“Glass child” is a term for a child with a sibling who is chronically ill or disabled.
Family and friends seem to look through the glass child and focus on their ill or disabled sibling.
Glass children appear strong but are actually quite fragile.
The effects of the focus on one sibling over the other(s) also warps the perspective of the child receiving all of the attention. If they’re ill as a child but recover, the loss of attention can lead to some problematic behavior.
A bride-to-be who was a glass child is struggling with her sister’s behavior and her mother’s enabling.
So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
“AITA for not wanting my sister at my wedding since she is in a wheelchair and will take up all of the spotlight?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“My sister (26) has been in and out of the hospital. I am going to call my sister Anna.”
“Anna got cancer when she was 15 and was able to beat it. Ever since, she has been having growths, and anytime one appears, we are worried about the cancer coming back.”
“My issue is that she always makes these announcements that she needs to go to the doctor again at the worst times. At the beginning, I thought it was just bad timing, but it has happened so many times when I hit a milestone.”
“My graduations, my birthdays, my engagement party. Anytime she makes an announcement that she needs to go back to the hospital, my whole family will flock to her.”
“I have had my birthday dinner turn into my relatives flocking to her for the whole night.”
“I had a dinner party to announce my wedding date for my relatives. It was going so great, and it was a fun time until Anna told mom she needed to go back to the hospital.”
“Soon, everyone forgot about the reason for the dinner party, and it was quiet. My aunt even stepped in to do a prayer for Anna.”
“It’s like a 50/50 chance for someone else’s event to get an announcement from Anna. I don’t think she has ever done it at her own celebrations like her graduation and so on.”
“Another event was taken over. I went low contact with her after that.”
“She was invited to my wedding and it is in two weeks. I learned today she is in and out of a wheelchair from my mom/Anna.”
She will need to take it just in case for the wedding. I asked if the rest of the family was informed and she told me no.”
“I told both of them they need to inform them. They told me they don’t want to worry them and won’t do that.”
“I had enough and told them you need to tell everyone before my wedding. Again, a no. I then informed them Anna was not invited.”
“This started a huge argument about how I’m a dick, but my point is I am sick of her stealing the spotlight. That’s what will happen if she rolls in with a wheelchair.”
The OP added:
“You know what the sad part is? At one point, I could say I loved her with all my heart, and now I can’t.”
“It’s a weird feeling to feel your love for someone turn to disdain.”
“I know my relatives will be upset if I drop that bomb and it’s not from her. Family is big on medical info needs to come from the person.”
The OP summed up their situation.
“I disinvited my sister to my wedding since she is in a wheelchair and will steal the spotlight. I could be a jerk since I am disinviting someone who is in a wheelchair.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors unanimously declared the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).
“You need to sit down with your parents privately and in person if possible.”
“Explain calmly that you love your sister but that she has been using her health situation to hijack every event in your life. Give the examples you gave us and every single example you can recall.”
“Explain that, like them, you are concerned about her health, but you would like your wedding day to focus on you and your fiancé(e). This is extremely important to you, and you are asking them not just to comply but to back you up on this.”
“Explain that you have asked her to inform everyone of her wheelchair use, and she refused. You asked her not to make this one day about her, and she is signaling that she will not honor your request.”
“After trying to come to a compromise, you and your fiancé(e) have decided that if she cannot stop herself from springing this and continuing to demand everyone’s attention at an inappropriate time (YOUR wedding), it is best she does not attend.”
“It has been 11 years. Her situation is sad, but it’s obvious that she’s leveraged it and continues to manipulate everyone.”
“You’re NTA.” ~ SelfImportantCat
“My sister did all the same things to me.”
“My wedding day, she was admitted to the hospital, and I’m not sure if she’d be able to come. My baby shower, she announced she eloped.”
“It was always something. But I hate attention on me, so I never got too upset.”
“I went no contact with her five years ago. I have never known so much peace. NTA.” ~ Unlikely-Candle7086
“My sister went no contact with the whole family, and it’s been so relaxing. My parents have been taking it surprisingly well, too.”
“I think we all just needed a break from her. A nice, long, multi-year break. NTA.” ~ rosyred-fathead
“NTA. OP, there is always going to be a thing for your sister to use in order to distract from your news/day/etc… In your shoes, I’d shine up that spine and tell your sister (and anyone else trying to influence your decision) she’s not invited.”
“Call me cynical, but your sister is an attention hog who has continually been enabled by your family. That isn’t going to change after all this time.”
“You deserve your wedding to be about you and your partner.” ~ platypusandpibble
“NTA. I found myself realizing I just didn’t like my younger half-brother. He is a pompous a**.”
“I gave myself permission to not like him or my SIL and have been NC for several years. So much less stress.” ~ iliketoredit
“NTA. If you do decide to let her come, put a message out to the other guests saying that your sister will likely need to use a wheelchair for some or all of the day and that she’s a bit sensitive about it, so please can people avoid commenting on it or talking about it.”
“That’ll puncture her balloon!” ~ SignBrief104
“Not even just for the sister, ‘I want to have a welcoming environment for all my guests. Some require additional support in the form of wheelchairs, crutches, or other items to allow them to enjoy the day.”
“‘I’ve been made aware it can be offensive to make a big deal over the use of these or discussing medical things in such a formal event when they are trying to enjoy themselves.'”
“‘With this in mind, please do not enquire over medical requirements of guests, or discuss medical updates or situations so that all my guests can enjoy the day and celebrate’.”
“‘Please note anyone not following this will be asked to leave and I know you will understand why—there are many with invisible disabilities or medical requirements and I need to protect all my guests and allow them to enjoy the day’.”
“Believe it or not, we had to have training at a disability charity around stuff like this, so it’s not even a lie. You are just being very welcoming, you aren’t outing anyone but making it clear, you talk medical stuff, you are gone.”
“Also, have your maids of honor and best man, and DJ all on board to suddenly do something if she tries to talk and make a big announcement. Your friends will be there for you more than you realize if you just ask. NTA” ~ constantly_parenting
“NTA. My sister is similar, except she has depression (supposedly) and hints that she’s going to [hurt] herself. Surprisingly, she always gets better the day after, or after my family stops talking about me.”
“Birthday, graduation, any big accomplishment like promotions, etc… I had to go no contact with her.”
“I had a small wedding, and she did not get invited. My parents spent the four days before the wedding, and the day of, talking to her on the phone and crying scared she was going to hurt herself.”
“She kept telling them that they didn’t love her, I didn’t love her, and to prove themselves they did love her. She asked them to prove their love by not showing up to the wedding.”
“In a sense she accomplished her goal of ruining my wedding, my only memories of my parents at the wedding are of them crying on the phone. She got out of her depressive episode the day after my wedding.” ~ gracie_jc
“NTA. If you were banning Anna solely for using the wheelchair, it would be Y T A. However, her refusing to inform any other relatives of this indicates she is doing it to steal your thunder, especially since she’s doing this at every family gathering.”
“It’s not about the wheelchair itself, it’s about her trying to steal the moment. Again.”
“If she needed it/weren’t using it for drama, it would make far more sense to inform other relatives so they know ahead of time.” ~ AnakinSkywalkerisfav
The OP provided an update:
“I’m going to do a mass blast to all my relatives, saying Anna is in a wheelchair and unsure if she will be able to make it to my wedding. Keep my sister in their thoughts and prayers.”
“I’m gettin’ ahead of this.”
It’s unclear if the OP will still be barring her sister from attending her wedding based on her update.
Whatever she decides, hopefully, her wedding goes off without a hitch.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/