I’m a divorced single mother of a now 20 yr old son. My only sibling is my sister who is 6 years younger than myself, and she has never been married or had any children. About a year ago my son started dating his first “real” girlfriend and things have been going downhill for him ever since. He doesn’t have his driver’s license yet and he just up and quit his job after being there for 2 whole years and working himself up to a management position. He moved in with his gf and her roommate after knowing her for about a month and apparently she gets government assistance to help pay for her housing and food. He says she has a disability. All I know for certain is that she is a Type I diabetic who is insulin dependent and she also says she is schizophrenic. He has told me that she has seizures at times, so perhaps that is why she receives assistance?
This whole situation is beyond concerning to me. I worry day and night about what will become of him. He used to be a hard working young man. He never gave me any trouble and did what he was supposed to do. Now it seems his whole personality has changed. He has no ambition, no drive, no aspirations to be better.
My sister and I live with my elderly parents. My son usually comes over to visit everybody on Sundays. If my sister is home during his visit she will drill him with questions about his plans for the future. She always has this snarky condescending tone to her voice, and when he tries to answer her questions she just talks completely over him. She tells me that I didn’t discipline him enough when he was younger, and that he needs some tough love at the present moment. There are even times that she comes across as envious of him telling me that he gets away with things that she never would have been able to get away with doing. She is always telling me about how “lucky” he is to be able to sit at home and not work everyday. She says “I wish I didn’t have to work. Your son is so lucky.” She tells me that he doesn’t know what the word “no” means, and that he needs to be knocked down off his high horse. This past Sunday he came by to visit and she immediately started in on him with all of her questions and then proceeded to call him a bum to his face. He of course snapped right back at her and a huge argument ensued.
Believe me, I am sorely disappointed with my son right now. I have talked to him repeatedly about changing his life, and warned I feel helpless and terribly worried. I know my sister is only pointing out the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts. I am trying so hard to acknowledge and respect her point of view. My relationship with her has been strained throughout the years because of her sharp tongue an insensitivity. When she gets mad she will literally look at you with a smile on her face and then shred you to pieces with her vicious tongue. She is my only sibling. I am 45 years old and so very tired of fighting and being at odds. I recently began seeing a therapist to try and sort out some of my feelings about what is happening with my son. To my surprise, most of my sessions end up being about my sister and how badly she makes me feel at times. I have tried reasoning with her many times to no avail. I know I haven’t been a perfect parent. I’m not much of a disciplinarian either, but I did my best. I feel that if the roles were reversed and my sister were the parent, I would offer advice if asked but otherwise I would stay out of it. How can I make my sister understand this?MoeSeptember 9, 2022 at 10:16 pm #1115963
First, why are you living with your sister if she makes you so unhappy? You are SO upset about your son, but what about YOUR situation? Also, why are you SO disappointed in your son? It sounds like the woman he is with has disabilities and your son is not working, but rather than you AND you sister judging him, how about supporting him and understanding he is an adult who makes his own choices. Maybe he is not making the choices you want for him, but shaming him won’t make him change. It will only drive him away.ronSeptember 10, 2022 at 7:44 am #1115965
It sounds like you are more or less forcing your son to spend time with your sister. Meet him some place other than your parents’ house. Why don’t you move out of your parents’ house. If you can’t do that, meet him for lunch somewhere. Can his grandparents also spend time with him away from your sister? Your sister seems very unhappy with her life and your son is an easy person for her to dump on. You are putting your son in a pathological position and need to stop.AnonymousseSeptember 10, 2022 at 8:56 am #1115968
I think you need to move out and see your sister much less.
Please stop looking down on your son so much. He might be a little lost right now, but shaming him about it probably isn’t going to help, as you know.
Good lord – your son is 20. Most 20 year olds aren’t super successful. You and your sister need to stop chastising him and just let him live his life. He’ll probably come around eventually, but the more you push him the harder he’s going to push back.AnonymousseSeptember 13, 2022 at 1:05 pm #1115987
It honestly sounds like you and your sister are projecting your failures or insecurities onto him. He’s twenty and out of the house, whatever shape that took. You both still live at home, with mum and dad and apparently despise each other and she just makes you and him feel horrible all the time. That sounds like a miserable existence.
I’d say he’s maybe…gotten further than you both? Is that too harsh? I’m sorry. You both are really hard on him. He’s not dealing drugs, stealing cars, getting in fights or is a piss drink alcoholic. He’s just twenty, with a strange gf you don’t like. It’s a phase. I doubt they’ll marry and be together forever.
This is from the LW (not sure why it went to my email instead of getting posted here, but here it is):
I really appreciate your response, and no it wasn’t too harsh. I’m not thrilled to bits about my living situation currently, however there are reasons why I live with my parents. The main reason being tthat my dad’s health is failing. I quite agree with you that failures and insecurities are being projected onto my son. I believe that my sister is resentful of the fact that she has never married or had any children, and tries to make up for that in some way by lecturing my son. I told her last night that she needed to try and be more supportive instead of always throwing out verbal digs and judging him. Instead of listening and trying to understand my feelings, she began saying things like “I must not care if my son has a job and/or is a contributing member of society” and “one day soon she will see him living in a homeless camp.” As I stated in my initial post, my sister has always had a sharp tongue and doesn’t really care if what she says hurts someone’s feelings. I used to get really angry when she would say mean things and we would get in these huge fights. I am done engaging with her in that manner. I am at the point in my life that I need peace. It’s not worth my time or energy anymore.
It is very clear to me that I should most likely look for somewhere else to live. I live in a major city in the southern part of the US. Rent is ridiculously expensive at the current moment. Just a tiny one-bedroom apartment is around $1,900 USD currently, and that is NOT including utilities. I would struggle financially, but perhaps it would be worth the money to keep my sanity intact.
Thanks to everyone who commented. Your advice is much appreciated!
Thank you to everyone who commented. Your candid feedback was much appreciated. I quite agree with most of what was said. I have always felt that my son is still very young and perhaps is just finding his way. As one of the commenters stated, he may be a little lost but ultimately I do have faith in him. It’s true that I have expressed my concern for him at times, but I don’t ever throw hurtful digs at him or talk to him like my sister does. I spoke with her last night in fact and urged her to try and be less critical and more encouraging when speaking with him. Of course she had a couple of sarcastic comments to make about that, but I can’t snap back and fight with her like I used to. It’s just not worth my time or energy to engage with her like that anymore.
It’s clear that I need to find an apartment and get away from her, however I live in a major city in the southern part of the US and rent for even just a tiny one-bedroom apartment right now is right at $1,900 USD and that doesn’t include utilities. I will struggle financially, but it might just be worth it to preserve my sanity. Also, my dad’s health has been failing and that is really the major reason why I haven’t sought to move out sooner. He had an major health scare back in January of this year, and made the comment while still in the hospital that he was so comforted and glad that his family were all together under one roof in case he had another emergency. I love my parents more than words could ever express. They were there for me through my divorce and have always helped me out with my son. I could never repay them for all their love and kindness but I will try and help with whatever they may need going forward.
Thanks again for everyone’s input!