What to do with adult sister?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 10-10-2009, 02:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I really need to "talk" this out! So, my sister is 7 years younger than me. For the last year and four months she has lived in our apartment. It's a completely separate apartment, no interior entrance. We have been renting it out for about half of our mortgage, plus the electric bill, for most of the time we've lived here. My sister moved in with her boyfriend after they graduated with their Bachelor's Degrees in May 2008. They were suppose to pay half the rent we use to charge, plus work 20 hours a month towards rent. Well, they broke up and he moved out in early fall 2008. During the last year my sister has been working part-time and helping out with my kids 4 to 8 hours a week. She has paid no rent, no utilities to date, except for one payment covering 4 months she made this past September. She eats dinner with us at least 3 nights a week, and often is snacking out of our fridge, etc. It's all been fine, we love her, my kids love her. No hard feelings all around. We decided early on that we wouldn't let her live here if it was more than we could give, financially or emotionally.

Fast forward a year, in August she started dating this guy, let's call him Pete, and she started grad school, all on-line. My daughter went to Kindergarten, and everyone's schedules changed. My sister was only needed to get DD on and off the bus TWO days a week, a total of 3 hours of watching DD only, in a week. 12 hours a month. That's right, room and partial board for 12 hours a month of work,. plus incidental days. These two days were decided based on my sisters work schedule, DS's days in child care were based on her work schedule, MY three days of WOH were based on HER work schedule. In early September our mom had a hip replacement that had major complications, landing Mom in med-rehab for the last month. My work is pending major reorganizations and I stand about a 50% chance of loosing my job early next year. My DH is out of town for most of Sept. and Oct.

Fast forward a month, Pete has become frighteningly controlling. The list of things he doesn't want my sister to do is a mile long- spending too much time on facebook, hanging out with her friends, drinking alcohol (despite the fact he uses drugs), spending time here when she could be with him, not calling when she LEAVES for work vs when she gets there, not cooking food he doesn't like, etc. He is a scary bad news guy. They fight all the time, but somehow, it always resolves and things are better. My sister no longer wants to watch my DD because she wants those afternoons free to go see Pete. She isn't going to see our mom, because she spends that time with Pete. She breaks her commitments to me all the time because she wants to see Pete. They spend all their time at his parents house (he is unemployed, not in school and lives at home). She goes there and gets his niece off the bus, but can't stay here to get her own niece off the bus.

I'm at a loss here. I've always been more of a mother figure to my sister, she calls me "mini-mom" and talks about how my opinion means more than our parents. I am loath to kick her out, but she is not paying rent and wants to stop helping with my kids. She does things like promising to help this weekend while DH is away, but then spending Wed/Thur/Sat/Sun night with Pete. Meanwhile, Pete is mad at her because she came home Friday night (at 10pm) because she had to be at work early on Saturday. She isn't going to go see my mom, help me, or do any of her school work because she wants to see Pete.

What do I do here? I'm afraid to kick her out, because she doesn't have the resources to live alone and I think she'll just go live with Pete and his parents. I can't bear being the one who booted her out, giving her "no choice" but to live with Pete. My entire work schedule was structured around her helping with DD, so changing it all is difficult and will cost us a minimum of an extra day a week in day care for DS. My sister is mad at me, saying that I am "inventing reasons to be anxious" and just need anti-anxiety meds. Or that she was "unaware" that her agreement to babysit was "forever". She isn't going to see my mom either, putting a huge burden on me to get up there to help her (laundry, shopping, etc.) that will only increase when Mom goes home in a week.

I'm so sad, and frustrated. We've had the best sister relationship. We've been so close, despite the age gap. I miss my friendship with her, hanging out and watching Grey's on Thursday's (not allowed by Pete now), talking about nothing and everything for hours. On top of it, my DH is getting really pissed, that she lives here an is costing us real money every month, and isn't helping as promised. I don't want to put DD in after school care, or DS in school an extra day a week. Help! Ideas please, thoughts???

How do I help my sister be independent, and STRONG, and not get sucked into this jerk, while at the same time, preserving what is best for my family??

sleepytime.gifC.- WOHM, CPST Instructor, and all around busy Mama to  blowkiss.gifA.- 02/04, bouncy.gif I. 01/07,babyf.gifE. 09/10 and

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#2 of 8 Old 10-10-2009, 02:36 AM
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Have you tried having a serious talk with her? Telling her about your concerns about this guy, as well as mentioning how you've missed her? And mentioning the rent/work issue?

If you have done that ... honestly, there isn't much that you can do in terms of this guy. Though, obviously a lot you can do in terms of her living there.

This is a totally different situation as we weren't sisters, but we've known one another since age 5 (I'm almost 27 now). We were best friends, and when I first moved to CA, we rented an apartment together. Then, she met a guy. Who was seriously psycho ... like, very controlling and I suspect physically and emotionally abusive. I was afraid to sleep at night with him around.

I talked to her until I was blue in the face ... but, it's amazing how incredibly powerful emotions are. She was completely blind. Finally, I just moved out. I couldn't deal with it. We lost touch for a few years as a result.

Your situation is even more difficult as it's your sister. I can't give advice on something like that as I'm an only child. I suppose, if she's not open to a discussion with you or open to some sort of change in the situation, your best bet is to make the decision that leaves you with the least regret.

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#3 of 8 Old 10-10-2009, 03:05 AM
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I'm a little sister; my sister is 10 years older than I am. She was definitely more of an adult/mother figure to me most of our growing up years. If she told me she had serious reservations about a guy I was dating, I'd listen--when I was ready. Most likely that wouldn't be until after I'd figured out for myself that he was bad news. However, I would have appreciated (once I got the clue) that she'd tried to warn me.

