General Question

nebule's avatar

What would you do if your sister insulted your financial status like this...?

Asked by nebule (16439points) September 10th, 2010

She’s supposed to be my best friend.

It’s an income issue. She and her husband collectively are on £40,000+ per year. I live off benefits at the moments less than £12,000 pa. They have debts like the rest of us. But tonight we were discussing bus fares for children to go to school and low income families get their bus fares paid for them and when this statement was made by another member of the group (it was happy and friends get together on a Friday night) she said… “Of course!!!!” in that kind of… “of course low income families get EVERYTHING paid for them…barstards!!” kind of way.

I’m a low income family. I’m a single mother. At the moment I’m trying my best to get out of the situation I’m in, as no doubt many people in my situation are doing and ‘benefits’ are the only way I can do that.

I expected more from her, but to be honest this isn’t the first time she’s expressed these kind of middle class opinions. I want to call her but I’ve had a few glasses of wine (as she has), or text her, or do something…I’m really angry and very very hurt. I’m incredibly insulted but due to my particular situation feel that whatever I do I’ll be making a mountain out of a mole hill… but this is really important to me…

What on earth do middle class people expect? And this is also in light of the fact that she has her own nursery business and is moaning that the first year that she’s made profit that she actually has to pay tax on it. grrrr what MORE do they want??????????

Sorry I know it’s a rant, but I do want to know what you guys think I should do? Call her? Text her? Beat the crap out of the sofa? Forget it? I won’t be able to speak to her tomorrow..because she scares me…and’s years of classic bullying tactics from my entire family that have pushed me down to the point where I can’t speak my mind sober.

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30 Answers

Ben_Dover's avatar

Just ignore her, and remember she is your sister, so sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
Also keep in mind some people say and act differently around their friends than when on their own.
She is just trying to be one of the gang…It is just a stupid gang she wants to be part of.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I encourage you to try your very hardest to speak your mind tomorrow – while sober. Don’t let them bully you anymore. What she said was hurtful, and if she cares about you at all, she’ll care about how it made you feel.

You don’t need to be angry when you bring it up, but just be honest. Say it hurt you.

chyna's avatar

Don’t say anything tonight as you have been drinking. When she says these things, I’ll bet she doesn’t even think about you being in the “low income” group, doesn’t even mean it towards you at all. You might casually bring it up, in person, when just the two of you are alone. Let her know it hurts you. As you said, she is your best friend, so you should be able to talk to her.

WestRiverrat's avatar

My sister did something similar to me. Until I pulled out the ledger from her first year in college and showed her how much she still ‘owes’ me for bailing her out every month when she overdrafted her checking account.

skfinkel's avatar

Wait. When you are thinking clearly, you can reassess the situation. Maybe nothing will be the best thing to do. You aren’t going to change her mind. So, do the best for yourself.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I also live on government assistance, because I can’t work. I am flabbergasted at the inaccuracies most people have about poor people.

As to your question, call her tomorrow. Don’t call, text, email, or communicate with her tonight while you’re drunk. It won’t be you talking, if you do. It’ll be the alcohol. If you wait until tomorrow, you’ll be able to think with a clear head.

Rarebear's avatar

If she doesn’t like living in a welfare state, then she should move to another country, say, Turkey.

AmWiser's avatar

Personally, I feel you shouldn’t let her words validate who you are. You know why you’re in the position you are in. Others only speculate. You have more to worry about than what someone says or thinks regarding ‘low income’ families. Never apologize to anyone about your situation especially when you know you’re trying to improve it.

kevbo's avatar

Siblings suck in that regard, and I’m sorry that the incident was such a trigger. I can relate wholeheartedly on that issue.

My advice for this incident (it sounds like a small part of a bigger picture) is to maybe apply your Fluther fortitude. She has a point of view that’s informed by her experience. Regardless of her opinion, she’ll wake up tomorrow and pay her taxes and you’ll wake up tomorrow with your benefits. Are you being earnest in your need and in your desire to improve your situation? Good. You have nothing to feel bad about and are using it properly and honestly. It’s there for a reason, and if your sister were in your shoes she’d surely be thankful.

Depersonalize the message. If she’s said something that strikes you as truthful as it applies to you personally, then reflect on the truthfulness of her statement. But discard the rest. It really is immaterial.

nebule's avatar

Thank you guys, I appreciate what you’re saying about the drink…although I’m not drunk I know any criticism would be taken in that context.

I guess I’m still getting over how blinded I have been by my delusions of my family. I can’t believe someone who I thought was close to me…(and granted we haven’t been close since I spoke to her about my childhood abuse and she told me to get over it!) would react this way.

