How do I love the unlovable?


I have a sibling who has grown to be a very selfish adult and who has hurt the family in many ways. I dont want to appear to pass judgement on her, though she has made foolish and bad choices that hurt alot of the family.
She has three children, that my mother raised since the last child was 6 months, My sister and her then husband worked a business in selling pets and supplies, the first 6 years working 6 1/2 days a week. My mother pushes her own children away, simply didnt have the time, and raises the grandchildren and it appears that mother puts them on a pedestal, and loved to tell who would listen “my daughter is a successful and wealthy business woman” all the while critisising her other daughters, for minor and petty things.
My sister turns out be a stressed out mother running a business, flying off the handle when the children want her time, and would often hit the youngest across the head and face when he became demanding of her time. She let him play by the side of the dam, put wood and burning material on a outside fire and grass mowing, both push mower and ride on mower all this at the tender age of 3 1/2, while she was inside the house.
The sudden riches and succcess go to their heads, parties, huge holidays for months at a time, without the children. My mother in her home looking after the kids, with no food supplies and mother does not drive.
The pressure of success eventually take its toll. My sister starts night clubbing on her own while she is married, and dresses very seductively. The marriage falls apart. She dissappears for 3 weeks without a word to anybody, not her husband, and not her 3 children. She was in Bali.
I saw the agony on her children’s and her husbands faces, and they are forever changed, my neice is forever asking when is mum coming back? She makes a shrine out of pictures, of her mum a beautiful queen, and pledging her love for her, 100’s of hearts and kisses. This is a cry for help. The youngest boy says if I say I love mum 1000 times, she might come home.
The business collapses, they wanted bigger and better and it didnt work. The shop folds.
She has a boyfriend, and can’t make up her mind who she wants to be with, husband or boyfriend and this going back and forward between the two has been going on now for 3 years. She gets pregnant by her boyfriend and at 20 weeks, chooses to terminate, for fear of the baby being sick, because she has been drinking excessively and taking anti depressant and that her husband would find out, she was pregnant by her boyfriend.
My sister and her children move in with mum, and she had 10 dogs and a cat. My mother cherishes her garden, but her garden is no longer with that many dogs trampling it. Sister does not respect mum and is simply not effected that the dogs have destroyed the garden. Her children have no respect for their grandmother either.
I am sorry for the long ended story, but what do I do as a catholic, when I see the way she hurts people I care about. I have forgiven, her for past anguish she creates, I put that behind me and try as hard as I can to make a connection with her at my mothers wishes. When I have connected to her, everything is all about her, anything I say that is not relative to her directly goes straight over her head. I didnt go visit her for two weeks, while my kids were on school holidays, I got busy with my lot, I have been verbally assaulted for not being there for her. She does not have to invest any thing in this sister relationship, she is so needy. To this day, she still makes bad choices and has not changed, yet my mother insists I have a close and warm sister thing going on with her. I can love her and take her as she is, but to form that close intimate relationship only really comes when their is respect and understanding. My mother is wanting the impossible.
Jesus was shamed and persecuted wrongfully, how did he suffer, without contempt for those who hated him? He didnt have bad feelings about his treatment.
How do I do the same?
Jesus kept his eye on the outcome, His Father
Is is fair to say, He knew he didnt have to wait so long to go home.
Please help me know how to pray for the same strength with my family. I want to be more like Jesus. But I can’t the way I feel.



I think you answered your own post at the very end. All we can do is continue to strive to be more like Jesus.Your sister is an adult and those are her choices. We can only make a decision to love others when we don’t feel it. Which I’m sure you know you don’t always feel like you love people. All you can do is continue to pray for her and you are not obligated to have a warm, fuzzy, close realtionship with her. Just because someone is blood related to us, does not mean we are automatically bonded to them. There is really nothing else you can do for her, especially if your mother continues to enable her. From your post, that is what it sounds like to me. Maybe your mother is feeling guilty about not raising her own children the way she should have, and is taking this opportunity to make herself feel better by nurturing these children, because it sounds like they don’t have a mother that is doing that. Whatever the case, it seems as if they both are acting out of selfish reasons. Just pray, pray, pray, and don’t feel guilty for not having a relationship with her. A relationship is something that takes 2, and this seems only one sided since she is off in her own little world.


One of our priests said in a homily, “We have to love everyone, but we don’t have to love them a LOT.”

So, if we have abusive relatives, we only have to make sure they have food and shelter. And heat in winter.

And that’s IT.

We don’t have to let them use us as a punching bag.

We don’t have to let them use us so they can have fun and amusement with us as they play head games with us. Or to use us as psychological dart boards… enjoying hunting us down and pushing all our buttons.

