Am I Wrong?

Mellie Wellie

A year go, my sister decided that she wanted to start over a new life in another state. She sent her 15 and 18 year old son and daughter to live with me for a year while she finalized things where she lived. I also have two children, one who was 22 that lives with me and the other 18 years old in college who lives at home. At the time they move in, I had just gotten separated and was living on my own for the first time; she was also going through a divorce 5 years of separation.

Initially, she started giving me 30 dollars biweekly for food but after letting her know that it couldn't cover costs for food she started giving me 75 biweekly. Although very tight, I managed to make it work in addition to what I put in biweekly as well.

Three months ago, she finalized everything and moved in with me. From her divorce she received a large payoff for the house they owned along with child support payments. As they live with me she still continues to contribute $75 biweekly for food.

After 3 months of looking, she finally found a job and just started working a few days ago.

What I would like to know is others' opinion on whether she should be pitching in financially to help out more. I feel that with her settlement and child support she should have been doing that at least 3 months ago. Especially when she sees me at times struggling to pay for house repairs that mount up to $300 each time a service guy comes out and she hears me complaining. (In the past 3 months, I've had to repair the dishwasher, toilet, washing machine and replace the garage door.) My two children help out minimally each month by paying for one utility bill each. She is aware of that. I feel that that alone justifies that she should offer to pay something more than $150 for food. A household of 6 people is a lot of maintain. I haven't directly spoken to her about chipping in more but have just hinted here and there at it.

My brother said I should wait until she gets a few paychecks before I ask for money to cover household expenses. I feel that that shouldn't matter since she receives monthly child support and has a large sum of money that's sitting in her bank account from her settlement that should be using to help cover expenses. I don't feel like I should be responsible for an adult and her two children without adequate financial support.

Comments (9)
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So, your sister and her two children live with you and she pays you $150 a month?

I just want to make sure I've got this right before I allow my head to explode ;-o

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S Rodriguez

She should pay half the rent/mortgage and half the grocery bills. Don't let her treat you like a doormat.

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Gibson Zone 9 (Central Valley, CA)

This is ridiculous. She is taking advantage of you - financially as well as your time and energy. You raised HER kids for a year? You should be reimbursed for the same amount of child support she received. If conflict is difficult for you (same as me), what would happen if you buy less groceries? She can help by getting groceries herself - that's been taking MORE of your time.

It seems that every family has givers and takers. I would like to get her on the phone myself and tell her off. However, that would not be productive.

My advice: make a list of your concerns (for yourself.) Hold a meeting with your sister (no kids). Tell her you WILL NOT and CANNOT continue this arrangement. Keep things positive by using this sentence structure: When _______, I feel ____. It's hard to communicate like that but it will get easier with time. This sentence structure takes the "you do this, you do that" out of the equation. It prevents the person from becoming defensive after feeling blamed. Examples:

"When I buy groceries for a family of six on a very tight budget, I feel worried about the future and how I'm going to continue this."

"When I have no money in savings for the future and no emergency funds, I feel helpless and resentful."

"When I've spent a lot of extra energy and time raising kids for the past year, I feel exhausted and need help/understanding that the past year has put a toll on me. I know it's not good for my health and I need a break."

"When so many maintenance expenses come up and money is tight, I feel worried and resentful that I'm not getting help. Maintenance issues always come up when owning/renting a home. We all use this home."

If you can outline your feelings, it will help you stay on task while communicating. Hopefully, it will also help you identify the problems and how they are affecting you. Don't budge. Your asking total strangers for advice, in your heart you already know something is wrong. If I shared the exact same situation with you and it were me, what advice would you give? Take care of yourself or you won't have anything less - your relationships will suffer anyways. It's better to deal constructively now then after things get out of hand.

Sorry I'm so wordy.

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Mellie Wellie

Thanks for your responses. I am trying to address the issue without causing harm to the relationship. The suggestions for discussing the issue is great. When I discussed this issue with family (my mom and brother) they feel I should be more understanding of her situation. Others outside of the family feel it is a situation that should be addressed immediately with her taking responsibility as should. I'm trying to understand why my family is so adamant about giving her so much time.This, as well as avoiding confrontation, are the reasons I've tiptoed around the issue for so long. But I'm tired, which is why I've decided to see what others without personal connections to either of us think about this issue.

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You've been a saint, truly. My advice would be to not solicit opinions from, nor listen to what you family has to say. They are not the ones raising, caring for and assuming the financial burden of 2 additional charges! Strike that, 3!

What do YOU think? If you think you're being taken advantage of, and you are, then let your sister know things will be changing, and that's it's NOT a discussion or negotiation. It's what needs to happen for things to continue on as they are.

No one, but no one is doing your sister any favors be letting her get away with being so selfish.

I don't envy your situation, but you seem like an amazing person for giving so much.

She's VERY lucky to have you. They all are ;-)

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Um, why the He// don't you mother and brother say your sister should be more understanding of _your_ situation? She had been separated longer than you when she first sent her children to you (and why did she need to do that anyway, was getting her divorce a 24/7 job?). You are being taken royal advantage of, and need to put your foot down ASAP or it will get harder and harder.

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Pretty good situation for your sister. Not only is her husband giving her child support, you are paying her child support and maintenance too. And your own children are also paying bills.

It's time she needs to kick in 50% of living expenses. I would not expect her to pay for repairs bills for things you own. However, I would expect her to pay half of all the utilities, rent or mortgage/taxes/insurance and grocery bill. Your children are your financial responsibility and should come first. College doesn't come free. Your sister needs to stop taking advantage of your generosity.

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So, why isn't your brother helping? I agree with everyone else. You are being taken advantage of. Not only are you wearing yourself out, you are going to put yourself in a big financial bind.

Suggest to your sister it's time for her and her children to move out, now that she has a job. Otherwise, she needs to pay half of everything.

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Talking with your sister doesn't have to be confrontational, just sit down over a cup of coffee and talk plainly. Sis, I'm struggling financially with all the extra people here. I think it is time to start contributing more towards the running of our home. Plain and simple, no drama.

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