Dear Abby

DEAR ABBY: I have a much older sister who has become very religious. Most of her life decisions are based on her faith, so conversations tend to develop into faith-oriented topics and justifications. I don't initiate these conversations, and I make a genuine effort to understand her perspective. When I am not able to, I have mastered the "smile and nod."

My problem is, anytime I bring a friend or date to a family function, she drags them off to the side and begins to question and discuss the importance of faith. Since religion is a widely varied and highly sensitive topic, this can sometimes be uncomfortable. I recently asked her to stop doing it, and I haven't heard from her since. How can I explain healthy boundaries to her so we can have a respectful relationship?

— Younger brother in Georgia

DEAR YOUNGER BROTHER: If part of your sister's religion is advancing it or converting others to her faith, you won't be able to convince her to stop. I agree that what she's doing can come across as obnoxious. Because you can't control what she says or does, you may have to stop bringing friends or dates to family functions where you know she'll be present. Otherwise, warn them in advance so they can either avoid being cornered or get away from her.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.