Make us your home page

Sister's faulty judgment puts her two children at risk

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Sister's faulty judgment puts her two children at risk

San Francisco: Two months ago, my sister, a single, working mom, begged me to move in with her to help offset the cost of her condo and so she could have easy access to my baby sitting services. I did, and it's been a challenging, but fun, two months.

Now my sister has a new boyfriend who is in need of a place to live and whom she insists will be around long term (I've met the guy, he won't be). She wants me to move out ASAP so he can move in. This after I was there for her in a trying period and have spent the past two months basically co-parenting two kids who aren't mine.

I'm so furious I can barely see straight, but others have reasoned that I should forgive her because she's just blissfully in love. What do you think?

Carolyn: I think you have a right to be furious.

However, I think you also have a duty — to your sister, but mostly to those two kids — to present a cool-headed obstacle to her apparently impulsive and short-sighted decision.

Ask her, please, to think about the predicament that led her to beg you to move in just two months ago. Then pose the situation to her as maybe not ideal, but inarguably stable. You help with the money, you help with the kids, you aren't going to break up with her, you aren't going to resent the kids for interfering in your relationship — whatever else even the best of new boyfriends might bring.

Obviously, you don't see him as the best of new boyfriends. The fact that he's poised to take a handout from an overburdened single mom suggests you're probably right. The bigger and more certain obstacle, though, is your sister's faulty judgment. Unless she learns to slow down and think beyond her immediate emotional needs, the underlying problem remains no matter what the outcome is here.

Unfortunately, you have little control over that outcome, short-term or long-. You can't stop her from moving the guy in. But you can use the burdensome logistics of moving in your favor — if she dismisses your argument for staying, then let her know you need at least 30 days to move out. Normally I'd say make your pitch and butt out, but you want to keep your eye on this.

Anonymous: Re: San Francisco: Refrain from sharing your opinion about the new boyfriend's longevity in her life, too — that will just send the conversation in the wrong direction. The point is, it's a lot of upheaval for the kids, and if he's a keeper, there's no need to rush.

Carolyn: There's also the fact that if he's someone she can count on, then he can count on himself and resolve his own housing problem.

But this possibility trumps all:

Move Out & Take Those Kids With You: Predators often look for single moms, and abusers push for early commitment. This sister sounds ripe for the picking for either, or both. Super nice guys who are just down on their luck have friends/family/etc. to whom they can turn. How many deadbeats will these kids have to tolerate before they hit 18?

Carolyn: None, if Mom puts the kids first. Thanks.

Sister's faulty judgment puts her two children at risk 03/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, March 8, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours