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I love my sister, but...


TheD87

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I am having a real rough time now with a conflict of emotions and I don't know how to treat this situation.

 

My sister is 29, 3 years older than me. She has made, in my opinion, a lot of bad life choices, and my parents have been there every time in my opinion to bail her out, so she never learned her lessons and now she is in a horrible situation and so are my parents because of it.

 

It started all the way back in HS, my sister almost flunked out, my parents threatened to send her to a private school if her grades didn't get better, her grades didn't get better but my parents didn't follow through on their threat. Throughout HS and shortly after she always dated losers, guys who were dropouts or had little futures. She got a license to work at a salon when she graduated HS, but got pregnant at the age of 21 with her bf, and they quickly got married. He is a hard worker, but he has no education, so he works as a mechanic and barely made enough for them to get by. My parents basically bought them a house to live in too. My mom was their personal babysitter while my sister worked. They decided they wanted a second kid, and my parents told them that they couldn't afford it, that my mom couldn't babysit two kids all day and it wasn't a good idea. My mom said if they had a second kid they would need to find another babysitter. Well they had the second kid. He was born with a form of autism, he functions well but has trouble communicating. My mom backed off her threat and went right back to babysitting for her all the time.

 

They were barely getting by with two kids, especially one of them being autistic, and my sister "accidentally" got pregnant again. So now she has 3 kids, ages 7, 3, 1 with the 3 year old being autistic. My mom still babysits all the time, and my mom helps them pay for another helper who goes there to help out. My sister had to stop working as well. My dad is at an age where he could retire, and he probably would have by now if he wasn't basically helping my sister out so much.

 

Now my sister found that her husband had a profile on Ashley Madison (whether he used it or not, that is up for debate), and with the 3 kids around, both of them are always tired and exhausted and get on each others nerve. So now my sister is talking to a divorce attorney.

 

I love her, and I think her husband definitely has some issues. But all her poor choices have been bailed out by my parents and she has never learned to take care of herself, and now basically the situation she is in now, if they get divorced there is no way she is going to be able to support and take care of her kids, and now my parents who should be at retirement age enjoying their retirement are going to have to work well past when they planned to help finance her and at the same time are probably going to end up having to raise 3 more kids.

 

I don't know what to do. I want to be supportive of my sister and be there for her but at the same time I want to give her a reality check that her actions have effected so many other people and she should think about stuff like that when making decisions.

 

It's just not a good situation all around.

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Hi,

 

I totally understand how worried you must be about your parents and how much it must hurt to see them have to work so hard to look after your adult sister.

 

What I've learned from experience though, is that some parents will not let their kids fall. Even if the kids need to fall. I don't know if your sister needs to fall - that might be too drastic given the fact that she now has kids that will also suffer if she does. But whether she does or not - I doubt your parents will let that happen. No matter how much it hurts them to keep her up - it may just hurt them more to let her fall. Because there are no guarantees that if she falls, she will pick herself up and be stronger. And that freaks some parents out and they won't take that risk.

 

I think the best you can do is be there for your parents - talk to them regularly, encourage them to care for themselves and think about their health etc.

 

I'm not sure that there's a huge amount more that you can do. If there are steps your sister can take to make this situation better - you can encourage her to do so. You probably think she should find a job - but if one of her children is autistic - mothers often find that the child makes more progress if the mother is at home interacting with them as often as possible. So going to work may not necessarily be the right thing for her right now.

 

I'm sorry your family is in such a tough situation because of some bad choices that your sister made. I hope things get better in the future for you all.

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Yea I don't think there are many good options now. Obviously at this point my parents can't let my sister fail with 3 grand kids involved, I just wish they would have let her done it way earlier in life so she would have learned her lesson and we wouldn't be here in this situation now. But thinking like that won't change anything.

 

And basically my parents are in trouble whether my sister goes back to work or not. If she does go to work, then my mom will end up baby sitting all day every day again while my sister worked, or would have to pay for a babysitter because my sister doesn't have the skills to get a high enough paying job that would be able to pay for a sitter/daycare and be able to cover her costs. And if she doesn't go back to work, then obviously my parents are going to have to chip in more money and my dad will have to work longer instead of retiring like he planned. It's not like my parents are rich either. My mom doesn't work, my dad makes a comfortable living, but adding all the expenses of her and her family is definitely making money tight for them. My younger sister is also in college now too which is an expense my parents are paying.

