Should we interfere?


I’m really having a hard time with something going on with my sister. I will say that I’m almost 5 months pregnant and want to make sure I’m not just overreacting b/c of hormones :slight_smile:

My older sister (she’s now 39) married and had children young. She has two boys, a 13-yr-old and a 17-yr-old). The older son has been in a bit hard to handle for some years now and there have never been problems with the younger son.

She hasn’t had a job in problably 15 years. She said she can’t work due to the fact that she’s always being called to the older son’s school for different problems. That being said, because her husband is the only one working, her only job is to get these kids raised and educated (not saying that’s not a hard job, but that’s the goal).

A couple of years ago (when the older son was a freshman in high school), she took both boys out of school and chose to home school. The older son was smoking pot behind the school and was to be expelled. The younger son was on honor roll.

The problem is that my sister’s home is not really the best learning environment. Nobody judges her for living in a trailer, but you can’t find a pen or a piece of paper, there are roaches crawling all over the place, the laundry is never done, the place looks like a bomb went off all the time and she’s got these big pit bulls running around all over the place. Oh - and it seems that she just wants to be on the phone or watching TV all day. When she’s not doing that, she’s always YELLING!

She homeschooled (successfully, I might add) for a year. Both boys got their credits and scored high on the standardized tests (they are both intelligent). It got to the point where she couldn’t really do the homeschooling anymore and put the boys back into school. The older son failed out of tenth grade. The younger son did fine. I found out within the last six months that the older son failed out of the tenth grade for the SECOND time and decided not to go back. Of course, I told her he MUST get his GED, but not sure how that went. Last month, my sister asked me for $500 which I gave her (she said she didn’t realize that she "messed up her checkbook). Then, the next month she was bouncing checks again. She got her statement and found out that $600+ was taken over the month from a debit card. I told her it must be her older son. He must have the card and the pin. She would not believe me. Anyway, after a bit, he confessed. He was thrown out, then they had him back again after two weeks (obviously his plan of getting a job didn’t work and the job he had for one week wouldn’t take him back after they fired him for never showing up).

The older son has been on this path a long time, but my sister always refuses to give discipline, etc… When she found out he was being expelled again, she let him go out since it was a stressful day.

I told her that he is almost 18 and better be sure her second son is doing alright with all of the drama.

I found out yesterday that her second son has failed out of the seventh grade and will repeat. She claims she didn’t get a report card, so she didn’t know (this is a typical answer - she’s always the victim of a conspiracy).

My older brother wants to see if she’ll let him live in our town and go to school here (three hours away). I say she will NEVER do such a thing and it will cause more problems if we suggest it. She claims that she’s going to focus on the second child, but (of course, not being a parent myself) her only job was to get the kids through school and NEITHER one made it to the next grade.

I could use some opinions.


I am of the opinion that if you give your opinions to your sister, the ball is in her court. Voice your concerns, pray and see what happens. They have to want to change. There is only so much you can you can do.


That’s a bit in line how I feel. We can support her financially as much as we can (she’s not bought her last 5 cars - though used), and give her advice (and also listen), but I think she will be angry and insulted if my brother suggests having her last son live here.

I guess I see his side too - he sees how the first worked out and he feels that intervention is necessary to save the second child from a similar fate. She doesn’t seem to care about the living conditions and hasn’t lifted a finger to follow-up on their education.


To me things seem a bit backwards. I would NOT be “supporting” her financially and I WOULD be asking her if having her younger son move my way would be an option she’d consider.

Your sister is a grown woman who has made her choices and is dealing with the consequences (or should be…hence the no financial support stance). The boys are minors. Even the older one still needs some stability and support in his life if he is expected to learn how to be a responsible member of society. **


If you are open to raising the boys, that’s great. I would cut off the financial support either way. It’s enabling her to live the same lifestyle she’s been living. Some people don’t change until they have to. Perhaps find out what her husband feels about the debit card theft, the stay-at-home-and-do-nothing approach, and if he would be receptive to letting you help out with the kids. Kudos to you for caring.


Good point on both accounts. I have to say that it’s been hard. I always get a panic phone call at the last minute about them losing the land or my b-i-l will lose his job b/c the last car we gave them broke down, etc… I will say that I refused to give money to her when her son took it. I told her to either press charges or have him get a job and pay her back.

