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I thought this might be the perfect place to come for advice on helping my sister-in-law.
She is newly separated with 2 small kids, 4 and 2.
We got a call one day that she had found proof of her husband cheating and wanted us to come up and move her out. The next day we were there and moved her home.
She is struggling with both unemployment insurance and social assistance. Unemployment doesn't want to pay because she can't go and find a job.....things are so messed up right now.
Social assistance won't touch her because she is not out on the street, we're looking after them and because she had money in her account, its long gone. She's stuck between 2 worlds.

When she married and left here they moved far away and moved and moved and moved. Get a job, quit the job, get a job, quit the job. That sort of thing. Now that she's back I hardly recognize her! She is a diabetic and doesn't look after herself, the babies eat weiners for breakfast and drink pop all day. Its even in their sippy cups!!!!!!!!! I hate to judge but that is not how she was raised and she sees me all day with mine (I have 2 diabetic sons).

I am so torn between taking her up in a big hug and fixing everything for her and on the other hand she could really use some tough love. Our whole family is at the point where we do anything and everything for the kids. We sign up and pay for all the lessons, buy them everything they need, all that. But it really is getting harder and harder to just keep handing over the cars, cash etc to her. Its been 3 months and she just sits around and then goes out on the weekend.

At what point do you think its time for a talk? Or is it ever? Should I just let her make her own way or do I start with the advice? It is really getting hard to watch and there are some times when we just can't figure out where the laziness is coming from! On the other hand there can not possibly be anything harder than raising kids on your own.......that I am absolutely sure of.

I never said anything about the ex because my mom taught me to not say anything if you can't say something nice........and we are SO far from saying something nice it isn't even funny.

Advice ladies.......I really need it!
 

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You need to talk with her. I'm a single mother myself and have been since my daughter was just over 6 months. It's great what you are doing for her because it is VERY tough in the beginning. Can she go to school through unemployement? If she goes to school (she can even go at night) for a trade, she doesn't have to be actively looking for a job. Can she work online from home even if it's just a few bucks a week?

I honestly think you need to talk with her. No need to say anything about the ex but she needs to figure out a plan. You don't have to say "well you do soemthing now or you are out" tell her that it's getting tough and even though you still want to continue to help her, you need to both sit down and help her figure out a plan for getting herself back on her feet. Just my opinoin. It is extremely hard to raise kids on your own but it can be done. I have my own home, a car, food in the house, clothes on our bodies and a full time job... and my income is not big at all.
 
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Also not a lady here, so brace yourself for some "manly advice".

I take it this is DH's sister, not your brother's sister? Because you need to be in agreement with DH about how to handle this, first.

We got a call one day that she had found proof of her husband cheating and wanted us to come up and move her out.
...
But it really is getting harder and harder to just keep handing over the cars, cash etc to her. Its been 3 months and she just sits around and then goes out on the weekend.
Hmm. Wonder why hubby cheated...

At what point do you think its time for a talk? Or is it ever?
2 and a half months ago.

Should I just let her make her own way or do I start with the advice? It is really getting hard to watch and there are some times when we just can't figure out where the laziness is coming from! On the other hand there can not possibly be anything harder than raising kids on your own.......that I am absolutely sure of.
Hun, she's not raising those kids, you are. She is taking advantage of you.

Please understand, I am laying it out as I see it based on what limited info I have, and this is not a judgement of your character, but a statement of facts. If I get a fact wrong, please correct me.

Right now, you are enabling her negative behavior. You are doing her job for her kids, and for her. She is supposed to be a grown up, not a leech. Sadly, what you are doing is giving an alcoholic a drink.

Now you can be diplomatic, but I suggest that you sit her down, without the kids around, and spell things out. You love the kids, and you will bend over backwards to take care of the kids, but they are her kids and her responsibility and SHE has to either start contributing and doing something to pay her own way, or get out.

There will be tears, rage, fury and name calling. Your sister-in-law has been spoiled, somewhere, and its all going to come out in a temper tantrum, but you are the grownups here, it is your house, and your rules. The options are, as I see them:
1) Sis in law gets a job, contributes, and starts being a mom. Not next month, not next week, TODAY the job hunt starts, and if she has to pump gas or flip burgers, thats where she starts.
2) She leaves, the kids stay, you take care of the kids (or Dad does, where is he in all this anyway?), and she gets visitation. (She has to agree to this voluntarily)
3) She leaves, takes the kids, you keep an eye on things and report her to child services if the kids are at all in jeapordy.

Your sis-in-law may be too late to save. You can save the kids.

One other thing - NEVER say anything negative to or about her or the ex in front of the kids. If #2 happens, then "mommy has to be away for a while and she's leaving us with you cause she knows how much we love you" will do until the kids are old enough to understand.

My heart truly goes out to you.