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I can understand the frustration you must be feeling.

 

It might help to look at it this way: Human beings are simply not programmed to do things that don't benefit them in some way. So, your parents are likely getting benefits out of this situation, even if you don't see it that way. For example, you may think your mom should take up a spinning class or something, have hobbies, etc. And that your dad should be retired and playing golf. But maybe your mom loves the time she gets to spend with her grandkids and would rather be with them than doing something else. And maybe your dad doesn't want to quit working because he'd feel bored. And maybe they both aren't ready to stop being fulltime parents because that is a comfortable role which emotionally nourishes them.

 

You do have every right to put limits on what you will do for your sister, and to encourage both her and your parents to do what will benefit them most. But listen carefully and figure out whether what they feel would benefit them fits with what you feel would benefit them.

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So my mom is mad at me now because I "am the only family member still friends with (her husband) on facebook".

 

First of all it didn't even cross my mind, I don't think about stuff like that. And second I don't know why she was looking to see if I was still friends with him. And really I don't want to get in the middle of this and cause more drama...

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Ug. My husband's parents are in the same position. Except...they have 3 adult children that can't get it together and only one (my husband) that can. Granted, like his siblings, your sister isn't really doing anything directly to YOU. But I completely understand how hard it is to have a positive relationship with someone you can't respect and incredibly frustrating to watch someone make the same mistakes over and over again without learning from them. Both your sister AND your mom are guilty of this.

 

But here's the thing- Otti is right. People do what they want to do. While your mom may complain from time to time, she has and always has had the choice to say "no". If she didn't want to get in that car every day and drive to your sister's house, there is nothing in the world your sister could do to make her. So while the situation may not be ideal, you have to realize your mom is getting some kind of reward from this. She would rather spend the day with her grandkids than not.

 

Really, all I think you can do is continue to set a good example for them all by being a productive, responsible, sensible adult. Maybe your nieces and nephews will pick up on it!

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Haha, I could have written this same post.

 

My sister, who is 4 years older than me, has been screwing up in life since she was a kid. Never learned from her mistakes. Still doesn't. Why? Because mom and dad, just like yours, bail her out of everything. Always have, always will. They are enablers. She's 37 and still lives at home with them!!

 

From my experience, you just have to get over it and get used to it. You can't expect either your sis or your parents to change, just because you make them aware of what's really going on here. I've tried in the past to talk to my parents (they, too, are in retirement age and cannot seem to get a break here!), but it really never did anything. It seems to be written in their DNA somewhere that they must continue to clean up after my sister and her mistakes. Talking to my sister about this is totally useless. She has an attitude and it would do more harm than good to even say anything. She's an adult. She should be figuring this crap out all on her own at this point. And so should your sister.

 

They're ALL adults (technically- lol). And they'll live their lives the way they want to live them. They make their own choices. Just be happy that you're not like any of them and go about your life.

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The ironic part is part of the reason I have such an issue with it is because that is how I was raised. My mom has an older brother and my dad a younger sister who both had their parents taking care of them well into their later adult lives, and in my uncle's case (mom's brother), he got a job and his dad business and gets paid a ton to barely do any work and still complains and my grandpa still takes care of them. So growing up both my parents complained all the time about their siblings getting that sort of treatment and how it stunted their siblings from becoming adults and learning life lessons. Now they are doing the exact same things I grew up hearing them complain about.

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The ironic part is part of the reason I have such an issue with it is because that is how I was raised. My mom has an older brother and my dad a younger sister who both had their parents taking care of them well into their later adult lives, and in my uncle's case (mom's brother), he got a job and his dad business and gets paid a ton to barely do any work and still complains and my grandpa still takes care of them. So growing up both my parents complained all the time about their siblings getting that sort of treatment and how it stunted their siblings from becoming adults and learning life lessons. Now they are doing the exact same things I grew up hearing them complain about.

 

I get where on paper, this does not make sense. However, it is a VERY common scenario. Most people dread turning into their parents when they get older on the surface of their mind. But deep down, they have never shaken off what they actually observed during their formative yrs as normal, family behavior. So despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves displaying some of the bad habits we witnessed over and over again as kids.

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