Food and shelter. Heat in winter. That’s it. I am not responsible to buy them designer clothes. Or hobby or craft materials. If they get sick, they can go to the clinic if they won’t pay for their own medical insurance. No expensive medical treatments for their cats and dogs you wouldn’t believe the stuff… ] I don’t buy them booze - and they drink better stuff than I do!!! .

And if they argue and behave badly, I can’t feel guilty because they refuse to behave decently.

If we have lotsa bucks, fine. If we have the bucks to hire people to provide other services, fine. If we have infinite patience and time to put up with head games, fine.

But they don’t have the right to extract our psyches through our nostrils.

The rest is all optional.

Do I sound harsh? Well, been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Some years ago, someone was giving me their sad tale of woe, no money, on and on, and I got to thinking that maybe I could help. My wife wouldn’t be happy and I had just started working after a protracted bout of unemployment, but we did have some savings. And then this person said, yeah, things were really rough, … that they had just paid a $900 medical bill for their CAT !!! WHAT !!! This person would suck me dry and then walk away without even blinking.

S-o-o-o-r-r-r-e-y !

It serves no one if we allow ourselves to allow them to destroy us.


In your post you prayed to be like Jesus. Well we will never be perfect as He is perfect but we can imitate Him.
First know that everyone, that is everyone without exception, is loveable because they are not only good but very good and God loves them. As He is smarter than us why do we not just imitate Him?
Second separate what people do from who they are. People are good, what they do may not always be so good. You are free to hate the sin, but love the sinner and pray for them because they suffer more than their victims. Especially if they do not repent and confess before death. Their Heaven, otherwise known as their greatest happiness may be here on Earth. Pray that this might not be so.
**Third ** know that every moment of everyone’s life is a gift of love from a God of Love. Even those children who suffer so much now, just might be martyrs in Heaven. Pray for them.
**Fourth ** know that everyone, including your sister, has a gift in her equal to the greatest gift given to the greatest saint. Pray that she gives God permission to develop that gift that she might reach her Heavenly reward and that the rest of creation might benefit from her gifts.
Fifth Judge not lest ye be judged. Love, love, love and pray, pray, pray. We would not have recognized the saintliness of Saint Paul in the misplaced enthusiasm of Saul, his former self.


Your children and family you have now have to come first. They need the loving home and affection that they deserve. Your mum and sis are further down the list.

Does the husband know about the aborted baby? He should. He might be able to provide a better home for the children.

Offer emotional support to your mother, but try to not get too involved, since she is already blinded by your sister and you will never be able to change her mind.

As long as your niece/nephew aren’t too wild, have them over for sleepovers. Reinforce positive family relationships.

Report any signs of child abuse.



I think that you need to gently explain to your poor mother, that due to the fact that your sister is leading such a damaging lifestlye and is unable to form a healthy relationship with you, that you are not able to “fix” her by being a good sister. That you’ve tried, but this has only caused you pain and frustration because your sister is using you, like she does with other significant people in her life. Your mother is being unfair to expect you to maintain a relationship with your sister as if you two are best friends. It’s dishonest. You have to help your mother undestand that while your sister is toxic, you cannot be around her for very long without being pulled down yourself.

Your sister is living in tremendous confusion and sin. You can’t rescue or save her, she’s in so deep. I believe that the best approach is to put some distance between the two of you in order for you to carry on for the sake of your own family. That is not an unChristian thing to do. Do maintain any connection you can with your nieces and nephews. Pray for them.


Hi, Shae. I am so very sorry you and your mother have been through so much. Jesus must love you very much to have given you such a cross to bear. I am reminded of the words of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta. She once said, “I know that Our Lord will never give us more than we can handle. I sometimes wish He did not think so highly of me!”.

I use a technique to help me deal with difficult situations I call my ‘Jesus Box’. I take an old shoe box, cut a hole in the top, and put it back on top of the box. Then I take a note book and I start writing, much like you did with your post to all of us. I do not worry about spelling, grammar, syntax or how it looks, or how it sounds. I just spill my guts. Maybe something like this:
How am I supposed to love this selfish, selfcentered sister when she always gets her way and mom always sticks up for her? and whats with all the dogs? can’t anyone else see what’s going on with her? she’s a mess! she cares only about herself! No one else matters and I am tired of always listening to her whine whine whine. Mom wants us to be close, how am I supposed to be close to this mountain of selfishness anyway? I am trying so hard to be a good Catholic Woman and quite frankly I’d like to just pop her one right in the nose how’s THAT for good Catholic Woman? Oh sweet JESUS what am I going to do if I have to go over there and see all those stupid dogs trampling the beautiful garden one more time I am going scream…

anyway, when you are all done writing, you put the paper in front of you , get on your knees and pray…maybe a prayer like this:

Dear Jesus - here it is. It’s what I am feeling and thinking and I know it isn’t pretty and it isn’t kind but here it is. It is the truth. I don’t know what to do, Lord. I can’t seem to change it. I want to be like you, I want to love my sister but this is how I really feel. Please, Lord, take all of this and help me to do the next right thing just for today. Thank you, Jesus.

