "Sis, since you are so good at lifting a finger, would you please lift the piano so I can dust under it?"

You know this is what you wanted out of her all along. And I’m pretty sure it is exactly what she feared…that if she lifted a finger it would tip the iceberg.

Good luck.

Signing off: Medulla oblongata.