Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Concerned Sister and Aunt” Responds (Again)

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Concerned Sister and Aunt,” whose sister, a single mother, was planning to elope with a former boyfriend she’d only been reunited with a few weeks. We’ve actually already been updated once before, but now we have a (not-so-happy) update to the update, after the jump.

I thought I would give you another update because things have really changed with my sister. Three months and one week into their marriage, all hell broke loose. There was a huge fight about Facebook of all things. There was a lot of jealousy and many issues surrounding who was friending whom and ultimately they decided to separate. There was also a concern on her part that he was favoring the two younger kids while being very hard on her oldest. I asked her if she would consider counseling because there were a lot of underlying issues, but she refused (much to his chagrin).

Three days after the separation, there was an even bigger fight. They were still living in the same house and the fight escalated to violence, one person being arrested, my 10-year-old nephew being told that he needed to leave the house with their dog, and a major Facebook and in-person slam war between my sister, her soon-to-be ex-husband and their friends and family (I opted to stay out of it completely). While my sister couldn’t return to the house they had just moved into together for three days, he took the stove, the medicine cabinet, and a lot of other items. All in all, it has been a huge mess. The kids seem to be holding up okay but my sister is making a lot of bad decisions (including moving in with her ex who is not a healthy person, does drugs and drinks a lot, has scared their mutual children, etc). I am still trying to be there for her, but have been quite upfront with how I feel about decisions she asks my advice about (ok, and some that she hasn’t if they are affecting the kids).

I wish I could have stuck to the good update, but overall this was a really messy situation and I wish she had listened to those of us around her that told her it may be better to wait to get married. All I can ask for now is that she focus on herself and her kids and move forward with her life, hopefully making better decisions. Thank you and your readers again for all the advice as I am still using it to help deal with how to talk to her as she tries to rebuild her life out of this turmoil.

Jesus, those poor kids. Please continue to be there for them as much as you can. It seems they could really use a stable and caring adult in their lives. Good luck!

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

25 comments… add one
  • avatar

    lets_be_honest September 8, 2011, 12:16 pm

    Whoa! If I’m reading this right, she has since moved in with another abusive, drug using ex. Although maybe this has already happened, since arrests were made, where is child protective services?!?!

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  • avatar

    milli September 8, 2011, 12:16 pm

    This is just a suggestion, I do not know your financial status, but you could ask for custody of the children. I honestly think they will have a lot to suffer if they stay with your sister any longer. But I also know that will very much damage your relationship with your sister.

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    • avatar

      LW September 8, 2011, 1:03 pm

      I wish I could and I have looked into it, but as I posted below, there is a lot in the way.

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    • avatar

      GatorGirl September 8, 2011, 1:50 pm

      I second this. It is an incredible burden to taken on someone else’s children, but if you go through the correct legal chanels you should be able to get child support. It may seem like the children are “holding up” but you have no idea what sort of psycological reprocussions seeing this sort of violence and drug/alcohol abuse could have on them.

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    • avatar

      Lamia September 8, 2011, 3:09 pm

      I was just thinking that. Those poor kids. This entire thing must be awful for them.

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    • katie

      katie September 8, 2011, 7:58 pm

      that was my first thought as well… poor guys. some people should just not be allowed to have children…. ever.

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  • avatar

    El September 8, 2011, 12:32 pm

    “I am still trying to be there for her”

    Um…excuse me?? I think that ship has sailed. Your sister is an unfit mother and those kids should have been removed from her care a long time ago. You’re JUST AS GUILTY if you do nothing. Time for you to get social workers/child services involved. NOW.

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    • avatar

      LW September 8, 2011, 1:02 pm

      I haven’t sat around and contacted the proper authorities prior to this being posted, but at this point there is nothing they can do because the children haven’t been physically harmed. That’s a whole different issue with the system and I hope they don’t wait until someone gets hurt. I keep on top of it the best I can (from a few hours away) and regularly check up to see if there’s any change in what they “can do”. If I could take them, I would but I’m having trouble staying afloat financially as it is and since they won’t do anything about it, I doubt I can make an effective case to get them forcefully.

