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Should I cheat for my sister?

She’ll get an F if I don’t sit this exam for her. 

Don’t let your mom pressure you, says our elder. Nobody wins if you do this for your sister.

 

Dear EWC

Hi, I need a bit of advice. So, I am in high school right now and I want success. I work hard and I achieve my goals no matter what. But today I have to choose. I was in a similar situation before. So, I have an exam week and I have to study a lot but that is not the problem – my sister is. We are sitting my final in person but she is not and she got an F. My mom wants me to do her test for her and earn her a solid B. This is not the first time. I feel like I am choosing between me, my success and love for studying and my sister who I love even though she is usually mean to me. I also feel like it is too much for me. So, what should I do?

 

Grandpa-Matt replies

I am not a therapist, but I think that nobody wins in the situation about which you are writing. 

You would be sacrificing your time, choosing to support your sister instead of self-care. It goes against the idea that you should take care of yourself first, which is why the airlines tell you to put on your mask first before taking care of anyone else. It would be best if you studied to produce the best results that you can. There is no win for you under the circumstances.

Your mom is trapped between the desire for your sister to get an acceptable grade, and her duty to raise children to be responsible for their results in life. Your sister will not learn self-reliance by your mom trying to over-protect her and supporting her failures. On the other hand, enabling your sister to escape the consequences of her actions will not allow your mom to fulfill her obligation to raise her daughter to take care of herself when you or your mother are no longer around to rescue her. There is no win for your mom at that point.

As for your sister, I feel that learning to escape accountability is a short-term fix but a long-term disaster. She will learn nothing valuable. The ability to cheat is not a lesson that will enhance her life in any way. It will not motivate her to do better in school because there is no reason to encourage her to do better in the future. There is no win for your sister if you do her work.

Finally, you need to build and enforce your personal boundaries. It requires you to stand up for yourself and not let anyone take advantage of you. When you feel anything is too much for you, it should never be a question of what you should do. The answer should come naturally. See http://www.essentiallifeskills.net/personalboundaries.html

I hope this advice is clear to you. I wouldn’t hesitate to show this correspondence to your mother, hoping that she will understand the long-range effects of her wish that you do your sister’s work. Please let me know how things turn out.

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