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How Far Would You Go For Family?

I think it’s safe to say that most of us value family. My family is one of the most important parts of my life – they’re the reason I live in Hickville USA, they provided free babysitting so I could finish college and grad school, and they are super supportive of my career as a freelancer. All that said, where do you draw the line when someone in your family is taking advantage of you?

The Story

Two weeks ago, a member of my family (I’ll call her Roberta) showed up at my door. Could she stay with me for the night? Of course! I said. Anything for family!

Roberta has a lot going on in her life. Basically, she was kicked out of her house for reasons that are entirely her fault. She made crappy choices, and her husband had already forgiven her for similar crappy choices in the past. When he found out that the same issues were going on again, he told her to get out. Let me be clear: I don’t blame him for what he did.

A few other details: Roberta is in her 40s and has two teenage kids. This isn’t a case of youthful stupidity. Roberta has also never had a job in her life; her husband makes more than enough money to take care of the family. She also has a history of abuse that has resulted in poor decision-making, impulse control problems, and numerous other issues, but none of that excuses her irresponsible behavior.

Anyway, despite the fact that Roberta created the situation she’s in, she’s still a close family member and she was literally planning to sleep in her car. She had NOWHERE to go. There is no way I would have told her she couldn’t stay here.

The problem? It’s been two weeks, she’s still at my house, and she hasn’t even pretended to look for a job.

That Awkward Moment When You Want to Kick a Relative

Roberta spent the first few days of her “visit” crying, freaking out, and sleeping. She seemed to realize that she has royally screwed up this time. There is no going back – her husband is done with the drama and her kids won’t even speak to her. So I was pretty understanding of her need to wallow in misery for a few days – I probably would have done the same.

Then (like an idiot) I got her a phone. Her husband cut hers off the night he threw her out, and I didn’t like the idea of her being stuck with no way to communicate. I had an extra line that wasn’t being used, so I bought her a cheap (non-smart) phone. In 14 days, Roberta has sent and received over 8,000 text messages. I have unlimited messaging, but remember that she is in her 40s. It’s not like she’s a teenager.

Other than texting and sleeping, Roberta has read a number of my books, played hundreds of rounds of Facebook games, and watched plenty of reality TV. That’s about it.

We’ve talked about the fact that I cannot afford to support her and that she needs to get a job, but remember that Roberta has never worked. She has done everything in her power, whether or not she realizes it, to avoid applying for jobs.

“I don’t have an address.” (Use mine.)

“I need help making a resume.” (I’ll help you.)

“I don’t have any work history.” (Say you’ve worked for me for the past year.)

“I went to one place but they want me to apply online.” (Your computer is capable of visiting sites other than Facebook.)

My Dilemma

Even if Roberta got a job next week, it would take her months to save up enough money to pay deposits and get a place to live. In the meantime, she’s eating my food, using up my rollover minutes, and sleeping on my couch. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Telling her to leave isn’t an option. She’s family and she’s in need, regardless of the reason why she’s in need. And I will not let her leave here to sleep in her car or end up who knows where. I couldn’t live with myself.

I can’t force her to find a job. And I definitely can’t force anyone to hire her. She has no skills, no experience, and no education. So even if she gets motivated, I have a feeling this is going to be a process. Remember that we live in a tiny rural town – it’s not like there are jobs all over the place.

The rest of my family members are either unable to take her in (because they’re in dire straits themselves) or unwilling because of the circumstances that led to her sudden homelessness. And while I can’t bring myself to take that attitude, I certainly understand why others in the family feel the way they do.

What Would You Do?

I think it’s easy for people to say, “Oh, I’d give her a deadline to find a job or else,” or “I’d tell her to grow up and deal with it.” Honestly, if I was hearing this story from someone else instead of living it, I might say the same thing. But it’s different when it’s my life and my family member.

I feel completely stuck right now – she’s acting like an idiot, but she also needs a place to go and a way to pay for it. And I can’t comprehend the notion of taking advantage of a (younger) relative to keep from working, so I have no idea what’s going through her head. She seems to be waiting for a man to come along and rescue her from her problems (as evidenced by all the text messaging) and that has never really been my style. I just don’t know what the answers are.

Think of the flakiest, most manipulative member of your family. Could you have turned him/her away if s/he showed up at your door? Would you be able to put your foot down knowing s/he didn’t have anywhere to go? How would you handle such a dramatic situation?


About Andrea Whitmer

Andrea is a freelance web developer and mom trying to maintain a sense of humor in an otherwise chaotic world. She blogs in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistakes she made in the past. Join in the discussion here on So Over This, or connect on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or Google Plus. You can also subscribe to new posts via RSS so you never miss out!


  1. Wow – what a tough situation. I honestly don't know what I'd do. Part of me thinks that I'd be stern and tough love, trying to set deadlines or something with the threat of kicking her out. But, I'm not sure I'd ever be able to follow through on something like that. That really, really sucks.

    Can you talk to her husband about finding her an alternative place to stay? A studio apt or something. I mean, if they end up divorced, he would probably have to pay her alimony or something, right? (I have no idea)

    • Unfortunately it's not that simple. What I didn't mention in the post (because it was already way too long) is that he's technically her ex-husband. They got divorced in 2009, she took her alimony in a lump sum that she blew through in 4-5 months, and they got back together in early 2011. So this time she's out with nothing but the stuff that would fit in her vehicle and he isn't willing to help her. Again, I don't blame him, especially since he took her back after she left him the first time. :/

      • B. Hawkins says:

        Public Assistance. There is no reason for her to continue to mooch off of you. They should be able to put her up in a motel until they can find her an apartment. They will assist her with a job search and provide her with food stamps. I would advise that before she leaves you, you take the phone back, otherwise you could be paying for that forever. I don't know how PA works where you are but in NY, it's not that difficult a process.

  2. She hasn't grown up because she's probably never been pressed to do so. As long as you continue to accommodate her she won't make any progress in that area. Some people have to be forced into changing their life by hitting bottom.

    She's not at the the bottom yet because she has someone providing everything she needs with no expectation of that changing. I don't like being harsh with people, but at the same time you can't let her drag you into her pit . Kick her to the curb so she can hit bottom. Send her off with a few hundred dollars if you can and tell her if she shows up starving you'll be glad to feed her and love her, but you've done all you can do.

    There's a great book entitled "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud that you could give her and that you can also read if you haven't before.

    You can't enable this woman any more, she will ruin you. I get the sense that you probably know that already.

    You can't feel guilty about letting her experience the full ramifications of her own poor decision making. Tough as it is, this is the only way she can start getting better.

  3. Andrea, I feel your pain. Although I have never had anybody ever show up at my door, I have a family that sometimes feels likes it okay to ask for handouts and that crap is not cool. I guarantee that if you let her, she will take everything you give and show you nothing in return-not until she realizes that the gravy train is no longer in service. It may seem cruel but think about yourself and your son. Like you said, you cannot afford to keep her and save for the future. Surely she can understand that? I like your suggestion of giving her some money but then you have to set a realistic deadline to move out and stick to it! Otherwise you will not be helping her and just screwing yourself in the end. Plus, she is in her 40's and its time to grow up. Sorry to be so candid but I hate to see other people get taken advantage of. It benefits NO ONE.

  4. As you know, I'm stuck in a similar situation with my mom. She expects to be able to stay at my house whenever she can (she's bouncing around from house to house right now). I still don't know what to do!

  5. seedebtrun says:

    I don't see why it is up to you to carry the weight for your whole family, Andrea. I understand opening your doors to someone in need, but carrying around anchors with you everywhere that you go will eventually cause you to sink.

    I would tell her that she can only spend the night if she has a plan for where she is going next. Give her a firm deadline of 1 or 2 months to find a job, start earning money, and find somewhere else to stay. If you leave it open ended, then it will go on forever…


  6. What Jason said. You aren't helping her – you're continuing to enable her. You say you "couldn't live with yourself" if she wound up sleeping in her car, but she is not you … you can't take on her actions and her issues and make them your responsibility. As you said, she's 40, she's been married and has kids. She's not a 17 year old child or even a 22 year old young woman who doesn't know what to do.

    I would suggest you see if you can find a women's shelter or halfway house that can help her get some basic job training. Then don't give her an option – she can go to the shelter or she can live on the street.

    You cannot assume the burden for this woman's life. You say you couldn't live with yourself if she wound up on the street, but you are not responsible for her refusal to handle her life. Her choices are not your responsibility.

