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Issues with my sister

My sister (she's 26) constantly makes poor decisions.  She ran away from home at 17, and ever since then has bounced around from job to job and place to place.  Early on when she left I know there were drugs and drinking involved, now she just smokes (cigarettes and pot). She and her husband just moved back in with our parents in September.

She just found out a couple of weeks ago that she's pregnant.  She's trying to cut back on the cigarettes and I hope has cut out the pot, but I'm not supposed to know about that and she just gets angry whenever anyone questions her on anything so I haven't asked.  She's on her second job since she moved home in September, though this one seems to be going well.  My BIL is on his third job, but this one seems promising as well, and I'm very happy that at least this is going well for them.  They're both good people, but they make really stupid decisions all of the time.

My issue is their latest decision on where to live.  They've decided to get a place and have one of their friends move in.  This guy was doing a roofing job with my BIL and they ended up not finishing the job on time because their friend got a DUI on the way to the job site and got arrested.  This was not his first offense, and according to them, he's very irresponsible.  My S and BIL were both complaining non-stop about this guy when he got arrested, and now they want to move in with him.  Every apartment they've had they've shared with friends, and every single time it hasn't worked out.

I'm frustrated because this is just one example of the two of them making the same mistake over and over again.  We all make mistakes, but you're supposed to learn from them.  Now my sister's pregnant and is going to be getting a place with an alcoholic who likes to party all the time and is irresponsible (their words).  I'm beyond stressing about how their mistakes effect them, but now they're bringing my future niece or nephew into a crappy situation.

If she asks me what I think, I intend to tell her, diplomatically, my opinion.  I told my mom that if she moves in with this guy neither my husband nor I will help them move.  I said that I have no intention of cutting them out of my life or refusing to visit, but that I am done enabling her poor decisions and helping her act them out.  My mom thinks that since my sister won't listen to anyone this will just cause hurt feelings and friction in the family.  My opinion is that at some point we all need to stop enabling her and practicing tough love, and that we need to do it NOW, before she has a kid so that hopefully she'll get some responsibility before the child comes.  They have no savings, work part-time, have no health insurance, my BIL just last week passed his test for his GED (which I am very proud of him for and helped him study for), they're just not at all prepared for taking care of themselves, much less a child.

Am I picking the wrong hill to die on?  Odds are that if I refuse to help them move in with this guy my sister and BIL be extremely pissed at me and possibly stop talking to me.  I haven't put many details in here on her because I didn't want to make it even longer, but the past nine years have started with her trying to get my dad arrested on false charges of child abuse (and my younger brother was only 13 at the time, so it was a big deal) to now her and her husband living back home with many years of bad life decisions in between.  I love her and my BIL and will never let them or my future niece or nephew be homeless, but I feel like I need to stop helping her make poor decisions.  I've given her lots of money (over $1,000) in the past and enabled her in many ways, so I'm guilty like my parents are, even though I haven't done that for years.  It sucks because I was so happy that my BIL got his GED, they both have jobs that are promising, they moved back in and are trying to save money and it looked like they were going to finally start to get on track, and now they're pregnant, going to move out of a stable home, and into one with an alcoholic. 

Re: Issues with my sister

  • So you realize you all need to stop enabling her, but your'e wondering if this is the hill to die on.  Well, if it's not this hill, what hill will it be?

    At some point, when you do make a stand, they are going to be upset and your BIL will be pissed.  That's how it's going to work. You have to accept that.  There is no way to stop enabling them and have it go nice and peacefully and they just suddenly realize "oh yea, J.T. is right!". 

    But here's the thing- you want to stop enabling them, but then you say you'd never let them be homeless.  As long as they know this, they know that in the end, no matter what they do, they'll be saved by someone. 

     

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • Sigh.  That is exactly what my brother said when I told him that I wouldn't give them any more money, but that I would buy them food and make sure he had a place to stay.  He said "so then you'll still be enabling her". 

    You're both right.  I guess if things got really bad and I was worried about the welfare of my niece or nephew I could always go to DCF or take other drastic measures so that I could take care of him/her.  I get pissed at my parents for not letting her hit rock bottom, but then I do the same thing.  It sucks because she always talks about doing the right thing or starts to do it, then screws it up along the way and makes another crappy decision.  They're both good people and hard workers, but they need to get their sh!t together.

  • Your S and BIL sound exactly like my SIL and BIL. Only difference is... my SIL & BIL were at this point 21 years ago. Let me tell you what has transpired since then.

    MIL & FIL, for the past 21 years, have spent thousands of dollars each and every year to "help" them stay afloat. There is not a single year that they have survived on their own. Things that I know my IL's have paid for include the mortgage and car payments, electricity, gas, food (MIL was known to stop at Costco before visiting them and spend >$500 to stock their house with 'real' food), all things related to Christmas, car repair bills (because they wouldn't get a simple oil change on time), health insurance payments to the tune of $800/month... the list goes on and on. They are now in their 40's, have three children, ages 17, 19, and 21, and a grandchild who was just born yesterday. 

    None of them have any earthly idea how to survive on their own. I know this for a fact, because the 19-year old stayed with me for a couple months last year... the kid was too lazy to address an envelope or fill out an online form for unemployment. This was what he learned from his parents: "Don't worry about anything... something will work out". I heard that from him countless times in two months, and my MIL confirmed to me that is the house-motto of sorts in that family.

    When I've asked my MIL why she continued to do it.. she always came back to the same answer... "I couldn't let my grandkids go without". But I have had to point out that instead she had her grandkids grow up with no idea how to survive on their own. It has hurt... as since the 19 year old is now a daddy, DH and I have really pressured MIL & FIL to stop the cycle of enabling. It has caused a hugh rift in the family... SIL & BIL are now pissed beyond belief at MIL, FIL, DH and I because we are no longer paying for anything for them. This would have been much easier had it been done when they were 20, rather than at 40.

  • I had the same conversation with my dad last month.  I told him that I'm worried about him and my mom paying for everything because a) that money should be going towards their retirement fund and b) what's going to happen when they're not around to pay for everything anymore.  Of course, that makes me a big hypocrite if I'm not willing to let them completely fail. 

    Right now my parents are talking to realtors to try to find a house with an in-law set-up so they can all live together.  I have been very vocal with my parents about how I feel about that.  I think it is completely irresponsible for them to start over again on a home loan.  My dad is 55 and needs to be starting to seriously save for retirement, not start a new mortgage.  They've paid vet bills, car repair bills, they pay for all food for them, and my sister and BIL don't pay for rent or utilities.  Yet they have $0 saved up.  Where the hell is their money going?  My sister is 26 and my BIL is 27, they're not kids and they need to learn to stand on their own two feet.  My H and I make decent money between the two of us, but only enough to support ourselves and the family we hope to have one day, not us, my sister, her family, and my parents when they run out of money because they spent it all on my sister.

    I told my mom today that we all need to stop supporting these bad decisions and she said "easier said then done".  Of course it is, but we still need to do it.  My sister wouldn't talk to our family for 2 years after she ran away, and my parents are terrified that will happen again, and especially now that she's pregnant.  I understand and agree with them to an extent, but just because she might do that doesn't mean we should just continue on as things have been. 

    It sucks because I know that taking a stand will damage my relationship with my sister and my parents, but enough is enough.  I was worried that it would seem ridiculous to push back over something as minor as this (compared to her other shenanigans), but I appreciate being told that it's not crazy and that I need to stop being part of the problem.

  • imageChris71678:

    But I have had to point out that instead she had her grandkids grow up with no idea how to survive on their own. It has hurt... as since the 19 year old is now a daddy, DH and I have really pressured MIL & FIL to stop the cycle of enabling. It has caused a hugh rift in the family... SIL & BIL are now pissed beyond belief at MIL, FIL, DH and I because we are no longer paying for anything for them. This would have been much easier had it been done when they were 20, rather than at 40.

    Good for you!  This is horribly morbid, but your MIL isn't going to be here forever.  SHE is the one helping those grandkids out.  what happens when she's gone? They have no basic life skills right now to fall back on.

    OP - this is what will happen w/ your neice/nephew if you all keep enabling your sister. 

