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Steve_A's avatar

I am in a serious cross roads here please help me?

Asked by Steve_A (5102 points ) January 1st, 2010

I am really not sure what to do here. I will explain my situation without being long winded as best as possible.

I would say in the past 5 years I have come to lose everything expect my little sister and brother (she just turned 10 and my brother is 15) but because of drugs and moving from home to home, I will not go into details, but my father has not been around for those past years and my mother is basically not in control of herself and will be leaving for rehab.

My grandma has decided after talking to our old social worker to take care of my sister and brother from my understanding though we have not moved, I currently help take care of my siblings and help bills/rent. I figured after they move I will go on my own and take care of my own business.

This is where I have problem I am not sure 100% if they will be ok, I have in the past year or two become the one to say yes and no… I bought them Christmas,try to help them out with stuff, always breaking up there petty fights, and bug them about there grades in school. My sister is doing good but my brother is sipping in math a bit. I worry that my grandma means well but truth but told we hardly know her and I am not sure if she is going to but taking best care of them. and my sister is getting more older and I worry alot about what seems she is already having some body changes, if I do not talk to her who will?Whos looking out for them?

My brother and I are on good terms with this subject.

Like my brother needed a field trip for class, and If I had not given him the money would? My sister wanted some animal books (shes loves animals) who would?

Alas I feel very guilty of leaving them behind, as I wanted to go to school for music ( I know dumb choice, theres no money there) but I also want to follow my heart. but then I start to think if something happens I will not have the money to support them then what do I do?

I have considered military but I will most likely be shipped around a lot and would not be able to be there anyway and that not fair to them. I am not sure if its for me.

I am 19 right now if that makes any difference, least with being adult I can gain custody if need, yes?

What would you do in my situation?

If not for my brother and sister, I would not even ask this question I’d go after what I want, with no worries but I feel like I have become a fill-in parent or something….so I have to right?

I really don’t know what to do, I have no one to talk to about this….I need to figure something out…..

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33 Answers

Violet's avatar

(personal opinion) You are not their parent. They are not your responsibility. Being their guardian will ruin your life. You need to go to college, or join the military or whatever, and do what you want. Let the grandmother be their guardian, and just be in their life when you can. Don’t revolve your life around your siblings.

daemonelson's avatar

@Violet I agree completely.

It’s just not your responsibility. They have a guardian, you should feel free to do what you like.

Violet's avatar

@daemonelson oh good! I was kind of worried I was going to get yelled at for my answer

Steve_A's avatar

I am open to all answers…..you have a valid point.

FishGutsDale's avatar

Tough situation…Tough choice. If your grandmother can provide adequate care, then i don’t think not knowing her is reason enough to put your life on hold to take care of your brother and sister. I think your lucky that she is willing to look after them and that you should chase your dreams while she is still around to do it. Just whatever you do go after it 100%.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I agree with @Violet also, but applaud @Steve_A for his efforts thus far. You have taken on responsibilities far beyong your years and have shown exceptional maturity in your caring for your younger siblings. There comes a point though where you must look to the direction that your own life will take. If you continue to live only for their well-being you are sacrificing your own life.

A hearty “well done” for your actions to date, but now is the time to care for yourself. +GQ

Bagardbilla's avatar

Again personal opinion only…
Perhaps because of where I’m from… How I was raised… Time of morning it is I’m answering this question… But If I were you, I would stay, I would get involved in their lives, I would become integrail part of their lives. Live and help support grandma, (so not all responsibility is on you, but you can stay close to help out and be a pillar and a compass for your siblings. You can still work, go to school, share your life with them, your independence with them without abandoning them. You are still young, your whole life will still be ahead of you. The easy and simple route would be to take a selfish approach… The more resposible, mature, selfless, caring, loving, manly, thing would be to stick around (so you can contribute emotionally to their lives), get a job (so you can contribute financially).
It’s shitty the cards you were dealt, but I can see you coming out of this having made ‘chicken salad’ out of ‘chicken shit!’
You’re a young man but not too young to handle it! When everyone else is playing nintendo and getting drunk on campus, you’ll already be doing taking on your responsibilities as a Man!
Yes it will be hard, it won’t be a cake walk, but YOU CAN DO IT!!! you seem to love and care for your siblings, and you will have support from your Grandma. You can keep this family together, and they need YOU!
Without sounding overly fatherly, I’m proud of you for your considering to do so… I see in it the germination of a Man of Great charecter in the making!
if you need to talk some more in private, you can pm me here.
Best of Luck to You and your Family!