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    • avatar

      DebMoore September 8, 2011, 3:37 pm

      She is gulity of something she didn’t do? She didn’t choose to have kids that she is jerking around or marry a string of losers. And how do you know Child Services hasn’t been involved? I think it’s really crappy put this young women down who seems to be doing everything she can to help!
      Dear LW, keep up the good work. Thank you for being there for your sister’s children, they will really need the love and support you can offer to them!

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    • avatar

      summerkitten26 September 8, 2011, 5:06 pm

      correct me if i’m wrong, but i read this as yes, she should try to be there for her sister, but she should go about seeing how she can help her nieces and nephews (since, sadly, her sister is kind of beyond help right now). even if it’s focusing her attention on the children and connecting with them multiple times a day, her focus should be on the children that she’s so worried about, because they’re still at a very real risk for physical/psychological/emotional damage. I know too many of my friends who grew up in similar situations who looked at their family members and wondered why if they cared so much, why didn’t they exercise their adulthood to try to remove them from the situation. she may not be financially able to take them to live with her (relationship with sister be damned, in my honest harsh opinion), but she should be doing everything in her power to make they’re fed, safe, sheltered and heard.

      long story short, she should be “there for them” more than she should be “there for her.”

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  • EscapeHatches

    EscapeHatches September 8, 2011, 12:38 pm

    Holy crap. How is CPS not all over this? Please, please LW, consider going to CPS yourself. See what it would take to get an order of protection for the kids from their stepdad, whatever you can do. Get your parents involved too, as grandparents they have some rights.

    Good luck. Those poor kids need a stable home.

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  • avatar

    donkey September 8, 2011, 12:40 pm

    wow…lol
    shallow people get married too soon, and fall apart just as quickly, what can you say?

    you cannot change who people are.

    you can however distance yourself from these people, if you wish to do so.

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  • avatar

    donkey September 8, 2011, 12:41 pm

    wow…lol
    shallow people get married too soon, and fall apart just as quickly, what can you say?

    you cannot change who people are.

    you can however distance yourself from these people, if you wish to do so.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey September 8, 2011, 1:02 pm

    Given everything you’ve written, I’m very concerned for the welfare of her children. Being dragged from home to home, witnessing their mother’s MULTIPLE abusive relationships is incredibly dangerous for them now, and for their well-being as they grow into adulthood. Children tend to emulate what they’ve seen, and these children have seen more than enough to permanently damage them. I think you need to do whatever it takes to protect those kids, even if it means damaging or ruining your relationship with your sister. The welfare of her children should be the first priority for her, and clearly it isn’t. I think the responsible adults in these children’s lives should put them first, if their mother won’t. I’m not sure of your options, but I would advise come research and perhaps consult with a lawyer or social worker. Best of luck.

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    • avatar

      LW September 8, 2011, 2:03 pm

      I am trying to do everything I can, unfortunately the legal channels have roadblocked me, but I am pushing forward as much as possible.

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  • TaraMonster

    TaraMonster September 8, 2011, 1:17 pm

    I’m sorry for what you and the kids are going through. When I was a kid my parents put my brothers and I through similar tumultuous and traumatizing experiences. My mother is mentally ill and my father is just selfish and careless. Their divorce lasted four years, and the custody battles lasted for fifteen years. I was fortunate enough to have my mother’s younger sister as a positive role model. She also lived over an hour away, but picked us up for weekends at least once a month, provided emotional and often financial support to us, and it was invaluable – especially after my mother left us behind and moved across the country.
    I guess that’s the reason I’m commenting. Those kids will desperately need a positive role model, and desperately need love. I’m not saying their parents can’t provide love, but love given by someone who is unstable causes psychological hang-ups. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my aunt is the main reason my brothers and I are functioning members of society- we’re all college educated with good jobs, living fairly normal middle-class lives. I always half-joke that if it weren’t for my aunt I would be a junkie working the corner.
    I consider my aunt to be more of a mother to me than my real mother is. She’s never once behaved as if we were a burden to her, though as an adult looking back, she sacrificed quite a bit to take care of children that were not hers. She will be the one who goes to pick out my wedding dress with me, the one babysitting my children, the one whose house will always feel like my home, and the one whose (sometimes unsolicited) advice can be spot on/irritating/wonderful. I’m not saying you should become their mother, or take on the full responsibility of raising them. It’s a lot. I know my aunt is very sad over my mother, and often bit off more than she could chew. In my own experience, though, having a level, supportive, and loving aunt was -and is- invaluable.

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    • avatar

      ReginaRey September 8, 2011, 1:29 pm

      This is a great story, thanks for sharing. I’m so glad that you’re aunt played such a positive, pivotal role in you and your sibling’s life. It goes to show the LW that her actions right now can and will have significant impact on the welfare of her nieces and nephews.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 8, 2011, 5:50 pm

    Yeah. Your sister sounds fucking nuts. I am left assuming that SHE was the one arrested and that’s why she was away for three days which gave her soon to be ex-husband access to the house… (Again, I am making a pretty big assumption here, but really, why else would you be so vague? “One person was arrested…”) God, I really feel for those kids. I hope you can step in and do something. Anything…

    Gee, straight people are such great parents.

    Sad. Just sad. This could be the most depressing update ever.

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  • avatar

    WatersEdge September 8, 2011, 7:03 pm

    To all those who think that social services should be involved:

    I agree with you all that the children are going through a damaging ordeal and that they aren’t being raised right, at all. They will be emotionally disadvantaged (to put it lightly) as they continue to grow up, especially if their mother’s erratic behavior continues, which it seems that it will. I really feel for these kids.

    That said, do you all really think that someone’s kids should be taken away because they get into a physical altercation with their spouse, once, and then break up? Or because they’re volatile and make bad decisions? It takes a LOT for kids to be taken away, and with good reason. That’s very traumatic for kids. Children need to be abused physically or neglected (i.e., starved) before the authorities will remove them. This situation is not to the level of removing the children from the home. There are lots and lots of people out there who have/had really horrible childhoods. If we took them all from their parents, there would not be enough people left to watch them.

    I wish it were different, but it’s not. LW, best of luck to you. Try to be as positive an influence as possible on those kids and be ready to step in if your sister gets to the point where she can’t take care of them anymore.

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    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark September 8, 2011, 9:03 pm

      Well, it sounds to me like the MOM was the aggressor which — frankly — yeah worries me. It’s not exactly a huge leap from hitting your spouse to hitting your children… And then there is the fact that she lives with known drug abusers which very much makes me assume that she, too, is using…

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      • avatar

        rob ottapocalypse September 8, 2011, 10:49 pm

        I’m going to start calling you RealisticGayMark.

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      • avatar

        Chilosa161 September 9, 2011, 12:39 am

        A good reason for the LW to take the kids while the mom figures out her own issues (drug or otherwise…it’s obvious that they are there).

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  • avatar

    Chilosa161 September 9, 2011, 12:37 am

    Facebook. It’s a government machine invented to tear us apart, people…

    No, but seriously? This is an awful situation and it highlights the problems that this couple had to begin with. I know that you’ve looked into it and it seems like there is a lot in the way but if the courts get involved (which they almost certainly will), you MUST testitfy on behalf of the kids, LW. Push for it as much as you can.

    Maybe one way of working it out (without having to take legal custody) would be to offer to keep the kids while your sister deals with the soon-to-be ex and potentially gets some help for her own issues. You could offer it as a way to take some weight off of her, and then be able to give the kids some distance and care.

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  • avatar

    Greebo September 9, 2011, 1:22 pm

    LW–I’m so sorry for those kids. For what it’s worth, I think that by not engaging in the “Facebook war” and keeping your focus on the kids, you deserve applause. Is there someone else in your family who could take the kids at least for a while? Would your sister be receptive if this were broached as a temporary, help to get her back on her feet move? I can’t think of any other way to handle this. It sounds like you’ve tried Friend of the Court already, along with CPS. If nothing else, can you take the kids for a weekend or something to give them a safe, stable place? I’m so sorry to hear about this mess. Best wishes.

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