Helping out family members financially... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 08-23-2010, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#2 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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bumping since I added info.

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#3 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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Ok first let me say i also have a bi-polar/manic sister and our mom passed away as well. we don't have anyone really. she is living with out adopted grandmother who i do not speak to. TG she doesnt have kids but she is highly irresponsible and always getting into financial issues. i do not hlp her though, she doesnt ask me. however my BFF had issues finding a job a long time ago when we were roomies and i just kept paying the bills...took her nearly a year to get a job and now she owes me a total of $10,000...so i certainly know how hard it is to put you're foot down. the difference is she is actually trying to pay me back.

i reccommend you read co-dependent no more by melody beattie. it helped me alot. just ignore the whole alcoholic thing lol.

obvs you feel responsible for your sister and you love her but shes a big girl now and shes responsible for herself and two other people. her decisions in life have not been wise and she has hardly been left to deal with her consequences so no wonder she keeps doing it to her family.

i vote go cold turkey on her flat out no to everything. tell her you have you're own family to take care of and you have helped her out alot and that you will be there for her physically and emotionally but not financially. you need to be consistent with it or she will never truly get it. every time she asks for money just say no we can not afford that or something to that extent.

be strong (((hugs)))

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#4 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 04:43 PM
 
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You need to cut this woman off. You are absolutely right that your dh married you, not her. I cannot even begin to tell you how furious I would be if I found out that my dh had wired $900 of our money to a family member like your sister.

You seem to feel responsible for her. Stop. And if you can't stop feeling responsible for her, you CAN stop supporting her. Maybe you'll feel guilty at first, but you have got to stop enabling her. I understand that you feel put in a bind by her problems, but you are not the one in a bind. She is, and it's due to her poor choices and to her knowledge that you will be there to bail her out.

I agree with pp. Tell her that you will offer emotional support from now on, but the Bank of Big Sis is closed, permanently.
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#5 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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You just have to decide either you will keep doing it forever and kiss all that money goodbye and not resent it or you have to stop. Those are really the only choices.

In the past five years we've lent out somewhere in the neighborhood of well over $20k to family members. None of it has come back. They have added to their families, gone on vacation, and made major purchases with no one ever saying hey, remember that time I called you crying and ask for $14k...really, I will pay that back one day! It's INFURIATING.

Just say no. It does not matter how much money you send or how often, if you sent a generous 'allowance' ever month it would still disappear and she would need more. Some people are just dysfunctional with money, period.

I feel sad for your sister and her kids, but if you don't have all that money to spare then what are you supposed to do? Keep taking from your own kids because she can't manage her money? That is where I am now. All these people who took money from me with no intention to take it back essentially robbed my daughter of what? A large chunk of college tuition? Private school? Substantial retirement funds from my husband and me? Eventually you just have to cut them off.
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#6 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 06:09 PM
 
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I agree, it's time to end it. You're ultimately not *really* helping her.

To be most fair, I would give her notice. Instead of just saying "no" next time she calls and is in a bind (which will make you feel guilty because saying "no" will mean she's homeless, carless, whatever) tell her now that the free ride is over and it's time for her to figure it out on her own.

Then next time she calls - and oh, she will - well, you'll still feel a little guilty I'm sure, but you can keep reminding yourself: "I TOLD her I wasn't going to do it anymore. SHE made the choices that led to this situation KNOWING she didn't have me to bail her out anymore. This is on her."

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#7 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the tough love mamas. I need to hear it. We grew up in a very dysfunctional home and I see this behavior in my grandmother. I will warn my sister next time I talk to her that we won't be able to help financially anymore. I will get her a couple of books that hopefully will help to educate her about money and just life skills in general. Thanks

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#8 of 14 Old 08-24-2010, 11:51 PM
 