Steve_A's avatar

A job is not a problem income is a must. I have been working since I was little over 16 now, but this job I work now is pretty a much a dead-end slightly, above minimum wage job.

Which is also worries me, could I make ends meet with a degree in music? When I say this, I am not worried about myself I can take care of myself, I mean for my siblings.

Midnighttoker2's avatar

Steve A, you got some damned good advice from Bagardbilla.You’ll be happier with yourself trying to follow it. Do not walk away,it will be worth it and make you a better person. Your b/s will be better for it too. I would add a few things. First,become their Health Care Proxy,second possibly Power of Attorney. I would also suggest moving all in with Grandma. Social Services will probably try to get involved sooner or later. Scary. Show as stable a home life as possible. You or Grandma may also be able to get SSI benefits for them.

snowberry's avatar

My daughter solved this problem by taking on a double major. She’s getting a degree in teaching Japanese, and a second degree in teaching high school English. When she graduates, she will have many more options than if she had aa plain old teaching degree. There is excellent money to be had in translation for example. I can see her teaching school to feed her soul, and doing translation to pay the bills. If she can’t get a job teaching school, she can still pay the bills in any number of jobs in industry with her Japanese skills.

I suggest you get to know your grandmother, for your own sake as well as for your peace of mind regarding your brother and sister. It’s very difficult being a single parent, as I am sure you already are aware, having already played that role a bit. I can see your sister and brother really benefiting from having you around, and Grandmother would appreciate you too. In the best of worlds, everyone would win.

Can you go to school and live with grandma and the kids? That might be the best scenario. You would be a second safety net for the kids, should something happen to grandma.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Your siblings are very lucky to have you, and you are very lucky to have such a strong sense of responsibility and perception to see ahead. I agree with @Bagardbilla and @Midnighttoker2. If at all possible, move in with your grandmother, and if you are planning paying rent to someone, pay it to your grandmother. Work, go to school part time, be there for your brother and sister, and be a role model for them, which you are. Figure out how you and your grandmother can work together and share the responsibility.

It takes a village, in times of crisis. You can do this. Don’t be afraid to speak up with either your grandmother, or the social worker that be appointed, or the CASA volunteer, if one is appointed.

wildflower's avatar

Take responsibility for yourself and your development first, then what you can share with your siblings to help them on their way. The best you can do for your siblings is to serve as a role model and stay in touch with them.
You will be in a much better position to support and help them if you take care of yourself first.
...Also, as others here have said, you aren’t their guardian. You are their role model, but not their parent. Lead by example.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

You already have some pretty good advice so far, the only thing I would add is be careful what you do go to school for. You are right there is no money in music, a degree in music is more of a luxury, with your amount of responsibility I would advise you to take something else that you know pays the bills. I mean you can always minor in music, or go back for music. I dunno, unless you absolutely know you want to be a music teacher or something. Just some advice from someone who just graduated from college though.

lovemypits86's avatar

my mother was a heavy drinker and i got left by myself for days on end and my father was in the air force so he was gone all the tim so i learned to raise myself. and if i were you i would go for custody if you think you could handle it. Sadly it seems like you are the parents. and it’s not your fault or their fault that this happen to ya’ll and they will respect you for taking care of them and raising them. if you are all they got. i’m sorry that ya’ll are going trough this

mrentropy's avatar

@Steve_A You have my respect. In some ways I understand exactly what you’re going through.

You need to start your life. While you’re not your siblings parent, you are still their family and I understand not wanting to leave them behind. But you don’t have to. If it’s at all possible, what I would do is stick around for a bit. Make sure your grandmother can handle the responsibility and that there are no problems. Even if you have to go away for school (which I endorse, musical or otherwise), there’s always a phone to call and check to make sure things are okay.

Your sister is still young, but your brother is old enough, I think, to be honest with you. And if you’re all like I think you are you’re all a bit older mentally than you are physically. You’ve probably all been forced to grow up faster than you should have.

I know the guilt you’re feeling. But, in the end, you need to work on yourself because if you don’t, you won’t be able to help them later on if it’s needed. You don’t have to abandon them to do that. Taking custody of them at 19 will be problematic in furthering your life and you don’t want to start feeling resentment for that.

So, help yourself as much as you can. Helping yourself will help you help them in the long run. Don’t lose contact with any of them and, because she’s youngest, pay a lot of attention to your sister so she doesn’t think you’re just leaving her.

Response moderated
Zen_Again's avatar

@Steve_A I really feel for your predicament and I can’t even imagine how nerve-wracking it must be – even if you did have a better support group of friends and family to confide in and consult with.

I am thousands of miles away or I’d offer some kind of assistance. For now, just accept a man-hug. I hope you make the right decisions, and that your lot fares better in this New Year. {{{hugs}}}

Steve_A's avatar

@Zen_Again Haha…Thanks, and since I am quite comfortable with my sexuality (which is straight if you must know) I will accept your man-hug. lol….that made me laugh though :) in a good way.

denidowi's avatar

I think you should continue to feel some responsibility to your younger siblings: it is what has always been done in the past in similar situations; my grandmother lost both her parents too by the time she was 17.
My own parents split when I was 3.
My grandparents died before I reached 10, and we lived with my mother.
But being the oldest, I knew she needed help: one cannot simply ‘follow one’s heart’ in life’s hopes and dreams; Responsibilities come before dreams: dreams need to be ‘put on hold’ at such times.
In 8 years, when your youngest sister is 18, she should basically be in position to take care of herself; in the meantime, if none of your siblings have closeness with your grandparent, you should stick around until everyone feels much closer and more comfortable with her.

Kayak8's avatar

Wow, what a tough situation to be in. My heart goes out to you. As the oldest with a younger brother and sister, I faced some of the same decisions when my dad died (I was 18). Because I was concerned for the well-being of my sibs, I stayed around (while going to college for a degree in English which is at least as useful as music!).

Most jobs just care that you have a degree (demonstrates that you can stick with something). Many years later I went back to school for a masters degree in my field of choice, but I didn’t do that right away.

I stayed in the same town to go to school (which may not be a choice for you) and was available (by phone or visit) to my siblings as needed. I took my sister and her school friends Christmas Caroling (yes we still did that back in the day) and I went to all the various school functions. I made sure the teachers and the principal knew who I was and my relationship to the sibs and made sure they had MY phone number and were aware of the home situation.

Spangy's avatar

What a tough situation. You need to follow your heart while also being there for your sibs. You sound like a very mature 19. I’m willing to bet that you are a great roll model for your sister and brother and will continue to be no matter what you decide. Maybe look for a school close by so that you can still be an active part of their lives. If you choose to stay and put your dreams on hold your brother and sister might end up being the ones who feel guilty for holding you back. Be honest with them, they are old enough to understand. Tell them how hard this decision is and how much you love them and will always be there for them. Nothing is more important than family and I think you can actually do both. Good luck.

tinyfaery's avatar

Maybe you can talk to your granny about you living with her, as well. Keep your job, go to school and help her with the kids. This way you also have a bit of support to help you pursue your own life, and you can help your family, too.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Steve_A, I respect you immensely for attempting (and achieving) as much as you already have. But now it’s time to step back a bit and let someone else help out. When you say that your grandmother is going to take custody of your siblings now—and without knowing what responsibility your grandmother may share for what happened with your parents—you should believe that she never wanted such a result for any of you: abandonment by both of them. If she bears any responsibility for how they turned out (and I expect she would feel so), then she will also attempt to learn from whatever mistakes she might have made in the past and not repeat them. (Apparently there’s also a social worker involved, which should be a helpful relationship to maintain.)

Consider that even if we admit that you’re a man—and you have accepted responsibility in a way that many men even twice your age would not or could not—you’re still a teenaged man. That makes a difference. Your grandmother will have raised children into adulthood (even if that obviously wasn’t a perfect process), and you are barely an adult yourself. You really have only an idea of the future for your siblings—and you have to make your own way, too. And despite your willingness and courage to take on what you have, you need help. The smart thing is to recognize that and accept what’s offered.

Definitely stay involved with your brother and sister. Keep communicating with them (letters are better than phone calls, because in bad times—and every teen has bad times—those are something they can read over and hold onto). You need to get started with your own life, even as you stay interested and involved (long distance) with theirs. I’m sure that you won’t let them feel abandoned, and with you as a brother I don’t imagine that would be possible.

As long as the lines of communication are open between you and your siblings—and between you and your grandmother!—then you can always help out and mediate the problems that will come up from time to time (if they’re so severe that they need mediation) and mainly support your grandmother in her efforts to raise them.

Keep in mind that there will be some friction. Your grandmother will do things differently from you. The kids may not like all of the changes. She may not cook the same meals, enforce the same rules, may appear to be overly strict about things that you and the kids don’t consider to be important. That’s inevitable. But they need to learn to adapt, and… you need to let go of the reins.

Good luck to all of you.

Pandora's avatar

@tinyfaery I agree with your possible solution.
@Steve_A I would sit with grandma and talk to her about possible solutions that will make the transition easier. Like tinyfaery said you can move in and help with some financial support while you get school out of the way. Tell her it will be for only a little while. This way your siblings will feel better about it if their entire life isn’t completely changed. It will be comforting for them to know you are still around. However you, must abide by grandmas rules as well so that the other two realize they must also abide by the same rules. If you resist change, so will they. Once you can leave them securely then leave. They will probably need no more than a year to get use to grandma and for grandma to get use to them. By the way the military has military bands. You can talk to a recruiter about joining one. I believe you have to audition though. Good luck.!

DrMC's avatar

First, the granny is willing to help, and likely she has a lot to offer in terms of experience. I would never turn down such an offer. This could free you up to be able to pursue, what we all need, a source of income.

You have been present, for your sibs, and I’m betting they benefit, whether they say so or not.

I would keep these 2 things in mind. The solution may be more clear after talking to granny, she notably has lived a lot longer than you and knows a thing or two. In the end the choice has to be yours. Only you know best what’s in your head.

You may identify a position where what is best for you is not what is best for your sibs. These conflicts define who and what we are and what we become. Keep in mind your sibs don’t want your life to suck

Music is a gift and a passion, one of my loves. When considering following skiing as my profession, I considered that after I got older, all I would be was a ski instructor most likely. I went to college instead. Now skiing doesn’t do much for me. I’m learning to play guitar at this late age.

It never hurts to train in a way that leaves your options open, not just to insure income, but to allow your skills and interests to evolve. Never stop playing. Learn music theory. Get a keyboard to help. Get a real education in it.

CaptainHarley's avatar

One question you should ask yourself about all this:

“At the end, what will I have or leave behind?”

I worked for years at jobs I hated, some of which I wouldn’t have wished on a dog, simply to make sure my children had what they needed. I was in a very unhappy marriage, and could have easily walked away to rebuild my personal life. But at the end of the day, I had to live with my decisions. I love my children and could no more have left them than I could have cut off my own right arm with a rusty saw.

Now my ( grown ) children are happy, loving, successful adults with children of their own. That is my legacy to the world, and I am thankful I had the strength to make that choice all those years ago.

Make whatever choice you think is right, but remember that you will have to live with the outcome of that decision.

Maximillian's avatar

I did not completely read every piece of advice, but here is mine. Do both. Is there a junior college near you? Some place close to your grandparents home? If there is, do it. Go after your degree, while at the same time being a part of your siblings life. You have out done yourself. You are more a man than many other people. Kudos to you. But don’t quit. Be a part of their lives. Go to games, concerts, or whatever. Remember, your siblings have looked to you for advice and everything else. No matter what, no matter the legal guardian, you will always be their parent.
As to your major: go for it. Many people will reel in money from a job they hate. And then there is the vice versa. I think someone already said it, get two majors. In fact, I’d get a teachers degree in music. You obviously know how to take care of kids, so do that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It sounds like you’ve had a lot to deal with and your siblings mean a lot to you – your love for them is clear. You have to do what you need to make a life for yourself – doing that will allow you to be a better brother to your siblings. Your parents have not fulfilled their responsibility to any of you but let’s focus on the future and not the past. You deserve to go to school and to start your own life. Your siblings, too, need to experience life for themselves without always falling back on you.

denidowi's avatar

@Steve_A – I think if you collaborate my general outlook answer along with @tinyfaery ‘s more specifcs answer, I think you will have a very good recipe for how you can more effectively approach your situation – having been in something of similar nature myself growing up – live in with Grandma where possible, ensure you help provide materially for the family’s needs, and over time, you can gradually work in your dreams.
Let me just tell you that life and career pursuit are not over simply because you reach 20+
Opportunities will continue to present themselves, and life will continue to go on for many decades yet.

Steve_A's avatar

Thanks for all for the advice everyone.

I have some plans, it will take maybe couple of months to see just how things unfold.

With that I will take it from there…..

Zen_Again's avatar

Don’t you just love this community? Jellies rock!

denidowi's avatar

Thanks Steve.
Sounds very positive and family productive: in a very real sense, you’re the Head of your Home now. Just don’t abuse it though. Love ‘em.
All the best, young man.

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