Helping people who take advantage


#1

Hi, I was hoping for some honest Catholic input on a situation that continues to bother me. I have a brother in law who is a single father of one child. He currently lives with my sister in law (His sister). My husband and I have 4 children and little resources. My husband has been unemployed for quite some time and we struggle to make ends meet ourselves. We also have just one car. Although I do feel the need to help him with his daughter, he has come to just expect they we will drop his child off at school, (which is a different school then my children and drop off is the same time) pick her up (again pick up is at the same time, different school) and watch her until he gets home. My children have been late for school because of this on many occasions. Many times it has interfered with my families responsibilities and often even made me late for work. He signs her up for sports activities and just expects that my family will get her there. He has this sense of entitlement when he is in my home and doesn't respect the rules of our house. He is also a heavy drinker. This has become an ongoing argument between my husband and I. My husband believes we should help whenever he needs it, but the burden is more often carried by myself and my children. I feel as though it has come to a point where we are enabling him. My husband continues to point out that a good Catholic would continue to help. Is there ever a time when helping isn't the answer?


#2

Hello,

I'm sorry for your situation. It is great that you are helping as much as possible. It's too bad that this is causing problems for your family.

Unfortunately, b/c you mention he is a heavy drinker, there may be an issue with driving while intoxicated. Obviously I have no information, but my first question would be if a child is safe in a car with someone who drinks heavily. I don't know if he has a record for citations/arrests for this behavior. You may want to talk to a group like mothers against drunk driving to see what they advise. Whether or not he is driving drunk, they have probably heard stories like this. I have seen too many tragedies that didn't have to happen.

As far as the impact on your family, it sounds like things are tough. Unfortunately I don't have any good advice but I hope you and your husband can work it out. You may want to talk to a priest.

take care.


#3

Perhaps you can continue to help, but at a reduced level. You and husband could make a plan to cut out certain types of efforts, if not, this could escalate your own marital problems.

Try to identify the right amount of help, perhaps some tough love if drinking is the root of some of the problems.


#4

Actually enabling is directly against the definition of Catholic social justice. When we enable we do for others what they must learn to do for themselves and therefore take away from the human dignity of that person.


#5

I would say your situation is the time when helping isn’t the answer! You shouldn’t be expected to give what you don’t have. If your children are late for school and you’re late for work, that is a big problem. You can only give so much, and if you don’t have the resources to offer, you shouldn’t be expected to. If you do manage somehow to make it work (the drop-offs and pick-ups) then I would strongly state to your brother-in-law that after school activities are out of the question. If he wants his child to do sports after school, have him make the arrangements with other teammembers’ parents to get the child to and from the sporting activities. Call me crazy, but I think it’s too much to ask someone to be in two places at once.


#6

Note: The following is my opinion and I am very often wrong… That said …

… You are not helping him by enabling him to shun his responsibilities. He needs to learn that you have a life and responsibilities. Tell him you’re not going to be available for taxi service because you need to get your children to their events and you need to get to work. Tell him to make other arrangements. Give him a few days… Then cut him off. Help him? Yes… of course… Enable his drinking? You do him no good, in fact you do him tremendous harm by helping him shun his responsibilities.

Once again… just my opinion…

God bless


#7

[quote="FeelingFaithful, post:1, topic:243046"]
. My husband continues to point out that a good Catholic would continue to help. Is there ever a time when helping isn't the answer?

[/quote]

you need to point out to your husband that a good Catholic first tends to his marriage then his family and does not help others to the extent it injures his own family.

You and your husband first have to come to a mutual agreement on what help you will or will not give. If the help means YOU are doing the driving, service whatever, you set the terms. If your husband wants to do it, fine, but you just get yourself and your own children where you need to be. You have to agree yourselves first, you simply cannot allow this to become a bone of contention between you that threatens marital harmony. then it will be up to your husband to set the ground rules with his brother.

He will continue to manipulate and use people as long as you enable him. Enabling someone to avoid his own responsibilities is not help, but rather its opposite.


#8

Basically, I'd stop with the chaffeuring. I would simply not play the game. The car, the kids, and I would go to one school and then to work.

If DH wants to help, then he'll have to figure out a way to do that on his own.


#9

Thank you all for the much needed perspective.


#10

[quote="FeelingFaithful, post:1, topic:243046"]
Hi, I was hoping for some honest Catholic input on a situation that continues to bother me. I have a brother in law who is a single father of one child. He currently lives with my sister in law (His sister). My husband and I have 4 children and little resources. My husband has been unemployed for quite some time and we struggle to make ends meet ourselves. We also have just one car. Although I do feel the need to help him with his daughter, he has come to just expect they we will drop his child off at school, (which is a different school then my children and drop off is the same time) pick her up (again pick up is at the same time, different school) and watch her until he gets home. My children have been late for school because of this on many occasions. Many times it has interfered with my families responsibilities and often even made me late for work. He signs her up for sports activities and just expects that my family will get her there. He has this sense of entitlement when he is in my home and doesn't respect the rules of our house. He is also a heavy drinker. This has become an ongoing argument between my husband and I. My husband believes we should help whenever he needs it, but the burden is more often carried by myself and my children. I feel as though it has come to a point where we are enabling him. My husband continues to point out that a good Catholic would continue to help. Is there ever a time when helping isn't the answer?

[/quote]

I’m so sorry you such a troubled brother-in-law. I see two ways to approach your situation. The first is with the mindset that you’re enabling your brother-in-law. His behavior is inexcusable, that I get; however, this mindset leads to anger, bitterness, and resentment.

The second viewpoint, however, is to see yourselves as a lifesaver to his child. The fact that you make sure she gets taken to and picked up from school every day means the world to this girl. Her academic performance and social development are the direct result of your efforts. You are the reason she gets to participate in extracurricular activities like sports. It’s easy to simply sign kids up for activities, but it takes a lot more effort to make sure a child gets to practices and games. That she has a family who’s willing to go to these lengths for her is remarkable. Even if she can’t articulate it, she knows what you’re doing for her is extraordinary, and she won’t forget it.

Now, this isn’t to say that you have to sacrifice your marriage, your children’s lives or your job for this guy. If you’ve told him what time he needs to have his daughter at your house so your kids are at school and you’re at work on time and it still isn’t happening, you might enlist his sister’s help. Same with your house rules. If you have a two-beer limit, cut him off after the second without apology. As long as you and your husband, and to a certain extent his sister, are a united front, he might not appreciate or even like it, but he will respect what you’re doing.

For what it’s worth, I think you are an amazing woman to add the responsibility of another person’s child into your family. She will be a much more stable and happy person - now and in the future - because of you.


#11

karow- You are so right about the mind set. I am absolutely feeling resentful, which is making me in turn feel guilty. Thank you for putting a positive outlook there for me. I think my husband and I need to find a more balanced way to help. I'll begin praying for that :)


#12

[quote="FeelingFaithful, post:1, topic:243046"]
Hi, I was hoping for some honest Catholic input on a situation that continues to bother me. I have a brother in law who is a single father of one child. He currently lives with my sister in law (His sister). My husband and I have 4 children and little resources. My husband has been unemployed for quite some time and we struggle to make ends meet ourselves. We also have just one car. Although I do feel the need to help him with his daughter, he has come to just expect they we will drop his child off at school, (which is a different school then my children and drop off is the same time) pick her up (again pick up is at the same time, different school) and watch her until he gets home. My children have been late for school because of this on many occasions. Many times it has interfered with my families responsibilities and often even made me late for work. He signs her up for sports activities and just expects that my family will get her there. He has this sense of entitlement when he is in my home and doesn't respect the rules of our house. He is also a heavy drinker. This has become an ongoing argument between my husband and I. My husband believes we should help whenever he needs it, but the burden is more often carried by myself and my children. I feel as though it has come to a point where we are enabling him. My husband continues to point out that a good Catholic would continue to help. Is there ever a time when helping isn't the answer?

[/quote]

He lives with his sister and she is doing - what exactly? Allowing him to drink and take advantage of your help with his daughter? Someone needs to kick the bum out on his keister and take custody of his daughter!

Go to Al-Anon, it will help you sort out what is your responsibility and what is not. You can not change your BIL and your husband cannot either. But if your husband continues to enable his brother, tell him that HE needs to be the one to chaffeur his niece around.

This is not Catholic stuff, it's just ordinary enabling of alcoholism.


#13

TheRealJulianne - YES!

There's books also - Co-Dependent No More - Melanie Beatty

and lots of Al Anon literature is very helpful. You can look on the web for it. Stop the insanity!

signed,
A Grateful Friend of Lois W


#14

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