    • It's really tough when it's someone you know and love, but Kara is right. Unfortunately my family has always done a lot of enabling behavior so I try to not repeat those same behaviors, but I know I do at times. It's frustrating when you are working so hard to be responsible and you see someone who is doing almost nothing responsibly and yet they place the burden of responsibility on you. Guilt is a huge part of my negative psyche, and I am trying to feel less guilty when I am doing the best I can. Not sure if that helps as advice but I am sure you will figure this out 🙂

  7. That sort of sums up the relationship between me, my parents and my siblings… it is a very tough choice. For one, they need to grow up, but I can't be the villian and just cut them off as I am often asked to (I always feel like one of the askholes you mentioned a while ago). I am an enabler by allowing them to continue on this easy way, but the other alternative is a bit… steep and severe. It is a scary thought that she could remain this way long-term. Though if she is just texting and such, I'd definitely curtail that habit quick. Any way you can limit the number of texts and so on? Sort of like parental control. As for what to do on the long term… as sad as it is, some people do not seem as bothered as the rest of us to take advantage of others.

  8. For starters, I think if she is living with you for free, then she could help you with everything you have to do around the house. For instance, she could take over all the grocery shopping, cooking, dishes, laundry, mowing the lawn, etc. Imagine how much less difficult it would be for you to have her around if you no longer had to worry about doing all those things yourself! It would free up more of your time to work on your freelance projects, which would help financially. You could still work on helping her find a real job, but as you pointed out, it may take a while. Although I think she may be more motivated to go out and support herself if she understands that no matter what, she is going to have to start working, whether it is at a job or just pulling her own weight around the house. And if she refuses to help, I don't think you would have to kick her out right away- just take away her phone, tv, and internet. Tell her she's welcome to live there, but you're not going to provide her with anything more than the basic necessities (a roof over her head and food to eat).

  9. My heart literally wrenched when I read this-what a difficult situation! I don't have many close extended family members, but I can certainly understand being unable to say no. I maybe wouldn't have gotten her the phone..seems like it's something that she is really attached to and maybe would've been a motivator to get her to work or something.

    Perhaps she is waiting for her husband to come back. Or maybe she will read this blog post and get the hint. lol. At least tell her she needs to give you money for groceries. Or tell her you are happy to help her get back on her feet but after a month she needs to contribute to the household. That seems like a fair switch-off and may be the impetus she needs to either move on or get a job. We did that with someone in NYC and lo and behold they moved out before the "due date".

  10. This is a really, really shitty situation. I'll be honest in saying that I'm definitely coming at this from a tough love stance. My family has it's fair share, if not an overabundance, of relatives who were abused and in return abuse and manipulate the generosity of others. I watched my parents be taken advantage of repeatedly by relatives when I was growing up. Fortunately, they've finally had enough, and they've gotten tough with the offending relatives. You know what happened? They pitched a fit, dramatically moved on and found someone else to sponge off of. Wash, rinse, repeat. You mention that you can't force her to get a job. Personally, I would. I'd tell her she had x number of days to find a job, or else you'll drop her off at the nearest women's shelter (whether that's in town or elsewhere). Then I'd follow through with it. She's acting like someone 1/3 her age, and until she's held accountable she'll use every things she's got to avoid reality. I'm really sorry Andrea.

  11. The only option is to move far, far way, like to Colorado. We have had family members who have done similar things to my mom and sister. Because they both have decent houses and a little money, they feel like it's no problem for them to bankroll someone for a while. You really can't kick her out. KY people just don't do that, and I bet there isn't any sort or halfway house or woman's shelter there as well. Sadly, she'll probably take up with another man and leave then. My mom had a cousin in a similar situation. She finally told her if she was going to be getting taken care of, she had to help care for my elderly grandmother who had Alzheimer's. That lasted about two weeks and the cousin found a man and left. She still had plenty of time to take my mom's clothes and get into a fight over a couch at the funeral home! Good luck!

  12. By the sounds of it, you are going to have to wait for Roberta to really screw up with you (which she will) at which point you will tell her to leave and you will probably cut off communication too. By the sounds of it, she has never hit a bottom and to be acting like a teenager at her age tells me that she has mental/emotional issues too. Other people who say that she will find someone else to mooch from are correct …. she will. And then she will become THEIR problem because people like her often never learn.

    Should it happen that Roberta is back on the streets again after burning innumerable other bridges and comes to you for help, you can at that time lay down the law and get tough. Until then, wait for her to screw up and leave because, by the sounds of it, that is all you can do.

  13. dang, Andrea — I think you are stuck. Your options are limited, it seems, and I think maybe you should just make your house less awesome? So she's uncomfortable? I don't know — you can't teach her drive, and you can't let her sleep in your car. You can threaten, though, right? Oof but you'll be out of town soon so she'll just have run of the place. Hide your valuables? I don't know — but I agree with you, for now, you're stuck with her.

  14. debgemologist says:

    I'm not entirely in agreement with the "tough love" stance. First of all, it is incredibly hard to do and only gets worse the more you care about the person. Also, hasn't that kind of happened already? Her ex-husband kicked her out! And now she is pulling the same crap with Andrea. I'm just reading your article and the comments here, but I have a feeling that tough love is not going to "fix" Roberta.

    My idea is to implement more boundaries, to limit your financial exposure in all this. That's critical. But there is another aim here. As family that cares about this person, I can definitely see your obligation in making sure she is not sleeping in her car. You feel an obligation for her to be safe. But safe does not mean comfortable.

    I am wondering if in the process in setting boundaries you can also make staying with you safe, but not comfortable for her. You're right in that you cannot force her to find a job and you cannot force anyone to hire her. But if she is not in perpetual survival mode, and life with you is safe but not comfortable, it is possible that life will suck bad enough for her to where she will actually get off her duff and do something about it.

    For example, my friend had a similar situation with his SIL. She stayed over because of a crisis, and then just seemed to camp out there. My friend's solution was to rearrange the children's sleeping arrangements so that they no longer had a guest room in their house. There was nothing for it but for SIL but to sleep on the couch. No bed, no room, no privacy. The funny thing was that it motivated her pretty fast and on her own she found a job and then her own place to live.

    I don't know what will motivate Roberta in this case, but I thought I would at least suggest it. The main downside I can see with this approach is that it will take a lot of time. As someone who has never had a job and has no education, this is going to be a long road for her. I *think* that the time aspect doesn't bother you too much, though, as long as she isn't cleaning you out financially and there is SOME kind of progress happening.

    That's the best I can come up with. At the end of the day, you are a wonderful person and you want to help, but your needs and (more importantly) the needs of your son trump all in this.

  15. plantingourpennies says:

    My in-laws went through something similar with their youngest son. At one point they had to kick him out and change the locks because he needed to learn that choices have consequences. It really messed with their heads and my mother-in-law ended up calling all the homeless shelters in the area to help get her son a bed for the nights when the temperature was below freezing.
    They ended up filing charges against him – though refrained from bringing felony charges against him for fear of messing up his future chances even more…
    A few years later the tough love seems to have worked – way better than enabling him for so many years did.
    Don't know what her exact story is – but good luck figuring it out. We believe tough live is hard, but sometimes needed.

  16. If she’s sent 8,000 text messages, she’s got someone else to sponge off of.

  17. I totally would have said no. I got kicked out on my 18 birthday by my mom and never had a real place to go. I don't even get to have a conversation with my dad any more, because he decided to drop all relatives. So if any of my relatives showed up at my door I would say HELL NO! but that's just me and my personal issues.

    Getting away from my personal ideas, I would suggest giving her a job around the house. I know you really can't afford her, but you either have to find a way or kick her out, you can't MAKE her find a job. I would suggest giving her chores and making her earn her phone, I mean if she acts like a teenager, why not start there. Then add to the chores like look for 10 jobs each day/1 interview a week. Have a cut off time that if she doesn't do anything different or doesn't follow your rules (it is your house and your money) then she gets kicked out. Make sure both of you know the date and the consequences and hope that something happens. If not, be tough.

  18. You are confusing helping with enabling. Allowing her to sponge off you helps YOU not her, as it assuages your guilt, but is no real help for her, but a free meal. If you REALLY want to help, let her sleep in the car, offer only constructive help, like working on her resume, etc. Sounds like she's been enabled all her life and you are continuing the tradition.

    • This is the truth. If you love her, don't feel sorry for her._Help her grow up. __Think of it as in areas with your son. Haven't there been times_you had to be tough? That being tough brought out the desired result?__Think of yourself. Don't you have to get tough with yourself when you_need to change for the better in an area of your life?__She doesn't need a baby sitter. There are worse things than sleeping in her car.__I would let her sleep in her car. I would give her food on an as needed basis. I_would let her take a shower. I would let her do chores to earn a few bucks for needs._I wouldn't be a great listener for her pity party. I would listen if she was talking positive change_

  19. My approach is unconvential but might just make her wake up. Show her this post and male her read it out loud to you. Maybe it will set in then…

  20. My two cents based on my similar experience and knowing what rural really means:

    1. Mandatory therapy sessions – she misses one, she gets a warning, two she's out the door (if it's drug related she gets on wait list for rehab)

    2. She goes to the nearest unemployment office, which are actually employment offices where she registers for training and job search. She needs to make a friend and figure out a carpool situation.