    "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
    ~Benjamin Franklin

    Lilypie Third Birthday tickers
    DS dx with celiac disease 5/28/10

  • imageJ.T.:

    I told my mom today that we all need to stop supporting these bad decisions and she said "easier said then done".  Of course it is, but we still need to do it.  My sister wouldn't talk to our family for 2 years after she ran away, and my parents are terrified that will happen again, and especially now that she's pregnant.  I understand and agree with them to an extent, but just because she might do that doesn't mean we should just continue on as things have been. 

    Maybe you need to be a little more frank with her. Would she rather see her daughter everyday for the next 20 years? But have them fall into pieces once she is gone?  Or would she rather go a few years now with your S upset with her, but give Sis a chance to staighten up and make a life for herself. Your Mom will be able to live knowing that once she is gone, her daughter and grandchildren will be able to live a good life without her.

    If a baby bird doesn't leave the nest on its own, the momma will push it out. Sometimes as humans we forget that this is what is necessary sometimes.

    Also on another note... my FIL is now 70 years old. Since they stopped paying for SIL & BIL just 6 months ago, he has realized that he can now retire. Yes... at 70 he was still working full time, because he thought he couldn't afford to retire. They really didn't realize how much $$$ was going out the door every single month. He is now set to retire in just a few months (he is only staying that long to finish up some projects he working on). The sad part is... he could have retired years ago.

  • What relationship?

    Your sister says "jump" and if you say "no, there is a steep, dangerous hole down there" she gets angry, stops talking to you and stops letting you help her?

    Sweetie, you don't want to move her into an active alcoholic's apartment. You don't have to. You don't even have to have an argument about it. "I think its a bad idea and don't want to help you do it" can end the conversation.

    Her being furious and punishing you by fracturing your relationship is just her threatening you to get what she wants - no matter how bad the decision.

    You're telling her to stop it and straighten out. Take your own advice. And then deal with the consequences. Something tells me she'll start talking when she wants something new and with a baby and an alcoholic as a roommate, she'll need plenty.

  • it is time to wipe your H of the whole mess and walk away.

    I also have a sister like you and parents like yours. They have always been there to pick up her mess.  mine has has steady work , but never a really good job, not enough to make ends meet(she has college degree). So, mom and dad did all those same things..gas, food, bd gifts, xmas, etc..It drove me crazy for years and years...i was fighting with my parents about it all the time. I myself never gave her a penny, but she wastaking it from my older parents.

    It was hard for me but i finally decided that this is THIER problem, and it was their money and there was nothing i could do about it. I toldmy mother NOT to call me and bitoch about her, complain about her, tell me her problems, tell me how I should treat her, expalin her poor situtation to me, tell me i should be more understanding...etc..I told her none of it!

    Right before my mom died and my ister lost her job(because of some stalking)and my parents were considering buying her a house! thank god my father asked the rest of the sibilings before he did it and we all told him the same thing WTF? I reasoned with him and had a non emotional conversation with him(mom wasnt here) and in the end they decided against it. whew

    BUT..my mothers excuse was always "the grandkids".

    My mother is gone now so it has gotten a little better i think..but i had to walk away and let it go. You do too.



  • imagemagsugar13:

    it is time to wipe your H of the whole mess and walk away.

    I also have a sister like you and parents like yours. They have always been there to pick up her mess.  mine has has steady work , but never a really good job, not enough to make ends meet(she has college degree). So, mom and dad did all those same things..gas, food, bd gifts, xmas, etc..It drove me crazy for years and years...i was fighting with my parents about it all the time. I myself never gave her a penny, but she wastaking it from my older parents.

    It was hard for me but i finally decided that this is THIER problem, and it was their money and there was nothing i could do about it. I toldmy mother NOT to call me and bitoch about her, complain about her, tell me her problems, tell me how I should treat her, expalin her poor situtation to me, tell me i should be more understanding...etc..I told her none of it!

    Right before my mom died and my ister lost her job(because of some stalking)and my parents were considering buying her a house! thank god my father asked the rest of the sibilings before he did it and we all told him the same thing WTF? I reasoned with him and had a non emotional conversation with him(mom wasnt here) and in the end they decided against it. whew

    BUT..my mothers excuse was always "the grandkids".

