Question: Last night I found out that my Sister In Law may come to live with us and I am feeling resentful.  She is my age (34), she has 2 older brothers.  One is 6 years older than she (my husband), the other 7 years older.  She did not complete high school, and sold her home 2 weeks before completing her GED to move in with a guy she met online.  This was 2 months ago. She knew him 2 months and had seen him in person twice before moving in with him and creating joint bank accounts, taking over another of his family member’s mortgage, etc.  We decided not to help her out financially with the move, thinking it was not a good decision for her, and not wanting to continue to enable her to make bad decisions. (My husband has helped her out financially many many times and she has no shame asking for money.) We DID however, help her craft her resume to help her get a job in her new town.

I am a stay at home mom with two small children, 2 and 4.  I cannot fathom how we will make this work.  I feel like a scrooge saying no to her, but I can’t figure out how we will be able to afford to pay for her car & insurance, her phone bills, the added food bills, and for her dog and the related expenses.  Then I get resentful that I feel like I need to go back to work outside the home to support her bad decisions.  To help you see her irresponsibility, she called my husband to ask for money one day to pay her bills, and she was out shoe shopping!  I go to the Thrift Store to buy my kids clothes and toys, so I can’t understand that.  

We have one working bathroom at the moment (We are renovating our other one) and she is good with construction, so maybe she can help out that way, but the truth is, I just don’t know that I would want another person in my house all the time.  My husbands and my bedroom does not have a door, so there goes any privacy, and I have nothing, nothing in common with her other than our ages.  We will have to put in a fence in the back to accommodate her dog, and we are going on vacation in 3 weeks so she gets to come along for free.  

This guy she is moving away from is evidently really bad news, so she does need to get away, but how can I get myself to feel ok with this?  I really wish my brother in law (husband’s brother) were the one bearing this burden.

Answer: Laura,
I don’t believe that you have any long-term obligation to your SIL. Your focus and your husbands should be on your family. What I teach my children and encourage others to teach theirs is that CHOICES have CONSEQUENCES. Your SIL’s lifestyle is the consequences of her past choices. Bailing her out now doesn’t teach her anything. It only makes her think that she can continue on in her poor choices. You husband is the one you need to be concerned with. If he is willing to sabotage your living situation to help is bad decision making sister I would be scared. You need to have a sit down with him and get a time frame on how long she will be living there. At 34 she has more than enough energy to get a FULL-TIME job and find a studio apt to live in. If she is to live in your home as a guest she better pull more than her weight in the upkeep of the home. You could also charge her rent. Talk to your husband. She shouldn’t just be allowed to simply live there.

Make yourself heard!

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