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Hmm. I wonder if we would feel the same tough love impulse about the sister if the sister had cancer, and couldn't get it together to keep housing, etc. Often in our society, we forget that mental illness is still. . . . illness. We praise the person whose willpower we perceive helps them overcome mental illness, and denigrate the other who hasn't the pull. . . but we don't do the same for those who have more immune system power to fight their physical illness. It's not acceptable to denigrate as a weakling the guy succumbing to cancer versus the lady sinking to bipolar. Is the sister also an addict? By her financial behavior it seems that's likely. I do agree that you have done more than necessary for her, but I would still send grocery store gift cards when I could, and send some small ones in separate envelopes for the kids when they're barely ready for it. Also, sometimes people have to face that they can't own a car, and instead need bus passes and bicycles. Has she applied for social services? I've known many people with bipolar and anxiety that also had obvious food allergies, plus there are natural aids to her meds like Natural Calm Magnesium.
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#9 of 14 Old 08-25-2010, 12:38 AM
 
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I second helping her get in touch with social services if she hasn't already. Also the name of any and all other social assistance in her town, food shelf, clothing shelf, holiday assistance organizations, etc. In my town there is even a service station that will fix cars of low income people free of charge. You may have to get on a list and wait but it's free. They use to give out a certain amount of free bus passes, I think that's been cut back, but it would be worth checking out for her in her area. There may be more things.

Your the one that can think rationally and she trusts you, so helping her find other avenues of assistance will help her meet her needs without messing up your marriage and it will help her feel she's a little more independent (even if technically she's just depending on another source). This way when you tell her the purse string is being cut she'll know where to go from then on when she's in a pickle, and you'll know where to remind her to go for it.....
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#10 of 14 Old 08-25-2010, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#11 of 14 Old 08-25-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by provocativa View Post
Hmm. I wonder if we would feel the same tough love impulse about the sister if the sister had cancer, and couldn't get it together to keep housing, etc. Often in our society, we forget that mental illness is still. . . . illness. We praise the person whose willpower we perceive helps them overcome mental illness, and denigrate the other who hasn't the pull. . . but we don't do the same for those who have more immune system power to fight their physical illness. It's not acceptable to denigrate as a weakling the guy succumbing to cancer versus the lady sinking to bipolar. Is the sister also an addict? By her financial behavior it seems that's likely. I do agree that you have done more than necessary for her, but I would still send grocery store gift cards when I could, and send some small ones in separate envelopes for the kids when they're barely ready for it. Also, sometimes people have to face that they can't own a car, and instead need bus passes and bicycles. Has she applied for social services? I've known many people with bipolar and anxiety that also had obvious food allergies, plus there are natural aids to her meds like Natural Calm Magnesium.
My mother committed suicide and was bi-polar and manic depressive, i do agree it IS a disease. She was in "treatment" and on meds and had 3 kids and was a single mom. IMO she needed a job and a social life but was terrified of getting a job b/c she would go into manic states that would last months...she was enabled by her parents financially and my father...not like we had any money still but she ended up dieing with $50,000 debt on credit cards! we never had a house or a new car or any fancy clothes none of that yet still my mother had all of that debt?!
Im sure OPs sister needs more help mentally absolutely, but financially OP enabling her sister is not going to do her any good. My sister has tried to commit suicide over 15x since she was 11 y/o. she has a LOT of problems. I love her dearly and am there for her emotionally and physically and always have been. I know for her it helps to keep busy, she was on SSI for disability for a while and got worse. I got her to get a job and pushed her to do for herself. She now works FT at a bank and is taking care of herself. she still has control issues and impulsive spending issues, but they are her problem and it not a free ride. recently she called me and said she JUST realised she makes $1700 a month and her bills only come to $900 so she's blowing through $800 a month. she asked me to help her set up a budget, I helped her but it's her responsibility to stick to it.
a cancer patient does not have cancer forever they either die or go into remission, a mental disorder is for life. IMO someone who is sick mentally NEEDS to learn how to cope with their illness like any other chronically ill person and try and live to the fullest extent they can.
Clearly OP's sis is a grown woman who has at least half functioned financially, i mean she somehow GOT a mortgage....she has 2 children...she was married even that is a lot more than some people with depression can have. my sis knows she could never be a mom, she doubts she will get married (but I encourage her she will someday), she knows her limits though which is a blessing really.
ANYWAYS
OP: I am not sure what state you are in but I am in MA i know if you go to the welfare office here and you are homeless you can go to a shelter. They have special shelters for moms and their kids or for families if her BF must come...
they can help her get on her feet and find housing. my friend did that and now shes working and has an apartment in housing she pays $270 rent...in MA
she is in counseling and has learned how to budget and everything b/c they make you in order to stay there.
Yes, your sister has a mental disorder, but she is a capable person and CAN do it on her own if she CHOOSES to. either way you can not support her financially.

