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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/How to get my parents to stop helping my sister?

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Question
I come from a family of 5. My parents have been married for 40 years and there is my two sisters and I (a man). My oldest sister is 37 (who I'll call Ann) and my middle sister is Liz.

Ann has been in a lot of money trouble since she was 16. She got with one guy and started filling out credit cards in other people's names, taking out payday loans and writing bad checks. She ended up having a child with this guy and then ended up going to jail.

Because she was in jail and had a child, my parents felt she needed to be with her child. She got into the program where you leave jail to come home and care for your child. At one point, my parents posted her $10,000 bail. She then got caught for bail jumping and they never saw that money again.

After she got out of jail, she straightened out her life. She found a new guy and got married. She had two more kids. Come to find out, the same money problems are happening again. It's been going on for about 2 years now.

To date, she has racked up around $20-30,000 in debt, written bad checks in her name and other people's names, taken out loans and now she is in way over her head. She continues to lie to my parents about what exactly is going on. Her marriage is headed for divorce as she has had probably multiple affairs on my brother-in-law.

My parents went over and saw her on Sunday. She told them that she needs $1,700 for a divorce lawyer as well as $300 for something else. Since my sister got in trouble before and my parents did not get the money back the have sworn up and down they will not give her money again. They have even said it recently. I asked them if they are going to give her the money and they said, "She hasn't asked us for it."

Ann has made comments before to her boyfriends and now her husband that my parents will always bail her out. That whatever trouble she gets in, my parents will help her. And, they are feeding right into that. I seriously think they are going to give her money again and she will never learn because they keep bailing her out. How do I tell them to stop helping her?

Answer
Hi, Mark, thanks for your question. You asked, "How do I tell them to stop helping her?"

Well, IDK how old you are, and IDK if you have kids, but would you listen to them if they told you how to live your life? You might be the exception, but the vast majority of people who say 'heck no'.

Besides, why would you want to control your parents? If they want to throw away their money, why would someone else get to decide they they should not throw it away? And how gets to decide that this is throwing away their money?

Now, don't get me wrong - if I were in your shoes, I probably would feel the same way. From what you've said, it doesn't seem to be helping in the long run. Lots of people choose short term gain (LT pain) over long term gain (ST pain). Your sister does it by throwing away her money on gawd knows what. Your parents do the same thing by giving their money to her. Perhaps your sister learned it from your parents?

I'm not assigning cause or blame here, merely pointing out that humans are very complex entities, and there's usually more behind what we can see. I would not ascribe 'problems' to only one person.

You might consider family therapy for everyone, but be prepared to learn things about yourself as well. Families are a system, and changing one part of the system affects all the other parts. IOW, changing yourself affects them too.

That's not really an answer, I know, but it's the best there is, sometimes. Sometimes we have to learn to take care of ourselves before we can begin affecting others.

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

any related to psychology, especially related to forensic psychology

Experience

15 years as a licensed psychologist, 15 years in private practice. My practice began primarily doing individual and group psychotherapy, is now devoted to assessments, but I occasionally do take on clients in therapy.

Organizations
American Psychological Association

Education/Credentials
B.A. psychology, B.A., music, Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978 MCS, computer science, University of Dayton, 1984 MA, psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1991 Psy.D., psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1993 post doctoral training in Neuropsychology, Fielding Institute, 1995-1997

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