Thursday, September 30, 2010

Am I parenting my sister?

Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness
10                         10                            10              10
Comment: Thank you

Questioner: Andrea Subject: Am I parenting my sister?

Question: Hi, I am not a parent but I am married. My sister who has just turned 18 is living with us (free of rent, and occasionally eating our food) she has nowhere else to live and cannot support herself and get her own place for at least 6 more months so she moved in a month ago. We are happy to help her in her time of need.

Here are my concerns,
my husband and I are very neat and clean people we both feel stressed out if there are messes in the house, we like order. My sister on the other hand would feel at home in a dumpster, she is a slob, we have made it clear that she keep the house in order, her dishes washed, bathroom cleaned up when she leaves it etc. but the one thing that she cannot seem to handle is her room, when she came we went out and bought her a bed, sheets, decorations etc. to "fix it nice" for her.

There are piles and piles of dirty laundry on her floor (she cant seem to grasp washing all of it and hanging it up, she picks out what she wants to wear and throws it in with ours) the bed is a mess, trash on the floor.. I have told her that she needs to keep "her part of the deal" up and the only thing we ask is that she takes care of "her own" things...that worked maybe for a day and it was back to a mess.

Then I wrote her a kind letter explaining that we love having her here but we need to to keep her things orderly, and we went over a few things like laundry and making her bed. That worked for about 3 days and her excuses for not cleaning up are that she was running late to work. She stays out late sleeps all day watches TV for a few hours and rushes off to work everyday. We borrow each other's clothes but I always wash hers and put them back in her closet, I find my clothes dirty in a ball on her floor.

She tells me I'm "riding her" when I ask her not to do certain things like keep my shoes in her car or let the dog out of the cadge when she gets home etc...I do not want to be her parent, I do not want to kick her out what should I do?

Please help

Answer: Dear Andrea, You did not give to much detail about why your sister cannot pay her own way however, when it comes to her neatness insist she clean up after herself in the general areas of the house (areas you all share) then shut her bedroom door. Insisting she keep her room up to your standards is more about meddling and control issues.

She shouldn't of course do any damage to your furniture however she needs privacy regardless of whether she is paying rent or not as this is just common respect. How she treats her clothes is her decision as long as they are not in the common bathroom or in the far as how she treats your clothes, STOP letting her borrow them. You teach her how to treat you. Either don't loan your clothes out or expect she will do what she has done before.

On another note some of your sisters behavior sounds like depression. Has anyone mentioned to her she may want to seek out some counseling? She is sleeping alot, not paying particular care of her self etc...

Try and remember you are sisters however you are not in the same developmental stages and are at different places in your life. She is not you. She is very fortunate to have a sister who cares enough to take her in and all sisters should be so lucky!


M Kay Keller

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