as a pp said food is one thing. if you want to send her gift cards to supermarkets thats perfectly fine IMO. thats a whole different thing. if my sis wasn't eating i would do that for her.
Idk if your sis is an addict but I know my sis is not one and she can still blow $2000 bucks in a month easy on absolute crap. she used to go out to eat EVERYDAY at about $50 a meal...hello! thats money! but i also thing her food intake may be an addiction in itself...

anyways good luck!

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#12 of 14 Old 08-25-2010, 11:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post
i reccommend you read co-dependent no more by melody beattie. it helped me alot. just ignore the whole alcoholic thing lol.
(((hugs)))
A great book recommendation. Another that we found helpful is Lost in the Shuffle by Richard Subby (I know the last name is spelled wrong but you should be able to find it by the title)

OP, you mentioned that she did have problems with substance abuse in the past. She likely is an addict. There is a term called dry drunk, check it out. Addicts and co-dependents go together like peas and carrots. Read those books, they will open your eyes and be the first step to freeing yourself.

I don't blame your DH one bit for being angry. I would be furious if my DH "gave" money to his family on a regular basis. And he would feel the same if the tables were turned. (Making sure kids have food is one thing but there is no way either of us would be ok with shoring up someone who was making poor financial choices.)

ETA - in my DH's family, there was so much guilt linked to giving family members money and it was a component of the abuse. The was "lending" (and stealing) going on before I met DH and in a way, he used me as an excuse to stop it.

Oh the stories I could tell about asking for money-guilt-abuse-control. OP -something you might want to think about is how your overall family dynamic is impacting your feelings, there may be more than just your sister's mental illness at work.

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#13 of 14 Old 08-26-2010, 08:36 PM
 
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Agreeing with all the PPs - if you keep supporting her, she'll never support herself. Here's another idea: if (big IF) you can afford it and your husband agrees, how about helping her get moved into an apartment, with the very clear understanding that that's it - no more bailouts. That'll at least give her a place to be while she hopefully gets her act together...
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#14 of 14 Old 08-26-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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You might look for some books about enabling. Google on it too, "why enabling doesn't work" or "why enabling isn't actually helpful".

This is classic behavior: "if you don't help me, it will be all your fault when something bad happens to me." It is simply not true.

It is a very difficult cycle to get out of.

You can still love her, just don't give her any more money. You don't have to throw away your marriage, happiness, hard-earned vacation money, because of her bad decisions.

Also - remember that you can lead a horse to water.... She is not likely to just welcome those book recommendations, and turn her life around. Oh thank you so much big sis! (Yeah right!) You can make recommendations, and give advice, but usually people don't care for advice.

It might be better to say, "I have lots of advice and recommendations if you ever want to hear it".

Giving advice actually has the opposite effect that you want. If you keep saying "do this" ... then YOU become the bad guy, and they totally resist "this" even more. It gives them an out in their mind, and makes them justify the bad actions even more.

But you might have to just learn a tagline. Ours is "wow, that sucks." It works for everything. It is so tempting to try and solve their problems!!!! But we just can't. And they don't want advice. Detached sympathy. "I'm sorry you are going through this." But don't take on her problems as your own.

Good luck mama!!

ETA ... I agree that tough love is hard with the mental health issues. However, you can offer advice/help getting medical assistance. You could try ONCE "There are some resources for you, counseling, etc. Just call this number. Or sit with me, and I will call with you". Just don't give her any more money.
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