    My mother is gone now so it has gotten a little better i think..but i had to walk away and let it go. You do too.

     

    I'm glad you guys were able to talk your dad out of it.  My parents are saying that they're buying a house as an "investment" and that it's one they can all live in.  They're trying to convince my brother and I that they're not actually doing it for my sister, even though this idea never was brought up until she moved home.  They have a house, and that house is their investment.  Selling it and buying a new one with an in-law set-up is stupid, especially since my sister has made clear that she intends to move back to VT one day.  She would have zero issues with going to VT and leaving them holding the bag with a higher mortgage because she's told them all along that it's a strong possibility.

    You guys are right and I need to take myself out of this equation and stop helping.  My parents are well aware how my brother and I feel about this whole situation, and now my actions need to back up what I'm saying.  I'll continue to help them with productive things, like helping my BIL study for his GED, but I will not give them any money or groceries or help them carry out any of the poor decisions that they're making.  Hopefully I can hold to that!

  • "I'm glad you guys were able to talk your dad out of it.  My parents are saying that they're buying a house as an "investment" and that it's one they can all live in.  They're trying to convince my brother and I that they're not actually doing it for my sister, even though this idea never was brought up until she moved home.  They have a house, and that house is their investment.  Selling it and buying a new one with an in-law set-up is stupid, especially since my sister has made clear that she intends to move back to VT one day.  She would have zero issues with going to VT and leaving them holding the bag with a higher mortgage because she's told them all along that it's a strong possibility."

    My MIL and FIL bought a house for my BIL.  My BIL makes terrible decisions as well, he was arrested and sent to jail one month after they purchased the house for him.  Two weeks after he was arrested, the house was broken into by people BIL owed money to.  They destroyed the house (threw paint on the wall, ripped out the carpets, even pulled coils out of the heating unit).  This all came back on my IL's.  My IL's, I think are done helping BIL out, but we will not really know for sure until he is out of Jail again.  At least there is not grandchildren involved in our family situation.  What a nightmare that would be.

     

     

     

     


     

  • imageJ.T.:

    I told my mom that if she moves in with this guy neither my husband nor I will help them move.  I said that I have no intention of cutting them out of my life or refusing to visit, but that I am done enabling her poor decisions and helping her act them out.  My mom thinks that since my sister won't listen to anyone this will just cause hurt feelings and friction in the family. 

    Changing the status quo ALWAYS causes friction.  That doesn't mean that you can't make any changes.  You accuse your sister of "doing the same thing over and over, and not learning from her mistakes," but you have been doing the same thing!  Pot, meet kettle!

    imageJ.T.:
      

    My opinion is that at some point we all need to stop enabling her and practicing tough love, and that we need to do it NOW, before she has a kid so that hopefully she'll get some responsibility before the child comes. 

    The thing is, you can't decide what "we" need to do.  You can only decide what YOU need to do.  Your mom isn't on the same place that you are, so don't expect her to join you in tough love land.  That is her choice - but if she continues to enable your sister, you DO have the choice to stop listening to your mom complain or give updates on your sister.

    imageJ.T.:
      

    Am I picking the wrong hill to die on?  Odds are that if I refuse to help them move in with this guy my sister and BIL be extremely pissed at me and possibly stop talking to me. 

    That is a consequences of your actions, but what is the alternative?  Letting her continue you live irresponsibly?  Continuing to lend her money?  If you think that having your sister and her H move in with a partying alcoholic is a bad choice, you can't stop her, but YOU need to do what is right for you.  Don't give her the judgey speech, just tell her "I think this move is a bad idea, and I can't help you with it."  If she stops speaking to you, that's the way it goes.  It is better than YOU giving up your own sense of values to accomodate a bad choice. 

    imageJ.T.:
       

    I love her and my BIL and will never let them or my future niece or nephew be homeless, but I feel like I need to stop helping her make poor decisions.  I've given her lots of money (over $1,000) in the past and enabled her in many ways, so I'm guilty like my parents are, even though I haven't done that for years. 

    Then prepare for a lifetime of bailing her out.

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