Family Matters
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How to help without supporting the problem?

WARNING: This is a long one!

So I'll go ahead and give a little bit of an introduction, I'm young ( I won't give you my exact age though) and married. My husband and I are long distance for the time being, he lives in Nebraska and I live in Texas until May, then I will move in with him. He has always been a great support to me and always makes sure I'm happy, and is truly a great man.

But I'm not on here to talk about my husband, but rather the rest of my family... so I am active duty military, I serve in the AF. I went it last July, so have been serving for about a year and half. While I was in basic (like a week after I left) my dad cheated on my mom and left her for a stripper and asked for a divorce. So, when I graduated basic my mom told me that my parents were getting a divorce. Last Christmas I met my dad's stripper (now ex-wife.. it's a long story) and I didn't like her from the start. I'll go ahead and try to keep this more organized and do it by family member, so a timeline of my dad... In March of this year he decided to get married, he didn't even tell me, like I never heard from him ever, except now he told me he's getting a divorce, but my sister is the one who told me they got married, and 2 weeks after he got married he called me to tell me he was "thinking" of marrying her and wanted my opinion, but he had already married her, and he never told me that. So, this woman is pretty crazy, like my sister moved in with my dad and his wife to go to school (my parents got rid of the house in the divorce) and my sister had a cat, and it pretty much just died because my dad and his wife refused to buy food for it, like serious animal abuse problems. It pissed off everybody. And this woman also beats her daughter (which is why my dad decided to leave her). So, like in October my dad decided to leave this woman, and moved in with his brother and took my sister with him, and he also took a woman who was a roommate of his now-ex-wife, because he had been cheating on his wife with this woman. Well, this woman pissed off my uncle, and she got kicked out, and rather than my dad staying to remain with his daughter and help raise his daughter, he picked to be HOMELESS with his GIRLFRIEND, and then called me asking for $200. I didn't know the whole story, so I gave it to him. And apparently on Friday he went over to my uncle's house to get some things, and didn't even say hi to my sister, who was in her room. Like he doesn't even acknowledge her, and he is really hurting her. So, that's my dad.

Now for my mom. After the divorce she started dating this guy, who seemed pretty cool in the beginning, but around February-March my mom found some stuff on his phone, like pictures and messages to other women that made her feel uncomfortable since her ex-husband had cheated on her, so dumped him, understandably. Then I was able to go home for a week in June, and the first day I got there (Saturday) my mom went out with a new guy. He was like a dream guy for her. He is from the south, has an accent, owns horses, and a big momma's boy, everything wonderful. He served in the marine corps, but got discharged medically and so he is on disabilities and whatnot. Seems like a pretty nice guy. But his account gets broken into and he has no money. Before we leave, he asks to borrow $100 and says he'll pay us back in 2 days, because the VA should be taking care of the money soon. We give it to him. Then, after I've left, he keeps asking my husband for money, and in the end it ends up being around $700. All he says he'll pay back as soon as he can, because he is a man of his word, but whenever he gives us a date, it always gets pushed back and pushed back again. My mom marries this guy after knowing him for about 3 weeks, (which my husband gives them the money to get married). And something was always fishy with him, because something bad always happened, his parents died, and every time he was supposed to go south to sell the farm they own something bad would happen, and he had no money, yet he kept taking my mom to look at million dollar homes. Well, about a week ago he came clean that basically everything he ever said was a lie. He lived in the south for a year. He was dishonorably discharged from the marines. His parents are both alive. He has no money, no job, no nothing. This is after my mom lost her house, because she couldn't pay her rent, and quit her job to take care of him (he has epilepsy). So now I'm pretty pissed at this man, because he basically stole $700 from us, by telling us he was borrowing it when he knew he wasn't going to be able to pay it back. And he has lied to my mother about everything since they met. I can't stand him, and don't even want to see him when I go home for Christmas, but my mom says she really cares about him and she is going to stay with him. I'm shocked honestly. But well, that's my mom.

