Hello Dr. Simonsen,
I was hoping you could help with this family issue as I am sad that it is making my family grow apart.
Living in our home was my younger sister, my mum, and myself. Around 2 years ago my older sister got divorced and was left with no home with her 3 children (she cannot afford to rent a flat), so she came to live with us (in our 3 bedroom flat – the dining room was later converted into a 4th bedroom for my older sister). We all love each other very my but we have had the following problems non-stop and we are saying hurtful things to each other as a result of these problems:
From our side (my younger sister and I):
– Older sister’s kids are extremely loud all the time.
– House is usually messy because of kids.
– House feels crowded.
– Our mother is physically exhausted from taking care of everyone (food, etc.).
– We feel that our sister + kids are a burden (although we feel very bad for feeling this way).
All this is preventing us (me, younger sister + mum) from having peace in our own home.
From my older sister’s side:
– She feels stuck in this situation because she cannot afford a home of her own for her and her children (giving them the freedom to be normal kids, example: play and goof around noisily).
– All the tension/arguing is making her kids stressed.
– Her children deserve to have a happy normal childhood (like we did) filled with happy memories.
– She constantly feels unwelcome and depressed in this home.
We love our sister to death, but we don’t know what to do to improve our living situation.
The truth is that you probably all should feel stressed because this is a bad situation. Yet, it’s not meant to be permanent. All the adults are acting like it something that is going to last forever. There needs to be some type of plan put into place that everyone can agree to and live by. Your older sister should be in charge of cleaning up after the kids and probably the cooking as well if she is simply staying home. Mom should be in charge of something and you should be in charge of something. Instead of just living in the chaos a plan needs to be made. It would be helpful to sit with a 3rd party because having this conversation will be difficult. Your older sister should be getting some type of child support from her ex as well. If your sister is working, moving into a new place could be an option. With 2 incomes coming in then it would be much easier to afford a bigger place.