Pushover pushes sisters to the brink
BY Ask Amy
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 4:23 AM
Dear Amy: I have a sister I love dearly, except for one thing: She is a total pushover when it comes to her kids. Her oldest son is 38 years old, lives at home, has no job, runs all night and sleeps all day.
He has three children by two women that he is not supporting in any way. Lately, he has brought a new girlfriend into the mix, her new baby (by another man) and her dog that pees all over the house. My sister has a daughter (32 years old) who also lives there with her daughter and her dog as well. And my sister has a dog.
None of these ingrates contributes to the household expenses. We have the same conversation over and over again. She refuses to throw anybody out, especially with the weather getting cold.
I say make them responsible for themselves. I have tried all the avenues I can think of to help. I just hate how they take advantage of her, but I hate even more how she lets them. Any advice? - Disappointed Sister
Dear Disappointed: Your sister has it within her power to live her life completely differently, but she is making choices every single day that put her at the center of this dysfunctional, chaotic household. You need to assume that despite what she may say to you, her family system is cranking along pretty much the way she has designed it to, and that this pattern goes way back to her kids' childhoods.
You don't actually say if your sister is unhappy with this state of affairs or if you are mainly unhappy for her. The only thing you need to do differently is to stop having the same conversation over and over. I give you permission to stop offering solutions that she has no intention of enacting.
You can be her concerned and loving sibling simply by responding: "I'm so sorry you're unhappy and frustrated. This sounds really tough." Do not offer one more suggestion until she says these words: "I can't do this. I want my life to be different. Please help?!" Then you can advise and assist.
Dear Amy: I sighed when I read the letter from "Powerless Partner," who has a divisive, controlling mother-in-law. Boy, did that sound familiar! My mother played all sorts of manipulative games around the holidays, and once I figured out that I didn't need to twist myself into a pretzel to please her, we all settled down. - Been There
Dear Been There: It's hard to be calm, firm and resolute - but it works!
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