    3. She goes to DCBS office or nearest public housing and applies for housing assistance
    (I know Section 8 has a three year wait list but in these small towns it's often up to the manager. I got an apartment the very same day I walked in the door just by telling the mgr my story )

    If she's non-compliant with the above, tell her you love her, giver her the address of a women's shelter and buy her a one way bus ticket.

  21. To be honest, almost all of my family is this way!!!!! I went to work the day I turned 16 (I am now 36) and at times have worked 2 jobs, once for as long as 7 years!!! My mom,brother and sister have all lived with me, I've paid some of their bills, gave them food and drove them wherever they need to go! About 5 years ago, the buck stopped. I absolutely refused to help someone that wouldn't help themselves. If I could work 2 jobs so could they! After I told them i would no longer be a hotel,food bank, taxi service or anything else, they all quit talking to me! They felt since I had more that it was my job to help them while they laid on their asses! Truth be told, I know you want to help your family, but your not helping her by doing everything for her. Tell her that you love her but she is 40 and it is time to get her life in order and start taking care of herself. If she truly loves you and values family as much as you do then she will have no reason to be upset. I only wish my family loved me for me and not for what I can do for them 🙁

  22. What would you do if a therapy client came to you with this situation? You have to set clear boundaries and expectations with Roberta, otherwise she will continue to take advantage of you. Tell her you will keep her phone on your plan for one year (I'm assuming that's how long you have to keep it without incurring a huge penalty for dropping the line), but then she will have to move it to her own plan. And let her know that she is financially responsible for any and all overage charges she incurs if her usage puts you over your minutes. Even if you have to put her on a payment plan. You can always forgive the debt if she gets a job and makes X number of payments on time. Or whatever you decide.

    Since she has been fortunate to never "have" to work, refer her to your local Community Action Agency's employment & training program. Most likely, the CAA will have a program funded by the Workforce Investment Act to help her attain skills so she can become gainfully employed and eventually move out of your house.

    While you cannot force her to be responsible for her actions, you are responsible for yours. I get that she is family and you don't want to see her homeless and starving. But you also don't want to become so resentful of her presence that your relationship with her suffers. Or your personal finances or your business. You have worked too hard to get where you are to jeopardize the progress you have made. If she is unwilling to make changes in her life, you may have to send her out into the world without a job or place to live in order to protect what you have created for you and Jayden.

    Good luck!

  23. What would you do if a therapy client came to you with this situation? You have to set clear boundaries and expectations with Roberta, otherwise she will continue to take advantage of you. Tell her you will keep her phone on your plan for one year (I'm assuming that's how long you have to keep it without incurring a huge penalty for dropping the line), but then she will have to move it to her own plan. And let her know that she is financially responsible for any and all overage charges she incurs if her usage puts you over your minutes. Even if you have to put her on a payment plan. You can always forgive the debt if she gets a job and makes X number of payments on time. Or whatever you decide.

  24. First off, I’m sorry your in this situation. I would recommend reading the book “boundaries”. I think she knew who to come to. I think she knew that you couldn’t or wouldn’t say no to her. I think if it keeps on like this you will end up resenting her, and possibly be put in a situation where you can’t support your immediate family. That to me would be worse.

    Let me explain, I’m a christian, and I believe that anybody who doesn’t take care of their family is worse than a non-believer (the bible states this) but there will be a point where she starts endangering your ability to provide for your son and that is not acceptable. I’m not saying that you are neglecting him. I think you have so far done the right thing.

    If I was in your position, I would give her a time frame. Whether it be 60 or 90 days. She needs a job and needs to move out. Otherwise she will be there forever. And you will no longer have a good relationship with this woman. If you don’t give her the time line, you will in essences be enabling her not to work, and not to grow up.

    I think your a great mom and I hate to see this happen to you. I will keep your family in my prayers.

  25. i would have to agree with the last post…she neds a job any job flippinig burgers…sweeping floors….i would also cut the phone off today…nuff said…then i would have only groul around to eat…it shold not be easy she should want to get out…or she will never.