Then put the paper in the Jesus Box and walk away.

If you have to write it several times a day, so be it.

Jesus told St. Faustina that the biggest mistake you and I make is we don’t TRUST him enough. We don’t go to Him with ALL of ourselves, the good and the bad…our weaknesses and our strengths. I have learned, through the years, that reliance upon Jesus means I have to be able to admit to Him when I am unable to do what I really know I should do, and I really know I should WANT to do…and ask HIM to take all those feelings of anger, resentment, fear and sadness I harbor inside and give me the grace to just do the next right thing - just one day at a time.

I hope this helps you, my sister in Christ. You are in my prayers.


It is helpful to remember that in Greek, there are four words of love:

- erotic love; - sympathetic love; - the love of friendship, and - the self-giving love to which Christians are called. has nothing, repeat, nothing, to do with feelings. To “love” () one’s enemies has nothing to do with feeling warm and fuzzy about them, any more than it has to do with pretending they are one’s friends, for example. Jesus himself “loved” the young man who would follow him, and in contemporary psychobabble terms utterly shattered his self esteem when, knowing the man was possessed by his possessions, rather than the other way around, he told him to go sell all his possessions. That’s . So was the death of Jesus on the cross.

I would pray that two of the other three loves would come to grow in your relationship with your sister, but if they do not, and you continue the Christian duty of , no more can be asked of you. And never underestimate the power of !




My sister turns out be a stressed out mother running a business, flying off the handle when the children want her time, and would often hit the youngest across the head and face when he became demanding of her time. e.

If your sister is still hitting the youngest across the head and face then you might have to call the authorities. Has she ever left any bruises or welts?


Be careful of your relationship with your mother as well. She is trying to use you, and is enabling your sis, and is being sucked into her life. Guard your emotions from both.


Shae –

Boy, can I relate! I have a brother who has been mistreating my parents his entire life. He was always the one in trouble; always the one they bailed out. I think they were trying to do what was best, but always ended up not making him responsible for his own actions, and he continues this pattern today at 48 years old.

On top of that, he is divorced and now remarried to an extreme alcohol and drug addict and he is using again as well. They both treated the family like trash until we intervened and called them on it. It was difficult, but my sister and I have told them they need help and that we will have nothing to do with them until they sincerely seek professional help to deal with all their problems. So, we are now estranged. My other brother walks the line; hasn’t confronted him but doesn’t have much to do with him either. My parents are elderly and just don’t want the hassle. They see him for who he is now much better than before and don’t enable him much anymore.

He is not involved in his children’s lives at all (3), two of them have been in trouble with drinking under age and another one with stealing. His ex-wife is really trying hard with the kids, but when they see Dad doing things he shouldn’t, it makes it really hard.

When I get really angry at him (mostly for how he treats or neglects my parents), I remember that he is ill – physically, emotionally and spiritually. It doesn’t excuse him, but it helps me to see that he needs help, even though he won’t admit it. You can’t treat he and his wife in any kind of normal way because that just doesn’t work. Sounds like it’s the same with your sister and Mom.

So, I pray for him and his wife a lot. I feel sorry for them because they do not know true love; the love of a true friend, a loving spouse or the love of Our Lord. I pray that whatever needs to happen in his life to make him wake up will happen. I often think of them in a deep, dark hole with no escape (except through Jesus, of course).

When they lash out, I know it’s because they are hurting themselves. When they neglect my parents, I know in part it’s because they are ashamed of who they have become and don’t want to see them.

Sometimes when we can see the hurt in them that causes them to act as they do, it helps us to be more compassionate.

It has been a long road for my parents to see my brother and his wife as they are. It sounds as though your mom may have many issues herself she is dealing with. It’s very easy for people to fall into the blame game instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.

As others have indicated, my biggest concern would be for the children and their safety. Pray that the Lord will lead you to do what is right for them, despite how others in the family may feel about it.

You are in my prayers!


I really do value the opinions of every response to this thread. I now have something I can fall on. I particularly like the idea of the "Jesus letter"
I have some issues with blame that are distorted, because of the way I grew up.
So as my sister’s behaviour not to stick out like a sore thumb, my mother would find things in me to criticise. I’m a lousy gardener. My hair looks crappy today.You are too protective of your children.
She is a very negative lady and coming away from a visit with her leaves me with a heavy heart.
I am never enough for my mother, even as an adult.
I am a loving parent, wife, catholic, child of God
Mother has double standards when it comes to us siblings.
I dont always trust my inner dialogue, its sad.
So I really needed your help with this thread and again I thank you.



I can’t give you advice, but I can promise my prayers! :gopray:

God love you,



DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit