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POLL RESULTS: Family ties: (14 comments)

POLL: Family ties

Friday, December 31, 2010 - 12:00 AM

A reader writes... Q: I was 20 years old when I became a mother. I was unmarried with no job skills. With the help of my family I went to a trade school. I got a good job saved money and moved out of my parents home. I created a life for my daughter and I. I will always be grateful for the support my family gave me during those 2 years.

When niece #1 was in a bad situation I invited her to bring her family and live with me while she got back on her feet. It didn't work. It ended badly after 3 years when I realized that She had no intention of getting her own place. She was perfectly happy to have me take care of her.

Now I am watching my sister do the same thing with niece #2. These are not young women they are both close to 30. They have throughout the last 10 years made attempts to make it on their own but have consistently made bad choices and needed to be rescued.

I want to walk away from this situation as I see no help for it. Neither one of these women have any desire to help themselves. The family's attitude is "What about the children". I have at times tried to explain to them that we are not helping them to succeed but enabling them to fail. This always results in me being reminded that it was the family that helped me when I needed it and it is my responsibility to help when it is needed.

My own daughter is a young mother living on her own. It is not easy for her but she does it. Why should I expect less of my siblings children? Am I being judgmental? Should I just continue to help as always? I know if I push this situation I will be breaking family ties
POLL: What should she do?
 
3% (52) They're family. She has a responsibility to help them no matter what.
 
25% (391) Cut ties and tell her family to butt out. Enough's enough.
 
9% (149) Move. Far away.
 
62% (971) Enlist a third party -- a pastor, counselor, etc -- to intervene and confirm that she has, indeed, done enough to pay back her debt.
1563 people have voted in this poll. (This poll is not active.)
crumjd
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Posts: 3

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Mar 2010
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 01:32 AM (#57811)

In all of that explanation you didn't really say *what* you're expected to do. Niece 1 doesn't live with you anymore, right, and Niece 2 lives with your sister, correct?

In that case, are they asking for money? Tell them you can't afford to make loans and leave it at that. If they pressure you and claim you can, tell them that you haven't saved much for retirement and so any extra is going toward making up lost time. (You've got to be in your 40's, right? I can't imagine that story is far fetched and it may even be a good goal.) If they're asking for something other then money, but similarly difficult to provide, follow a similar strategy.

HOWEVER, if you're just offering your opinion that *your sister* shouldn't do so much: Quit offering your opinion. Your sister doesn't agree with you. Repeating yourself isn't going to change her mind.

Finally, if the aid they need is fairly minor, consider biting your tongue and providing it. If the fight to avoid giving your niece a ride or a little babysitting is going to cause a rift with your family it's not worth it no matter how right you are about her life plan.

"A crown, if it hurts us, is not worth wearing."
- P.J. Bailey


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DavidArgall
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Nov 2010
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 02:31 AM (#57812)

As has been suggested, if most of what you have been supplying of late has been advice, you pretty much should accept that your sis has the right to waste her money however she likes, which includes letting her kids loaf thru life.
Now if she expects you to kick in in some major way, finding some neutral expert to tell your kin there are limits to what you are going to fork over sounds like a good idea. Of course, you need to find somebody they respect, and it is amazing how much more people respect the opinion of somebody who agrees with them. And you may find even some of the experts you respect will not agree with you. Still, if the argument has gotten serious, this might settle it.


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Darkness
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Mar 2010
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 03:37 AM (#57813)

Hey, I guess you are being to rush... Wait for 10 or 20 years and all your nieces are going to be exactly where you are today... Caring and worrying about your daughter and your granddaughter. Genetics rules!


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jabrwok
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Dec 2010
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 05:36 AM (#57814)

So where are the fathers in all this? It sounds like multiple generations of single mothers. That's a recipe for disaster, as the questioner is learning. Some women can raise kids just fine on their own, but it's a LOT of work, and many can't handle it.


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DoubleStar
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Mar 2010
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 10:08 AM (#57816)

Wow. This question hits far too close to home for me. From the tone of your post, it seems your biggest source of anxiety and frustration isn't necessarily what you should do, but whether your evaluation of the situation is correct. So believe me when I say from personal experience, you're not wrong here.

There's a saying, "God helps those who help themselves". Or the corollary in this case, which is that nobody wise enough to know better wants to help anyone who *won't* help themselves. So yep, your family is enabling them to fail. Sadly, there are folks out there who simply refuse to grow up enough to be self-responsible unless it is forced on them, and good enough at deluding others (and often themselves) into believing otherwise, and therefore they are not to blame for their own continuing misfortune.

The thing to recognize here is that you aren't going to change your family's opinion, and they aren't going to change yours. In which case, how you handle things is up to you; all of the poll suggestions can be the right one, depending on the situation. If possible, the best situation would be for your family to understand that you must both agree to disagree, agree to not bring the situation up again, and leave it at that. But if that doesn't work (and it likely won't), you're going to have to either learn to live with the emotional abuse from your family on the subject, or take more drastic measures, either cutting ties or moving away.

FYI, in that situation close to home for me, moving far away worked best, though it was a real tough decision to make both financially and emotionally. I can only say, if things don't get better, do what's best for you.


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betaiotamu
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Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 10:27 AM (#57817)

It seems that this may be largely about establishing healthy boundaries. Your family may have stepped in to help you when you had challenges, but you established healthy boundaries to their aid by working to relieve them from ongoing burdens on your behalf. I expect if you had a house fire they'd show up and that is proper.
There is giving help - no matter what - and giving appropriate and reasonable help. You are not wrong to choose not to squander your hard-earned (and even assisted by your family) gains on the folly of your sister's parenting choices. The fact that she, and other family members can't see the difference between your ethical priorities and theirs speaks to the root of the conflict. Others have said you won't change your sister's mind with your opinion, and they are right. But you can influence by your choices.
Do what you decide to based on what is reasonable and possible for you. I agree that refusing to make a small and manageable contribution in order to make a point of principle isn't helpful. You seem to be the best example in the family. They need to remain connected to you, even if you have to work hard to keep the boundaries healthy. It's the only way you can hope to influence them and the next generation.