  26. Looks like you've already gotten some excellent answers, and most of the advice I would give you, so I won't repeat what's already been said. I just wanted to add another voice for the Boundaries book… You might already be familiar with it, considering your line of work, but it's an excellent resource. There are a series of the Boundaries books, and Boundaries With Kids saved my sanity when my (very strong willed) kids were younger!

    I feel for you in this situation, Andrea. It's not a fun place to be. I've "been there and done that" multiple times with my sister's girls. I wish I could tell you there's a solution, but honestly everyone's right. Until this woman realizes the gravy train has gone off the tracks, she's not going to grow up.

    As someone else said- she's acting like a teenager… so treat her like one. Cut off her texting privileges if she's eating up your minutes. Give her chores. Ask her if she's applied for a job yet. Ask her if she's researching areas where job rates are higher. Ask her if she's considered college- if there's not a community college in your small town, or a trade school of some kind, what about an online learning center? Most states offer financial aid to singles, especially those over 40 with little or no income. I'm doing online classes now, just finished my Associate's and am working toward my Bachelor's degree- and bonus- NYS offers good enough financial aid that, with a scholarship I've been granted, I get sizable reimbursements twice a year, which help cover my living expenses while I work to build my business and raise my kids as a single mom.

    I've also been in "Roberta's" shoes. My hubs walked out, leaving me with a budding part-time freelancing gig, no real work history, no education to speak of. I was in the process of completing my Associate's when he left. I know how scary the future can look when you have no prospects- that's one reason i started getting my degree in the first place. She needs to know that she can do this- she can pull herself up and make a better life for herself and her kids. She's hiding right now. She's scared, and looking to you for protection from the big bad cold world. If you're going to take on that role in her life, you need to decide how far you're willing to go and how you're going to motivate her. Some tough love is indeed in order- the love being that you're not kicking her out entirely, and the tough being that you set firm boundaries and push her (hard, if need be) in the right direction.

    Good luck hon.

  27. Oh, Andrea, I'm so sorry you're going through this. Roberta's in her 40's and has always been this way? Seems to me that she may have sociopathic tendencies. As a therapist, I'm sure you know a lot more about this subject than I do, so you know that people with personality disorders don't change. Kick her out ASAP. People like her are really good at finding someone to sponge off, so she'll be alright. Or as alright as someone like her can be.

  28. This is a tough position for you to be in, but if she isn't doing anything to thank you for letting her stay rent free besides text and take advantage of you, well, I think an ultimatum may be in order. Have you thought in your mind how long you could let this go on, because as it is, there is the potential that it will go on for a long time.

  29. I was similar to Roberta in that I had to "sponge" off of friends and family when I left my abusive ex. These are the steps that worked for me.

    1) Therapy. Mandatory. No choice – if she doesn't go she doesn't stay.
    2) Deadline: I had several months to find a job (which I did not succeed at. it was 2008 and NO PLACE was hiring, not even McDonald's or Home Depot). My friend DID kick me out. I slept in my car for one night before I figured something else out. I do not resent her in the slightest for this – in fact, I respect her for it. She gave me a date well in advance so it was not a surprise. In your case I would suggest Thanksgiving weekend, or maybe even January 1, 2013.

    3) Basic Necessities. A phone that made phone calls. That's it. No texting. Set limits for her = using up your rollover minutes is INEXCUSABLE! You know that picutre that's going around? The one "If you want to know today's wi-fi password you have to do xyz" – do something similar. If she's going to act like a teenager treat her like a teenager. If you need to, take away her cell phone at night. It's not hers … it's yours. You know what else I didn't get? Junk food or sodas. That nearly killed me but I'm still alive so no harm, no foul.

    Overall, I think the thing that helped the most was therapy. And knowing what the expectations were.

    You're in a bit of a rough spot because of Jayden. You want to show him that you take care of family and have a charitable heart, but you also want to show him that you have self-respect and know when to say enough is enough. It's a tough juggling act and I wish you nothing but the best!

  30. Not to make light of your situation, but when I first started reading it, it reminded me of Uncle Eddie from Christmas Vacation. Some people don't know when to leave or when their stay is up. But family is family. Think of it as karma; you're doing something good for someone, so something good will happen to you.

