a little background info:
I was born to a young, unmarried, troubled mother. She ran around with the wrong people, got pregnant, did drugs, drank, etc. She did this even after I was born, and my sister was born 5 years later. In fact, she even left us alone (I was 5 at the time, and sis was 1) to go drinking at a bar. I woke up, got scared and called 911. Needless to say, we were taken away from her and lived with our grandma for a year before she regained custody.
But it didn’t stop there. She met a guy, who was extremely physically abusive. When she was working at night, he beat me severely and threw me down the stairs into a dark basement for hours. She knew this. She saw the bruises. She stayed with him for 10 more years. She even married him and had a baby with him. He continued to beat me for a couple more years and verbally abused me until I moved out at age 15.
My mother left my stepdad several times but always came back. Finally, when I was 15, I had had enough and moved out to live with my grandma. I stayed there for a year and then was “adopted” legally and emotionally by my aunt and uncle, whom I now refer to as my mom and dad. I didn’t keep in contact with my mother, who stayed with my stepdad and subjected my sister and brother to more physical and emotional abuse. I, in the meantime, graduated high school with honors, graduated college, got married, had 2 children, etc.
Now my sister is 18 and out of control. She has only known my mother and stepfather’s warped lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, fighting, etc. whereas I was able to see a “normal” marriage and a “normal family.” She is hanging out with druggies, having sex with her boyfriend, lying to her boyfriend, skipping school, failing classes, getting suspended for skipping school, and is planning to move out of my mother’s house (now that she is 18) and move in with either her druggie friend or her boyfriend (who is 21 and works at McDonalds)
What a mess! I had no idea that it was this bad. I don’t know what to do to help her. I feel like I should; I mean, I would have never made it without my aunt and uncle’s help. (BTW they do not want to take her in b/c they feel that she is making really worse choices and has no motivation like I did)
I talked to my husband about having my sister move down to Alabama and go to a community college here. She would have to get her own job, get her own apartment and go to school. We would not offer financial support, only emotional support. I think it is a good idea----if she truly sees this as a new start and changes. Keep in mind that we are 25 and 23, live in an apartment, have a 3 month old baby and my husband has a good job. My point is we are young…do you think this is taking on too much responsibility for a troubled teen?
My “dad” (uncle) says to stay out of it, to worry about my own life and devote my energy to my dd and dh. He says it is my mother’s responsibility to help her. I just don’t think she will. I also think my sister needs a new start, new people, new school.
What do you think? Please help----all advice welcome!
a little background info:
I just had to pause, and let you know that your story brought tears to my eyes. I’m so terribly sorry for your ordeal. Ugh. OMG, I just felt stomach pains reading about the abuse you went through at the hands of your mom’s husband. I have to mull it over a little, and I’ll stop back to give some advice. In the meanwhile, here is a big hug for you–you have grown up to be such a caring person–abuse sometimes can harden people, but you seem so kind and caring–and want to reach out to your sister. That is a beautiful testimony of faith in action, if I ever saw one.
I will return a little later to see if I can offer you some advice.
What a heartbreaking situation I think your idea of offering emotional support and offering for her to live near you in her own place is a great idea. I think she will not be interested (has to pay own rent, leave friends/boyfriend, etc. etc. etc.) but at least it gives her an opportunity. Now if you were offering to let her live with you, paying for her rent, etc. I think that would be asking to be walked over like a doormat for someone with her history. But your plan forces her to take responsibility for herself and gives the emotional support and good example she needs to start a good life for herself. Even if she doesn’t want to move close to you, you can still offer emotional support through phone calls, occaisional visits, and correspondence.
Nowhere in your post do you indicate that your sister has asked for your help or advice. Until she asks, don’t offer. You can keep the lines of communication open, but don’t criticize. When she wants something better than what she has, help her to get assistance from professional drug rehabilitation centers, vocational rehabilitation programs, personal psychological therapy, etc. It is probably not a good idea to move her into a new setting without some oversight by professionals.
Thank you! I am only here b/c of the kindness of my “mom” and “dad” and my grandma. I wouldn’t have had a chance except for them. I am so grateful for their second chance that I feel that my sister should have one also. I just wonder if I am the one who should take this on or not. The rest of my family is reluctant to get involved b/c they see her as a troubled teen who is bound and determined to get into trouble no matter what anyone does.
I know that I could have been that teen if someone hadn’t helped me, if God hadn’t given me grace and a wonderful family and husband to help me through it. I want her to have the same and I don’t think she can in that town, with those people.
BTW, I still have a lot of “hidden” issues b/c of my childhood that I seek counseling for. I am still mad at my mother for putting us through that and, what’s more, continuing to put my brother and sister through it even after I moved out. But I feel like I have made something out of myself and I know that God has truly guided me to be the person I am and make lemons into lemonade!