I think you need to try to help her out as much as you can while still letting her be an adult and take responsibility for her own life. That may mean you need to require that she start paying rent or ask her to leave. That very likely could mean that you have to stand by and watch as she gets hurt. If that's the road she is choosing, though, there really isn't anything you can do to stop her.

Personally, I would offer all the emotional support in the world, but I would stop supporting her financially and I wouldn't keep my kids in her care as long as Pete is around.

I hope you are able to find a solution that works well for your whole family.

Amy loving DH 5/04, raising DD 2/05 and DS 11/09; missing my mom& my babies 6/07, 12/07; and on the side
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#4 of 8 Old 10-10-2009, 01:01 PM
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I almost feel like crying for you . You are in such an awful position. Continuing to support your sister the way you have, which means 0 accountability for her, is easier in many ways. You get to keep your relationship with her intact (although the choices she is making have already started breaking down your friendship), and you can continue to be "mini-mom"- agonizing over her awful decisions but continuing to enable her down that path. Your relationship probably had some elements of co-dependency in it to begin with, but it was working OK for everyone involved. Your sister has now pushed the boundaries into a really dysfunctional place and it's so heart-breaking because if you want to REALLY help her you are going to have to make some REALLY hard decisions and the fall-out will be on you. You'll have to deal with her anger, hurt and rejection because she is used to you supporting her no matter what she does. You will have to deal with extreme guilt. You might have to deal with criticism from other family members because everyone assumes you will help her pick up the slack of her immaturity. On the flip side, it is really the only thing you can do to actually, for real, HELP her become a fully-functioning, accountable, mature adult. The fact that she is with this loser means that she may not feel like she deserves more, maybe because people have been picking up the slack for her all her life and she has never developed the self-respect from having to do hard things on her own (like living independently). You have been enabling her to stay stuck in her immaturity and lack of character but it is coming to a crossroads now. You either pick the route that lets you feel like the good big sister (but hurts your own family, and you in a less obvious way), or you put up the boundaries and allow her to develop some character and maturity. You will have to watch her fall flat on her face and probably blame it on you. You will have to choose not to own her behavior and the lack of relationship it may cause but you will be giving her a chance to stand on her own two feet. A gift worth the pain in the end. A gift based on pure, unselfish love for her. I'm so sorry you are needing to make this hard decision. If you can- please consider counseling or at least a good book on co-dependent relationships.
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#5 of 8 Old 10-10-2009, 01:22 PM
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My sister is almost eleven years younger than me but I moved out when I was seventeen so we didn't get that type of bond. I agree with everyone else you need to have a serious talk with her on two different occasions about those issues. I wouldn't lump them together because it could be overwhelming but that's just me. When you do talk to her about paying rent or helping out be very specific. Have the rent amount or hours she is to help out written down and have her sign it. Good luck mama.
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#6 of 8 Old 10-12-2009, 07:30 PM
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I second the serious talk. Have you sat her down and told her everything you're concerned about re: Pete and her relationship, but also everything you're upset about re: her relationship with your family and her neice?

That is definitely a major starting point.

But I would also remind her that the original arrangement was based on her working and doing certain things for your family. If she's changing that and is neglecting her responsibilities for her neice, then she should pay rent and she should not abuse her relationship with you.

I understand she probably can't afford to pay rent if she's in school, but you're not doing her any favors by not at least attempting to really hold her responsible. If she is so off in "Pete-land" that she's not even worried about losing her housing, she's got bigger problems anyway.

Oh, one more thing I just thought of- how are the domestic violence resources in your area? If you can find a counselor, and maybe tell your sister you really need her to go with you somewhere and take her to that counselor, your sister might really be positively affected by hearing someone tell her how disturbing and borderline DV Pete's behavior is. It just sounds like it can go NOWHERE good. Plus if he's telling her bad things about herself and she's not telling you... she needs to know that that is also DV behavior to isolate her.

My advice is kinda all over the place but the main theme is "tough love". The sad truth is, if she's determined to follow Pete wherever he wants to take her, no matter how much you love her/try to protect her, she's probably in for a really harsh lesson. Tell her the truth, love her, and don't coddle her because that won't help her either.

Good luck!
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#7 of 8 Old 10-14-2009, 03:50 AM
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First priority needs to be dealing with Pete. He is controlling, manipulative, and who knows how far he will take it.

You need to have a heart-to-heart with her and let he know your concerns about this guy. Be prepared for her to defend him, but at least get the seed planted. In another week's time, talk to her about needing her help so she won't see this as one issue with you trying to "punish" her for her boyfriend. She needs to understand that you are already in a tight position, and can't afford another day of day care each week if she's not paying rent.

Set a date for things to change, and if they don't, you're going to have to get tough. You can't make her leave Pete, nor can you make her help with the kids. Just know that getting her to leave could be tricky. You'll have to go through an eviction process as she is a resident at this point.

It's not an easy position to be in, and I wish you the best.
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#8 of 8 Old 10-17-2009, 02:30 AM
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Hmm... "How do I help my sister be independent and Strong"

I don't think you can do that while putting her up. It's true that if you kick her out she might use that as an excuse to live with this guy. But that could be an important lesson for her. THe longer she stays with you with no rent payments or other responsibilities the longer she puts off having to learn the hard way how to be independent. Some people don't learn how to be independent without actually being forced into it.

I also have a little sister problem, but I don't have any resources for her to mooch off of- instead she mooches on my parents, and they are basically enabling her (she's 32 and living at home, spending years in grad school with no degree, refuses to get a job that is "beneath her" which basically means she gets no job). I think you've been enabling your sister all this time, and it's only getting worse. It's only going to get worse, and the worse it gets the harder it is to pull the plug.
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