It’s all an eye opener I guess…but a sad one at that. :-(

the100thmonkey's avatar

The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you want her to reconsider the opinions you believe she holds.

If the answer is “yes”, then talk to her in the way described above.

If the answer is “no”, then console yourself with the fact that you and the rest of your family will be the ones she turns to should she ever be in a difficult situation.

RocketGuy's avatar

Seems that small business owners don’t get to see where their tax money goes. They just see their gross income disappear, leaving them with crumbs. They probably don’t like the inefficiencies of govt. systems, since they themselves run a tight ship to stay in business.

My family and I, many years ago, got thousand dollars worth of various types of aid. It had helped us to get into the positions we are in now, so I don’t complain much when I see my tax bill every year. I just wish they could be more open as to where it goes, and be more efficient with it.

trailsillustrated's avatar

get over it. its not the last of that sort of attitude you will hear where you are. people there see everyone on benefits as bludgers. dont let it worry you

Cupcake's avatar

I’m sorry this was so upsetting to you, @lynneblundell. I have many triggers from family members too.

First of all, I would suggest that you try to detach who you are and how you view yourself from her comment. Even if she was talking about you… assume that she was not. You know that you are doing all the right things. Don’t let her take that from you.

Second, I would suggest that you find a way to matter-of-factly tell her that her comment was offensive and hurtful to you. Perhaps you can think of a firm but loving way to communicate the sentiment. There doesn’t need to be a fight, an argument, defenses drawn… just simply tell her “When you said… I felt… because my life situation is…”. Done.

Third, detach from her response. Let her tests be her tests, and your tests be yours. You don’t need to own her feelings or statements. You have done your part by bettering your life and letting her know how her comments affected you.

Fourth, do something nice for yourself. You’re a good, hardworking person. You’re a great mom. Go paint or write. Create something. Be inspired. Be proud of yourself. Look in the mirror and smile.

nebule's avatar

@trailsillustrated I appreciate that but one expects more of people that are supposed to be close to them do they not?

@Cupcake Thank you, truly x

BarnacleBill's avatar

I have to side with @chyna and think that she doesn’t realize that she means you when she says stuff like that. I would simply state how much you make and that when she said, of “course low income families get EVERYTHING paid for them…barstards!!” Did she really mean to insinuate that you had it easy, because you’d happily have it differently if you could.

lonelydragon's avatar

She probably wasn’t thinking about how her comment would affect you. Unfortunately, even family members can be inconsiderate. My sister regularly scorns me for my major, job, and class status. Some people just have a superiority complex. You can try to talk to her tomorrow, when you have calmed down, but make sure you’re strong enough to deal with a negative response in case she brushes you off. If these hurtful comments are the norm with her (and that seems to be the case, judging by your account), you are better off detaching from her. Even if she is your sister, you don’t need to have that kind of negativity in your life.

marinelife's avatar

Wow! It depends on whether you want to rock the boat. You can try talking to her by saying, “It hurt me when you said that about low-income families getting their bus fare paid for.”

Then just sit back and see how she responds. She might surprise you and say she wasn’t thinking when she said it. In which case, because of the wine, you should forgive her. It sounds like she is not really sensitive to your situation.

She is family, though, so you want to take it slowly about irritating her.

I went through a period of about a year when I refused to be with my family all in a group. They were too packy—likely to tear me down in a group.

So I saw them one on one, which was much more satisfactory.

Whatever you do, just hold onto your truth. You know how you feel. You know that you are right. Just quietly treasure that.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

You know what I would do? I would blog about it. Blog about how difficult it is to be a single mother. Blog about how difficult it is when people around you do not understand. This is good for therapy for you, too.

Then, after you have about 12 entries or so, send her a link. “Oh, Mabel…I have a blog….you should read it sometime.” Give her the link. Don’t put her down or anything…just talk about _your_experiences and how difficult it is for you, in this economy to raise children, etc etc.

It will make you feel better…you may help other single parents and also let her know what life is really, truly like.

Americans like to complain about people receiving “aid”...and yes, there are a lot of people who take advantage. However….