  31. Budget & the Beach says:

    Wow tough situation. It's easy for me to sit and say create a deadline, but I'm afraid you might have to. Listen my brother has been taking advantage of my family (not me) forever, and believe me he made their life hell when they put their foot down, making them feel guilty and saying awful things to my mom and dad. (that's a blog i was planning on writing). But the fact is you might be doing a disservice to her by letting her stay there without some kind of structure or boundary. Like you said she is acting like a teenager. I can pretty much guarantee she won't end up living in her car, because she will probably find some place else to stay. And if she did stay in her car-as tough as that might seem, it might be the wake up call she needs. But whatever you decide, I'm sure it's difficult, and you feel bad.

  32. I let people, even family, know exactly how I feel. If you tell her that you feel like she's using you and needs to start contributing in some way, maybe she'll step up. She needs to be called on her crap so she knows why she will eventually be booted out on her butt if she continues being useless. It's honesty and hopefully at least a little motivating. Just my 2 cents – good luck with whatever you decide!

  33. Wow, that’s a really tough situation. I don’t really know what I would do.

    Others have suggested this, but my first thought was limiting her phone/internet usage. She will need those things for job hunting, but you still might be able to limit them. I don’t know anything about parental controls on cell phones, but if there is a way to limit her texts and/or minutes that would be good. For internet, it’s a bit of a pain, but you can change the password on the wireless (assuming it’s not easy for her just to hook up with ethernet) and tell her she can’t have it until she buys groceries or does the dishes or whatever else you need done around the house, or until she brings you a draft of her resume (and subsequently makes changes based on your suggestions).

    I’m not sure I could kick someone out either, but you can’t afford to let her keep mooching everything off of you. The sooner you set SOME limits, the easier it will be to help her get on her feet, or, at the very least, you limit the damage to your own situation before she runs off with a new man.

    Good luck…

  34. Been here with family. Turned out after spending literally tens of thousands of dollars on them i finally ran out of money. And when I couldn't give them any more? Turns out they didn't go homeless, or hungry or anything – they found a way to continue doing what they were doing. Change the password on your Internet (daily if necessary) and give her access only for specific blocks of time to hopefully job hunt. Disconnect the tv unless ou want to watch it. Give her a list of chores and a deadline for getting out. Reading the extra part in the comments it looks like there was a period between blowing the alimony and getting back with the ex – she survived then – she can do it again.

    Also, make sure all of your financial information, credit cards, cash, etc is secure,

  35. You're doing a really honorable thing, but this isn't your burden. She sounds like she acts like a kid, so she has to be treated like one. Unless she meets a deadline or an ultimatum, I'm afraid it sounds like she'll be there for a very, very long time.

  36. What a rough situation! I'm putting myself in your shoes, and I would have to say that I'd ask other family members to share in the burden of housing her. When I think of the family members in my family who are capable ot this behavior, I know I'd have to have help. I'd also have to clearly tell the moocher when they were no longer allowed to stay at my house, like say I'd kick them out in a month or something. Good luck!

  37. I applaud you for having sympathy and mercy, because it's the right thing to do. I say this even if she made bad choices. Telling a family member to get lost and live in a car would be awful IMO.

    Having said that, I think that it's time to set boundaries to this person that has the chance to become toxic to your own finances and life. Not giving some ultimatum that's tough for her to meet, but really make it very clear to her that this is a temporary situation for her. And, importantly, that she needs to get moving on finding work and getting her life in order. So maybe an ultimatum can be given that is reasonable for her to meet, but one that's firm and makes clear that you're helping her in this capacity only for the short-term.

  38. As a personal finance blogger you should use what you know…she needs to fully understand what kind of burden she is imposing on you. Take your finance knowledge and sit her down to talk about your current financial situation with just you and Jayden, then show her what adding another non-working adult does to a budget. You may have to exaggerate a little, add in things like your food budget now provides for 5 Ramen Noodles meals a week instead of baked chicken dinners, can't buy new shoes for Jayden when he needs them now, etc, etc. She is using your guilt to support herself, you need to step up and return the favor. Lay the guilt back on her and show her exactly what she is doing to you and your son in this situation if she continues on the same path of irresponsibility. It is a touch of tough love with a big heaping dose of reality. Good luck to you in this situation, I hope it ends well for the both of you.

  39. Lots of good suggestions that i agree with! Sooner get things sorted out the better.. worse case scenario you tell her to leave.. but if that is the case you would have had to do that just later with lot more headache trouble etc.. etc.. best case she turns things around and moves out on her own sooner.. either way she is moving out.. how and when is up to her..

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