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Guairdean
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Mar 2008
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 10:28 AM (#57818)
In Response to betaiotamu (#57817):

Go to court, take the kids, and raise them the right way. Tell the parents they can have a say in their children's lives when they grow up. It's harsh, but it's the only way to break the cycle.


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NunyaBidness
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Apr 2008
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 12:49 PM (#57819)
In Response to Guairdean (#57818):

That would be expensive.

Without some proof of neglect or abuse (and nothing that would meet that legal definition seems to exist), no court is going to reassign guardianship.

Nor is this something you can do to an adult without a medical assessment of incompetence. The adults are the problem here.

Once anyone reaches 18, they can return to this lifestyle and there's nothing you can do about it.

So your recommendation is not useful.


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vorlonagent
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Oct 2009
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 01:14 PM (#57820)
In Response to NunyaBidness (#57819):

More than expensive, futile and divisive. A judge would want a huge compelling reason to take kids away from the current parents. When the parents can show they're trying to "help", Our Girl looks like a self-important busybody (I use that word because I can't think of a more perjorative one), the whole things fizzles and she becames a family outcast for no good reason.

If what Our Girl tells us is the complete picture, her relatives are indeed co-depending their kids. AA and its related organizations accent responsibility: what it means, and having the person in treatment take responsibility for their actions and allow others to take responsibility (and negative consequences) of theirs.

She can and should choose to not take part in co-depending irresponsible behaviour. It is NOT responsible to try to take responsibility for decisions not hers, such as bad parental support for *their* children. They have the right to be dead-wrong.

My advice to Our Girl is let it go, shut up and quietly choose not take part in behaviour that rewards irresponsibility.

This isn't easy and won't make Our Girl popular if she is asked to take part in that reindeer game. Our Girl wants to force other people do what her ego wants them to do and a correct read of the situation does not grant her license or moral superiority to intervene.

And yeah. Where ARE the guys who got all these girls/women pregnant? The girls in this family are being programmed to look for guys who will run out on them when they make babies because single motherhood is what they're used to. And the boys are being programmed to BE that kind of guy. Alchoholism passes down family lines this way too.

If Our Girl needs a project, she can teach her younger nieces (or her own granchild) how to look for a better mate if a girl or BE a better one if a boy.


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jasonred
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Feb 2008
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Friday, December 31, 2010 - 02:20 PM (#57821)

Yes, a huge digression here, but, HECK, the whole family needs some marraige or pregnancy counselling to reduce the number of single mothers in their bloodline.
Also, it is TOUGH being a single mother. Some people just can't do it. And, frankly, the job market 20 years ago and now are very very different.

When in a complicated situation, the best thing to do is to get a neutral third party opinion. Not only are the profesionals better at complete analysis of the situation, but you can always blame THEM if something goes wrong. It might sound petty, but it is TRUE... when something goes wrong, SOMEONE WILL ALWAYS BECOME THE BAD GUY. So, it might as well be someone unrelated to you.


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spzeidler
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Jan 2010
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Saturday, January 01, 2011 - 07:11 AM (#57826)

a question I have about this is if the reason both nieces aren't doing better is because they don't want to (flaw of character) or they can't (mental deficiency).

If it's the "don't want to" case: you have a daughter, she can use all the help she can get, and your first duty is to her. That is a good answer if parts of your family come with demands you don't think are reasonable.

If it's the "mental deficiency" case: little to be done but actually taking care of the thus afflicted; having them legally recognized as only partially competent helps keeping the fallout from more egregious mistakes in check.


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Guairdean
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Mar 2008
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Saturday, January 01, 2011 - 11:33 AM (#57827)
In Response to NunyaBidness (#57819):

A good lawyer can easily make a case against the parents. They are unfit, and a decent judge will recognize this. No medical assessment is necessary, just a visit from a social worker. The parents won't be able to afford decent council, and may be quite willing to turn their children over to someone else. Children put a crimp in the lifestyle of a selfish and irresponsible person. Never underestimate the willingness of a lazy person to get an inconvenience out of the way.


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HandEFood
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Apr 2009
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Saturday, January 01, 2011 - 07:40 PM (#57829)

I voted for option 1, take responsibility, acknowledging that responsibility does not have to mean providing support or shelter. In hindsight, option 2 is more like what I was thinking. I'm guessing the culture in the rest of your family appears to have different ideas of what it is to help.

Can you help the neice a job and accommodation? Once they move into their own accommodation, you can make it clear it is a one-way transition.

@DoubleStar, I agree with your view 100%.


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darkgolem
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Oct 2009
Re: Family ties (Score: 0)
posted Sunday, January 02, 2011 - 08:07 AM (#57832)

You cannot assume responsibility for your family, you have a responsibility to yourself and your life. I don't mean be selfish, but I do mean you have a responsibility to live your life too. So when another part of your family drags you down, do what you need to do, what you morally feel you should do, but don't ruin your own life past that point to fulfill what obligations others put onto you.

You have to be realistic about how you feel and the situation. But also, remember the price you pay for doing this. If you stop supporting someone who is dragging you down, that price might be being isolated from your family. It might be worth that price, but know what the costs of your behavior will be.


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Discussion: POLL: Family ties | Login/Create an Account | 14 comments
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