Thanks for your careful consideration…others who are reading this, PLEASE give me your advice. I am physically ill worrying about her!
True–but shouldn’t we reach out to those in need–especially our siblings?
She hasn’t asked for help, but she has hinted that “she should move down here,” kind of jokingly.
I know that it’s the control freak or codependent part of me that wants to “fix” everything for her. That’s why I’m asking if I’m overstepping boundaries that would be harmful for her or my family.
I would see if she’ll move in with you–with a time limit on it. An expiration date attached to it, if you will. Seeing that her life is in chaos, she won’t just snap out of it–and get a job, leave her bf, etc…so in other words, it will require a lot of patience for you to take her in. (and your husband) But, there’s no rule saying you MUST take her in–but maybe offer it to her, and see what she says. Tell her that you love her, and that living the life the way she is, will never lead anywhere positive. If anything–she could end up in jail if she continues to hang out with drug addicts, etc…so, maybe start there–see if there are any outreach programs that could assist her–and help her with counseling maybe. She will need lots of counseling to combat the inner demons living with your mother has caused. (counseling will never undo the damage–but it can repair some of it so she makes better choices for her own future) How sad a story–but I am keeping you all in my prayers.
ETA: I just realized that I didn’t mention that she lives in Illinois, so a move to Alabama would be a MAJOR change and she would only have us down here… (which I think is a good thing)
I moved to Missouri (4 hours away from parents) to go to college and it was tough, but I made it work b/c I was determined to get my degree. I just don’t know if she is that strong/determined or if she would waffle/go back to her old ways because changing is just too tough.
Thanks for all the replies so far. Keep 'em coming. This is a very sticky situation that I need to figure out (my family isn’t being very objective!)
I have a cousin who moved in with his brother. Granted, that cousin’s only issues was his lack of motivation to complete anything. However, my married cousin wrote up a contract for his brother and he and his wife to sign with all the rules and regulations for living with them. The term was that he must move out within a year, pay rent, work full time, and put money into savings. They would pay for the food, but he had to cover his own expenses in addition to the rent and savings. He was out within 9 months. Obviously you would have to talk this over and agree about this with your husband. I do understand the desire to help one’s own family pull themselves up from a messed up life.
Actually, we can’t have her physicallly move in with us—we don’t really have room. We have a newborn who needs her own room and we can’t afford a bigger apartment. Plus, we couldn’t/wouldn’t want the stress that would put on our marriage. So she would have to get her own apartment—roommate or not. I think that if she gets a job and applies for financial aid, this wouldn’t be a big deal if she was committed to it.
Listen to your uncle. Your heart is in the right place but you may be inviting trouble into your home which may cause a strain between you and your husband. Your little girl needs you now more than anyone.
Ok–that makes sense. Maybe just try to help her with finding financial aid, counseling, etc…you’re a great big sister!
joking hints are sometimes cries for help without trying to sound too desparate.
i agree with her own place and a job and everything like that.
if you can help your sister make a fresh start. give her guidance, maybe your counselor’s phone number and let her have dinner with you and your family a few times a week. let her see what a sane existence is like.
maybe she wanted to get away just like you did, but wasn’t strong enough to leave on her own. now that she is an “adult”, she can really start to grow and turn her life around.
You mentioned that you are seeing a counselor - maybe ask them if they have any suggestions on how you can help your sister?
You are in my prayers.
Also, my “dad” mentioned the military. The only thing is that I’m not sure that she would want to do it and of course you can’t force her into it.
Any ideas of resources for teenage intervention like a program or a counselor that helps teens get back on track (not rehab—as far as I know she’s not doing drugs)?
I’m so sorry you have gone through this!!! It must be very tough to deal with. In the short time I have been able to get to “know” you I’ve seen what a kind, caring person you are…
I would definitely make sure you talk this thoroughly with your husband. Your marriage and family take priority over your sister. It would be great if there was a way to help your sister without it having a negative effect on your family, but it would have to be something that was ok with your husband. Make sure he feels comfortable enough to express his feelings and ideas about this and to think this thoroughly. She can move wherever she wants, but if you guys are going to be involved as emotional support etc then he has to be on board. You are her sister and know more of what it is like to be in a situation like hers, so its easier for you to want to be involved, but he does not have the blood ties and it is different for him, but you know him better than anyone of us here.
Anyone? Programs for teens?
thanks lifeisbeautiful. I will definitely talk about this at length with him as I know that I do feel more strongly about it than he does. I don’t want him to just agree to make me feel better
It seems to me, if more Christians actually acted like Christians, the world would be a vastly different place.
You are offering to help someone in need, your sister, that is a very Christian thing to do. I am praying for both of you!