Regards,
G
 

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Oh, yeah, one other note.

You can't fix *anything* FOR her. Sorry - fact of life. Her life, her mind, her body, her soul. You can't fix her, only she can.
 

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Well, is there any chance that what you are perceiving as lazy, is actually something more like depression? If she just lost her husband to cheating, that would at least seem possible. I don't know her, you do...but maybe she needs help. I think I wouldn't allow babies to have coke if it were my house/my coke. But, I don't know if it is you or her that is buying it. If it was me...I would stop buying it or hide it and try to make sure the kids are being fed more nutritious meals.
 

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Its been 3 months and she just sits around and then goes out on the weekend.
At what point do you think its time for a talk? Or is it ever? Should I just let her make her own way or do I start with the advice? It is really getting hard to watch and there are some times when we just can't figure out where the laziness is coming from!
You and your family have been more than wonderful to your sister-in-law but it's time that she start acting like an adult and take responsibility for her life and her children, they need her.

As much as I know you all want to help her, you all are enabling her. There's nothing wrong with helping her get a lift up to get things moving and put into motion. But it sounds like she is just sitting there and taking advantage of all that is being given.

If she can go out on the weekends she can find a job, file child and spousal support charges against her husband, find programs that will help her with health care, housing and such. It's time she become a big girl.

JMO
 

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I agree today you need to talk with her and lay down the law.


Why can't she get a job???

If she is not working she does not need to use your car .

Have her apply for help again and go with her to hear what they say.


this can destroy your family

I kept bailing our son out of financial problems and all I got was in debt myself we become enablers just like for drug addicts.
 

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WARNING: Y Chromosome behind the keyboard. Adjust your listening filters appropriately!

Too funny!


I agree with every thing you said. Only you said it in a way I couldn't have.
 

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Wow, what a tough situation, you have my sympathy. I've got young adults in my family, with young children themselves, so I know what you mean about worrying about the children when the parents don't have their act together. I've made MANY mistakes trying to help the young people in my family, it's SO HARD to do the right thing and yet so easy to give advice to others. KWIM? I'm just saying to take what I say with salt, because I haven't been good at following my own advice! LOL!

The first thing that struck me reading your post was that you went and picked her up and took her home. (your home, I assume from the rest of the post). I can see doing that if there was some physical danger to her or the kids, but it only sounds like she found out her husband was cheating and the marriage was breaking up because of it. It seems to me a lot of people go through that and don't seek emergency housing. So maybe she didn't need to come live with you right away, she could have made plans to move after finding a job and housing. Because you know, once someone is in your house it can be really hard to get them out again!

But that is done...so let's focus on the rest. Three months to me is a long time with no progression (no job, no plans to move out or get on with her life) so yes to me the time is more than right for a little talk. Even just to suggest to her you're interested in hearing what plans she has. I have to agree with the others that "enabling" is the word to describe what's going on. Moving ahead is going to be painful and difficult. Of course she wants to postpone the pain/difficulty as long as possible. But helping her to postpone it won't do her or the kids any good. You're compassionate and you don't want the kids to experience ANY pain or hardship, but they will and postponing it won't help them. At 2 and 4 they won't notice if they don't have great clothes. At 12 and 14 they may care very much about living in reduced circumstances. So isn't it better to face the hardship now, not later? And it's true their mother may NEVER get her act together but you have to give her the CHANCE at it.

I guess what I'm saying is have the talk. Ask her what her plans are, and also outline what YOUR plans are. If you've been giving her money, outline a plan to gradually reduce what you're giving her. Also, if this is putting a strain on your own family/budget there is no shame in telling her this. She needs to know that while you've helped for a while it can't go on indefinitately.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
What a day!
Thanks for all the advice. If you thought we were enabling from my first post you would freak if you knew all the handouts and general crap we've been swallowing lately. Yes its my husbands little sister, he can barely stand to be in the same room with her, his biggest pet peeve is laziness.
We sat down and had the talk........it didn't go well. I guess it did in a way because she has another appointment booked with social services. She will appeal both SS and unemployment this month. I called the housing authority and she'll move July 1 into low income housing. The opening is a miracle seeing there are only 4 units in our small town. We'll move her AGAIN and pay rent until SS kicks in. She's pissed we won't pay for internet......can you believe it? She tried telling us all about the internet plan/packages. She'll need to get rid of her dog, they don't take pets. That went over well.
I'm hoping she'll use the food bank service, its excellent with single mothers, plenty of food. I brought it up and whe went totally red-faced.
The whole job thing went right over her head. We talked about it and she ranted and raved about daycare and sitters and I told her I'm sure it would be subsidized. She is TALKING about a care aide course, upset that its 2 years long. Did I mention she is a liscenced hair dresser? I keep telling her she should advertise to do hair in-house for seniors. Her diet coke addiction I will never understand. We don't drink pop, she drinks at least 8 a day. Her mom will bring it out or she'll scrape together the money for it. Is it just me or should little kids be drinking it? Everyone knows when I serve its water, milk or crystal lite. For their pop fix they run to their mom.
The thing I kept trying to get across to her is that it isn't like we don't want to help we just think its time to let her ex be responsible for his family. We have done our part and we think she sould force her ex to look after his family. We really stressed that we have basically given him a break and we're over it. We don't like him, his lifestyle and anything else about him so why would we let him off the hook by paying for his responsibilities. If I wanted to have 5 kids I would have. So now she'll move out on her own and we'll sit back and watch the train wreck......oops, I shouldn't have said that.
Its so hard not to care about the kids but you know the more I think about it the more I realize she really is quite a manipulater. Her kids don't sleep well at night (coke?) and in the morning she brings them upstairs and then goes back to bed. At first I chalked it up to her being depressed but now I see it as lazy. When I make supper she sits at the table and says I guess I should get up and help......and doesn't. I could go on and on.
I wonder when she does move out and is on her own, will I worry and want to drop in? I need to get a life!
Is there ANY such thing as helping a little, or would anything at all just be a slippery slope to enabling again?
 

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Sue,

JMHO, do everything you want to help the kids, get them clothes, school supplies, small gifts for b-days, and x-mas.....just make sure it's stuff for them and not money so that their mom doesn't take it from them.

Also don't do so much that mom is off the hook.....

Again just my humble opinion.

Best Wishes,
leezza
 

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FarmerSue, I think you've done all the right things and am pleased to hear she is moving out. Funny though, I'm more happy for YOU than her! I really think subsidizing her to the point of her living in your house and then paying her rent until she gets on her feet is MORE than generous...in fact, I don't know many that would do it. I think there needs to be space between you because it's not fair to you to worry over her life. I have a personal saying in situations like this (because I mentioned before that I worry about the young people in my family) and it's this....

You have all of the worry and none of the control.

Like you said, you didn't ask to have 5 kids, so it's not fair for you to have the WORRY too when you have no control over what's done. I always say this to my sister (who worries a lot more than I do about family members). If she could just TAKE OVER then she could reduce or eliminate the problems, but since she can't do that she needs to learn to let go of the worry too. Your SIL may have the worry, but she has the CONTROL too and that makes all the difference.
 

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We don't drink pop, she drinks at least 8 a day.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but that amount of pop a day wreaks havoc on your metabolism. I saw a lady on Oprah who was addicted to Diet Coke and Dr. Oz had a terrible time getting her off of it. He said it was part of the depression and weight gain problem she was having.

And just imagine giving it to young children.

You're better than me. Pay her rent when she has a husband. Shaking my head. God love ya'.
And she had the NERVE to ask about internet service. WOMAN, YOU HAVE A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD!!!

All the best. Good luck. :catfly:
 

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You've been very kind to take care of her and her family for this long, but you did the right thing by making arrangements for her to move out. I hope she gets her act together for her children's sake!
 

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It sounds like she is going to continue making excuses about why she isn't doing something with her life, until people in her life make her stop.

While I only have one child, I work a full time job on the outside. Sure, people have really REALLY helped me along the way *thanks Mom!*, but it hasn't been easy.

When I told my mom about my situation, she let me move back home ... on conditions. I was also 20, but the conditions were easy. When I moved out, my mom didn't want me to, but she saw that I was about to handle everything on my own. There were checks and balances along the way. I am NOT on any public assistance, and with hard work, your sister-in-law doesn't have to be either.
 

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as someone who found their spouse cheating, i was in shock for three months, then coping and hanging on by my fingernails for about 6 months. at about a year i began to feel somewhat normal.

she needs a professional counselor and a JOB.
 

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It sounds as though the talk you had with her went as planned! She heard you and your dh, she ranted and raved like a child, you held your ground and she is going to be responsible for her family.

You may want to set a time limit on how long you are paying her rent. Until SS kicks in is too vague. If you say a generous 3 months means that she will need to make sure her ducks are in a row. If she is that manipulative then SS might not kick in for a LONG time that you hear about. She needs to work, it will help her to focus on her children and some positive things instead of all the negative she has been thru. She needs to start standing on her feet for her kids sake.

I think you and dh did a very good thing, tough love is still love.
 

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So do you have an update...did she move July 1?

At this point I wouldn't help her anymore financially, I would even stop giving to the kids. IF she shows some initiative, and is heading in the right direction then I would slowly start to help again as I see fit.

However, if she is still sitting home doing nothing and blaming everyone else for what she doesn't have...she still needs more time to hit rock bottom. Kids are resilient and as long as they aren't being mentally abused they'll be okay. You can still show them love and spend time with them but I would stop with the buying of things.
 
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