If your sister is complaining that you get free bus passes and some food stamps….check out what is going on in the UK (multiply the amount by 1.50 to get the US-UK (British) exchange rate. £300,000 is $460,000 US dollars, for example). This may get her to think again about complaining about the small amount you are getting to get back on your feet:





the100thmonkey's avatar

@DarlingRhadamanthus: do you think you could link to a less rabid newspaper?

mrrich724's avatar


Holy crap those articles got my pulse rising quickly! Horrible. It reminds me of a comment my “disabled” (drug addict/alcoholic) father made regarding how he “ONLY” has six hundred USD per month to live on! The problem is, that $600 is AFTER his rent is paid, his medical insurance is paid, his bus pass is paid . . . and all his bills including food stamps and utilities.

So he’s getting paid $600/month with no bills to drink and party . . . oh, and it’s a disability. BULLSHIT.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I wouldn’t consider such a person my best friend and I’d be hurt.

anartist's avatar

Bewildering. Your sister and her husband at $40,000 are no longer considered middle class [especially if they have children]. Forty-five a year for a single person is now considered middle class. Your sister is one of the struggling poor, and may well resent you because you are so poor you qualify for subsidies.

Whitsoxdude's avatar

I’m sure it wasn’t directed at you. Having those types of opinions hardly means she resents you, or anybody else with low income.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

@the100thmonkey….I don’t think of the Mail as particularly rabid. The truth isn’t pretty. Unfortunately, the articles are the facts. Most of the other newspapers (that are in the pocket of Brussels) won’t report this sort of activity.

@lynneblundell is in need of help. She is a single mother and she is trying to get on her feet. I admire her for that. I don’t mind if the taxes that I pay help single mothers/fathers and the sick and elderly or for education for children or even health care. It’s when I see people who absolutely bilk the system that it bothers me very much. One of my best friends works really hard. She is a single parent and receives a housing benefit, works at an office, too, all within the regulations that are set so she doesn’t lose her housing benefit which she desperately needs to survive. She has three children. She has used her benefits to help her while she has children at home, not to become dependent on the system. I don’t feel that when people are using the system (like these people obviously did) that lynne should be taken to task for simply getting by.

@anartist…It’s £40,000 (pounds UK). That is the equivalent of $62,000 US. However, because the cost of living is so high in the UK…it would be the equivalent of 40K.

Trillian's avatar

@lynneblundell That’s ugly. I don’t like ugly talk from people who are friends. I can have a diagreement with someone without ever getting ugly and making personal remarks. Her tone of voice coupled with what she said made that a personal remark.
One of the reasons I left my SO was because he talked ugly to me. Name calling, making shit up just because he was in a bad mood.
Now I don’t put up with it. I just erase people. If a non friend talks ugly to me, I may say something back or I may not bother to engage, but I don’t put up with talking ugly from friends. I just don’t talk to them anymore, or at least, I don’t engage beyond superficial social noise.
In fact I said those exact words to someone a couple months ago. She said hi like we were best pals after some very weird ugly talk. I said “Oh hello, social noise, social noise, excuse me.”
I won’t let it happen twice from the same person, but I may have an attitude about the whole thing.

nebule's avatar

Thanks guys, I still feel riled this morning and upset. I don’t think talking to her will do any good really. The fact is she may apologize but her opinions are and will still be there. Like I’ve said this isn’t the first time she has expressed disdain at low income families getting ‘handouts’ so it’s obviously an issue for her.

This morning it was announced on the news that lone parents are going to be one of the hardest hit through the cut backs in the UK, which adds fuel to my fire really. However, it only makes me more determined to educate myself out of the situation I’m in and get a professional job within the coming years. I have to go back to work next September anyway; as a lone parent you must go back to work once your child (or youngest child) goes to school).

I currently get my tuition fees for my degree paid for but then I have to find around £3,500 to do my postgraduate study, which will qualify me in my chosen profession. This will take another six years to achieve at least and I’m in for the long haul. Even once I qualify I’m only looking at earning £20,000—£24,000 on an initial wage but at least I’ll be on the ladder and off benefits. Furthermore I’ll be damn grateful for what I have and proud of myself for what I will achieved.

I really appreciate all your comments and advice. The incident has served to further enlighten me that relationships change and I don’t need this kind of negativity in my life. The only trouble is how to limit that as much as possible when they are family that live in the same village as you and own the nursery where your son goes to. I don’t know. I feel very disappointed with the lack of compassion some people have.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Lynne….Good for you! I am so proud of what you are doing!

Have you checked for adult learning monies ? For your postgraduate study? Check this out:

You may have already checked this….but if not, take a look. And above all, never, ever, ever be ashamed of where you are. Where you are is not who you are. Just keep your eyes on your goal and stay focused.

You can do it! :)

trailsillustrated's avatar

read what @Trillian said. that’s my answer too, as in I tell people like that to piss off, end of story.

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