Social Question

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Should someone be obliged to support an adult sibling who has made wrong relationship choices more than twice in his/her life?

Asked by ZEPHYRA (20049points) July 15th, 2014

I am totally all for siblings supporting each other and I truly believe we should go to the ends of the earth to help a sibling in trouble. After all that is what family is all about. Family always first! That being said, is it not going too far when an adult sibling who can’t get his/her life together and keeps making silly relationship errors that lead to his/her demise, expects her/his brother/sister to come to the rescue? I am not talking about health issues where help should be granted, I mean the person not being able to stand on his/her feet and expecting brother/sister to come and fish him out of trouble.
Personally, I think it is irresponsible and exploiting behavior. Correct me if I am wrong please!

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32 Answers

cazzie's avatar

Help with emotional support. Give no money.

dina_didi's avatar

You should talk to your sister or brother and express your thoughts. Don’t be aggressive. Tell her (or him) that you will be there for her to support but advice her (or him) when she(/he) is making wrong choices. You are not supposed to help the other person when you don’t fell like you are doing something right. Just help your sister or brother.

canidmajor's avatar

I think that after a certain point in life we should all earn the relationships we have with the people we are related to. An adult, mentally competent sib that expects to be bailed out more than once is just not taking responsibility. We are all subject to the consequences of bad luck and bad choices, and I would hope my family would help me, as I would help them, but I work hard not to repeat my really bad mistakes, and I would hope that they would do the same.

I wouldn’t let my sib die, but I would stop supporting their repeated stupidities.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@canidmajor I totally agree and that is what I would do/support.

elbanditoroso's avatar

One lets ones-self be exploited.

Pachy's avatar

At some point you have to decide there’s no more you can do. I’m not saying that will be easy, but it may be necessary for your own sake. I have a similar issue with my brother.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think it really depends on what decisions we are talking about. Generally speaking, I think there can come a point when family members need tough love. Continued bad choices may need to be evaluated. If there is an underlying cause to these decisions (such as a mental health issue), I’d be more willing to help out. If it is just bad judgement alone, I’d be more apt to go with tough love.

marinelife's avatar

In general, you are right. It would be better if we had the precise circumstances. Is what’s wanted moral or emotional support or financial?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

- Judge all you want, but don’t offer any unwanted advice.

- Even if your sibling asks for advice, the person doesn’t really want it. He’s looking for someone to agree with him and support his bad choices. If you tell him something sensible or explain what you would do in his situation, he’ll ignore you while getting angry.

- Be there for your sibling and provide a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to cry on, and unconditional love.

- Back away from getting involved in the soap-opera drama of this person’s life. You can’t change or fix another person, so taking on her problems will only frustrate and upset you.

- Never give the individual money. This includes loans; a loan to a troubled person is really a gift, and you should have no expectation of ever being repaid.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Moral and emotional support should always be there, it’s the cash flow that should stop if the money is not put to good use.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

“I am totally all for siblings supporting each other and I truly believe we should go to the ends of the earth to help a sibling in trouble. After all that is what family is all about. Family always first!”

You have to make up your mind if you really mean this statement or if you are merely paying lip service and have no intention of helping your elder sibling.

JLeslie's avatar

Why are the break-ups causing them not to be able to stand on their own two feet? I assume you mean financially. I can see how a break up might leave someone temporarily in need of a place to crash, or even financial help in extreme cases or when there are children involved. Is your sibling just going from one relationship to being dependent on relatives to another relationship? That has nothing to do with the relationships, that has to do with their failure to be financially independent.

I would always let a sibling stay with me if they needed a place to stay. I should say I would let them stay with me at least a couple of months and then look for them to be making real steps to get out and be independent, unless we liked the roomate situation together, but then they need to be a paying member of the household.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

NOT ABOUT ME! Yes, I do mean it, but when the sibling gets into shit all the time, borrows money or sets off on unstable business ventures without thinking, then how supportive can a person be?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

“but when the sibling gets into shit all the time, borrows money or sets off on unstable business ventures without thinking, then how supportive can a person be?”

Ummmmm, more supportive?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Ha! Pay off all his loans, pay his bills and wait till he duffs up again and comes running back for the next bail out! Sounds good to me!!!

canidmajor's avatar

@Dan_Lyons : If you have unlimited resources and sibs who never make more than one bad choice, good for you. Most of us are not so fortunate. I don’t think anyone is obligated to rescue someone else because they were raised together.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@canidmajor rescue them yes, love them yes, guide them yes again, but not be forced to clear out loans they take out to support other people who leech off them in turn!

livelaughlove21's avatar

“Family always first!”

I disagree. No one can screw you over like family. I don’t believe that being related to someone gives you some sort of cosmic connection and you should be expected to like them and/or support them no matter what. They’re human beings, and toxic people are toxic people, period.

My sister has a lot of problems. She’s 32, lives at home with my parents and her daughter, has been addicted to narcotics for the past seven years, and has absolutely no direction in life. Am I supportive of any of that? No. If she’s clean, as she supposedly is now, that’s just fine and I have no problem being around her, but I’m not getting involved in her drama when she’s on pills. I will completely cut myself off from her and I don’t feel a single ounce of guilt for doing it. I’m also not one to offer support when someone is being stupid. My sister said herself, if you have a question and you want to hear the honest truth, I’m the girl to ask. If you just want to hear some nice fluffy BS, go elsewhere because I don’t have any to offer. Some (ahem, my mother) think I lack compassion and I should be more understanding and supportive of my sister, but my support is earned. I surround myself with only positive people, and if that means minimizing contact with my family, so be it.

Maybe I’m a bit cold, but I have a lot less stress in my life because of it.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@livelaughlove21 but she needs her family around her, she is a sick young lady. I DO see your need for peace of mind, but she needs her own people on her side at the moment.

JLeslie's avatar

Does the screw up sibling always pay the money back?

livelaughlove21's avatar

@ZEPHYRA My sister has stolen medication from my mother and my grandmother, while she had cancer no less. She overdosed at the bachelorette party she threw for me and we spent hours in the ER after her ex-girlfriend found her unconscious and unresponsive in her car with a burned piece of aluminum foil in her hand (she was cooking the pills and smoking them). She has lied more times than I can count about everything. You can’t believe a word that comes out of her mouth.

I know “it’s not her, it’s the addiction,” but I just don’t have the time or patience for it. She was a good sister when we were growing up, but we no longer have anything in common. You can only help someone that’s willing to help themselves, and it gets old fast when they keep reverting to the same behavior over and over for years. My husband and I spent the day with her recently, since she’s clean. We went out to lunch, hung out at my house watching a movie, and then went out to dinner together. It was a good day and I hope she stays clean, but I don’t expect her to stay clean. I know better.

You feel free to go through the vicious cycle with your siblings who never learn their lessons because “family comes first,” but I chose not to, regardless of your (or anyone else’s) opinion about that. I have my own problems; I’m not taking on anyone else’s.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@JLeslie no, I have been told there is no money for paying back the generous brother.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@livelaughlove21 you are so right. Hope you don’t get disappointed again.

JLeslie's avatar

@ZEPHYRA If I am not paid back there might never be a second loan. It depends on how much money we are talking about. Know that if the brother was always responsible and hit a hard time I might give him money without ever even thinking about being paid back. It would be a gift. But if my brother is a screw up I would make it clear I expect it paid back, maybe even plan a schedule for the pay back, and if he agreed, but never paid me, he would be done. No more money from me. Or, I hope I could stick to that,

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@JLeslie tough situations! It’s not necessarily the paying back that would worry me, it’s the fact that such a person never learns to handle life responsibly!

JLeslie's avatar

@ZEPHYRA Well, if they never are cut off they never need to change. Continually helping them makes the sibling who is helping the enabler.

talljasperman's avatar

My older sister used to give me and my mom $100 to eat out on Christmas and New Years. I am grateful.

JLeslie's avatar

I had the feeling we were talking about a lot more than $100. Maybe I’m wrong. I would very willingly help my siblings with a $100 so they could enjoy a nice Christmas or Thanksgiving.

hearkat's avatar

I’ve never believed that “family comes first” or “blood is thicker than water,” and I do not feel that we are obligated to others simply because of shared DNA (unless you brought them into the world). Respect is earned, and if someone has disrespected me, they will likely not ever earn it back.

I have also found that ‘rescuing’ others is an “enabling” behavior. The person ‘in distress’ never learns how to take accountability for their actions, or how to handle adversity, or how to be a responsible, independent adult, as long as there is always someone there to bail them out. So while one might imagine they’re being helpful by easing someone’s struggle, they’re actually doing them a disservice, by robbing them of the lessons that they apparently need to learn the hard way.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@talljasperman that is not the point, it is great that your sister has done that and I would do that a hundred times over. It is a pleasure to give, the point is not to enable irresponsible behavior.

Araphel's avatar

When you enable a person it makes them become weaker, lazy and even more inconsiderate than they already are! When people recognize the signs of this behavior, Nip that shi# right in the bud ASAP! V….V

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@ZEPHYRA I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. The brightest, strongest, and most responsible person can hit bad times, landing in desperate need of a break and helping hand. If you love and care about the individual, that’s the time to step up and do whatever you can to get him/her through. What greater joy can there be than saving a good person’s life? You’re absolutely right, though, that repeatedly enabling and rewarding bad behavior helps nobody.

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