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Wedding Woes

Tough Love - Your sister is an adult

Dear Prudence,
Our parents died when my sister was 18. I am eight years older than her and took up a parental role. I am tired of it. My sister has failed to graduate college, find a permanent job, or bother to think of anyone but herself for the past five years. Over the last three months, my sister has called me crying that her roommates have stiffed her on rent and she is going to be evicted. I finally got fed up and tracked down the roommates and contacted them. My sister was lying to me—her roommates had been paying rent and sent me bank statements to prove it. She spent the money on concerts. I confronted my sister and told her she was a liar and a thief and I was glad our parents were dead rather than see what she has become. She called me a bitch. We haven’t spoken since. Now she is calling me again for money, crying she is going to be homeless. It is true this time because one of the roommates gave me a heads up they are leaving the apartment. I don’t feel guilty, and then I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am tired. My sister is 22. I don’t know what to do, but this has to stop. Can you help me?
—Sister, Not Mother

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Re: Tough Love - Your sister is an adult

  • Tough love.   Sister probably needs therapy.   If mom and dad died at 18 that can be incredibly rough to lose a parent at such an age.

    And big sis may benefit from it as well.   You can love someone without enabling them and little sis may need to hear the word no a few more times.  

  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I mean, LW shouldn’t have thrown their parents death in the sister’s face, and there was a better way to handle it, but they don’t need to feel guilty about it. Sister is an adult. If she prioritizes concerts over shelter than that sounds like her problem. I feel the worst for the roommates in this scenario who are presumably poor college kids on a tight budget. Getting stiffed for rent repeatedly sucks. 

  • I agree that LW didn't handle it very well but sometimes people just get fed up.  I struggle because 22 isn't really that old and her brain probably is still growing but at the same time, paying rent is a pretty fundamental function of adulting and she should know better.  The lying is maybe where I come down and end up in Team Don't Give Money or Feel Guilty

  • For a variety of reasons...including my own father passing when I was only a few years older (22 years)...I am the last person to have any sympathy for the younger sister.  She's choosing to f**k up her life and the LW should have zero guilt that she will no longer buy tickets for the train wrecks.  It's the wise thing to do and maybe the only way her sister will finally adult-up. And start taking responsibility for her own life and choices.

    And if the sister ends up endlessly couch surfing or on the street.  Whelp.  That's just too bad, so sad.  I know that sounds harsh and most people don't have the guts for it.  But they need to or the cycle will never end.

    If I were the sister, I would apologize for the harsh words I said in that one conversation.  But then have a CTJ talk with my sister.  Basically, that I would support her emotionally.  I would help her make plans to get her life back on track.  But the coin purse is locked down.

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