Now for my sister. My sister is 16, so she still is under the guardianship of my parents. My dad is supposed to pay child support, but he won't. Right now he can't, since his work burned down to the ground (I actually saw it on the news, it's legit). My mom is living with my aunt, and my sister is living in a different town with my uncle. She basically doesn't have contact with my parents, and my dad doesn't care. My mom IS trying. Despite not having any money, whenever she can scrounge up even a few extra pennies she'll spend it on my sister. I felt bad for my sister, so despite having already gotten her a Christmas present I went out and spent about 150 on her last weekend because I think it's sad she isn't going to get anything because our parents can't prioritize. And my sister is just stuck. She doesn't get along with my husband, but I talked to my husband, and he agreed that if one of my parents would give up guardianship he and I would take her to live with us in Nebraska. I told my sister, and she said she didn't want to because she wouldn't want to put any stress on our marriage. She really cares. I just don't know what to do for her. I feel so bad for her, because I was just lucky enough to get out right before all this went down, but she is just stuck there. She doesn't want anything to do with our dad, or my mom's husband, which I completely understand. My dad hasn't even talked to me ever since he I gave him the money.

I talked to the uncle that my sister is staying at, and told them if they need any financial assistance with my sister, or if she needs anything, bras, underwear, a toothbrush, anything, to tell me and I'll take care of it. I also plan on taking her shopping for anything she needs when I get home for Christmas. I want to help her out, she probably isn't going to graduate high school at this point, she doesn't have like any credits, but my mom is talking about sending her to an alternate school so she can maybe graduate. I really hope she does. I'm going to tell her at Christmas that if she graduates I'll buy her either a tablet or a laptop as a graduate present, try to get some motivation.

But anyway, I just don't know what to do. Both of my parents are just barely scraping by, my dad owes me $200 and my mom $2000. I mean, I don't need the money, my husband and I are fine. It's just like, I don't want to give them any more money because I feel like I'm supporting this lifestyle and I'm not. But I also don't want to see my family suffer so much. Any advice??

Re: How to help without supporting the problem?

  • Fleur67Fleur67 member
    5 Love Its First Comment
    edited December 2014
    That is a crazy year!

    Ok, I will be blunt. Stop giving your parents money. They are grown adults who made their own bad decisions. They have to learn from their mistakes and while you can sympathize with their problems, you cannot give them money any longer. Your parents owe you a lot of money and a part of me thinks you should forgive the debt but stop giving hand outs

    The real support should go to your sister because she is still a kid. I feel bad for her because I have been in the middle of my parents' divorce and all of the bad decisions they made with their boyfriends/girlfriends. I think the best you can do is be there for her and if she does need some financial help, lend a hand.
  • Stop giving your parents money.  You aren't helping them in the long run, just enabling bad behavior. The longer you help them out, the longer it will take them to figure this out on their own.  Just stop no matter how much they beg and no matter how much they say they are suffering.  Think about it, if you weren't around, they would figure something else out right ?  

    Besides, you are now married and that is your husband's money too.  
  • To echo everyone else, not another dime to either of your parents. Don't send money to your sister or other family members for her either. When you're home you can figure out what she needs until you see her again and get it for her.

    I feel horrible for your sister. She needs to get back in school and get a plan together asap. Can you schedule a meeting with a school counselor while you are there? She is going to have to take care of herself and step one is a high school diploma. She HAS to get on track for at least that. Seriously, this has to be the focus here. 

    Is your sister working? If not, she needs to get a job too. 

    Instead of buying her a computer or something for graduation, how about offering to help her with community college. It's such a great value for education. There are tons of options to work and continue education toward a solid future. 

    As a far as your parents, it appears they are incapable of making sound decisions. Just stay out of their mess and tell them you don't have any money to give. Then, don't offer any info at all regarding yiur financial situation. It's none of their buisness.
  • Wow!  That is some drama!

    Ditto 1000x to everyone who says stop giving your parents handouts.  Your parents made their own choices.  They are adults, and will not change unless they have to. If they ask for money, tell them you will only pay for a cranial-anal ectomy (ie: to remove their head from inside their a$$). 

    Suze Orman (whether you like her or not, this is pretty good advice) says that if someone is in a jam for something outside of their control / temporary, then it's great to help them out.  In your parent's instance, these are all choices.  Not working IS A CHOICE.  Shacking up with / marrying a stranger is A CHOICE.  Taking care of or living with a spouse, instead of THEIR DAUGHTER is A CHOICE.

    Your sister, on the other hand, is not even old enough to legally make decisions on her own, and is placed in a horrible bind.  As long as you can, I would help her to move forward with her basic needs and her education.  Whether it is summer school classes, a GED class, community  college....whatever it takes to help her move forward with her life.  

    Do not spend a DIME on your parents.  They both have partners/spouses who can help them.  Any money you give them is money you could be spending building a life with your husband, or contributing towards your sisters care.

    PS: Thank you for your service.
    image "Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.
  • Thank you guys. I have pretty much already planned on not helping my parents out financially any more. They both need to grow up and take care of their own decisions, and they have found ways to get buy when I am not helping them, so they obviously don't need the money when I do help them, I'm just easier than going and working for odd and jobs and whatnot.

    But at the same time, I do plan on helping my uncle who is taking care of my sister, because my sister doesn't deserve to suffer through this and I trust my aunt and uncle to spend the money wisely, and it isn't going to be loaning them money, it will be helping my sister. I will talk to my sister about what she wants to do after school, community college or whatnot, the hard part is I don't think she's really decided what she wants to do after school, she doesn't think very far into the future so I have no idea.

  • Oh, my goodness, I feel for you, your sister and your family in general. I like the comments others have posted about helping your sister. She sounds stuck for sure. Have you also considered maybe paying for her to see a counselor twice a month or so to deal with all that she's going through? It's an investment, but one that may give her the strength and perspective to handle her future without so much baggage from her past/parents. You're such a caring sister, and your husband sounds like a good man - even though they have their differences, he is willing to take her in.

    Ditto for me, too, on your service for our country!

  • It's hard to try and get a 16 year old to plan for the future, especially with all the disruption she's experienced. I'd recommend she at least take a look at job corps (

    They will help you get your GED and train you in a field and help with job placement in addition to providing health care and housing. If you feel more comfortable with it, I'd consider going to the bank when you visit at christmas and starting a joint bank account with her at a local bank for her. This way if she gets a job, she can have a place to start saving. It also let's you put money directly into her account. Basically as an allowance for her to purchase toiletries and school clothes, etc. 

    It's so great that you and your husband are on the same page about helping your sister and she's very lucky to have you two on her side. You might want to start looking into how guardianship works in the state she currently lives. There may be a time consideration on it and you would need to get the ball rolling prior to your move.

    Good luck!
  • I have offered several times to pay for my sister to go to counseling, but she just isn't comfortable with the idea. In Oregon (that's where she is) there is even free counseling for people with low income families, and I'm positive she would get it since both my parents are unemployed, but she just doesn't want to go. I told her how much it can help, and that I even went for a short period, but it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with me or anything, but she just doesn't want to go .

    I think she may want to be a beautician, so I am looking into beauty schools in her area, so she could go there after. I would offer to help pay for it and any supplies she needs, on the condition she graduates high school. I know it's hard on her, she's dyslexic too, so it's not as if she simply isn't trying in school, it is just REALLY hard for her. Especially with everything that has been going on with our family.

    I think opening a bank account for her is a good idea though. I'm going to talk to my husband about it and see what he thinks. It's hard because I know she has a tendency to blow through cash, so there would have to be like a monthly limit on how much she got, and I want her to earn it somehow too, like she has to show me something from her school or whatnot. I don't want her to just float by thinking she doesn't have to work for it.

    Also, I know she needs to get a job, but she can't right now and that isn't her fault either. She seriously lives 9 miles from one small town (where she goes to school) but where she would be able to get a job is about 13 miles. She doesn't have a car, or even a license, not even a permit, because my mom doesn't want to have to insure her.

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