I know that her husband is furious and wanted to press charges, but my sister wouldn’t let him. The older son is back at the home and my b-i-l drags him out of bed at 5:30 am to go walk around the town to get a job. A little late, I think for the hard line.

If my brother decides he can take the boy(s) on, I will help him somehow, but on the other hand, I am not personally offering the same. I didn’t know I was pregnant until this past week and we are 4 1/2 months along already with our first baby. My husband refuses to take in my sister’s kids while she sits on her bottom jobless since she’s obviously not taking the time to raise her children.


I wouldn’t expect you to do that and I don’t think anyone else implied that… but your brother is already offering and that’s what you asked about. If you could support your brother then these boys might have a chance. So what if your sister gets “angry and insulted”?..she’ll get over it. Right now it’s about giving those boys the best chance you can (which in this case means supporting your brother in whatever way you are able).**
And congrats on your little one by the way!!! Your pregnancy should just fly by since you only found out almost halfway through!!!**


Sorry about that - I wasn’t really clear :slight_smile: I meant that I wasn’t personally offering in regards to “If you are open to raising the boys” though if my brother goes and asks, I will help with all I can. Since I don’t have children myself, I feel no qualifications at all to step in, where my brother and his wife have two children.

We had a not-so-great childhood (no need to go into the bad details), so I just see my sister repeating some of the same things (though these kids have it a little better than we did). I thank God that we had nuns in our lives where our sister’s children do not (not sure she’s ever brought them to the Catholic church, even though I’ve encouraged her).

Thanks for the congrats! It’s truly a blessing to have married later than some and to just kind of let nature take it’s course. We weren’t necesarily trying - just left it in the hands of nature and God and here we are!

Well, I guess I’ll let my brother do as his heart feels and if she and her husband do look at it like a learning opportunity (sort of boarding school), then I’m in. My brother and I are both college professors, so education would be supported 100%!!!

We even offered that we would make sure that if they went to college, we would make it work for them. Hopefully it’s not too late.


You have a lot to deal with. If I were in your shoes I’d ask her to send the older boy to a youth shelter, into the foster-care system or even military school – somewhere where he will have to grow up. He is a young man. I’d offer to take the younger son for weekends. It would be a lot to take on to do more than that. Supporting her financially might not help in the long run. I kind of wish my family had just cut me off when I was a delinquent. Maybe I would have gotten much more organized about developing job skills. Maybe not, though. Maybe I’d have joined a gang or something and be dead now. But if they’d cut me off in my early adult years I’d probably have done better things than I did. If they’d walked me through job training programs when I was 13 and helped me into Job Corps or something for my 16th birthday I know I’d probably be way better experienced by now. A lot of trouble I got into wouldn’t have happened. Sometimes helping someone through a hard time means lifting her by one hand and pushing her by the other.


Go raibh maith agat (for such insightful comments). I’ve begged my sister to get him into a disciplined place. Actually, without a GED, I’m not sure the military would take him. And when she stopped letting him take the bus (and drove him to school), he’s sneak out of school and smoke pot somewhere. Seems he needs a boarding type of place. My brother and I talked to him directly several times and offered the last two summers for him to move here so that he could come to the beach for the summer and work. He’ll be 18 in about 6 weeks, so not sure if she can actually send him anywhere at this point :frowning:

It’s a great idea about the younger one. The round trip is long - six hours, so every weekend wouldn’t work (and she would never volunteer). We are getting him up here for about a week in August, but I wonder if if would do him some good to come for two weeks. Maybe he can come up more often during the school year and bring his homework.

We’ve always had the boys here several times year so that they can compare their way of life with the way it could be (worked for us when we were kids), but nothing has seemed to put the lightbulb over their heads.

It’s soooo frustrating :frowning: All of your suggestions are great - I’m going to talk to my brother when he returns from out of town. At this point, the money will not flow as easily as we have lots of planning to do for our new baby before he/she gets here. Heck… maybe all of this will force her to get a job too!


Thanks for your input, everyone. I talked to my brother today. He and his wife had a long conversation. After the boy(s) come here for a week, when getting dropped off, my brother is going to have a talk with my sister and focus on the educational benefits instead attacking her parenting (the schools are better here).

He thinks it will be good for our nephew to see that in some houses, you go to school, have play time, and actually do homework. Also, my newphew, like the rest of the family, will need to get up on Sundays and experience going to church (which will be a shock).

I pray that my sister lets him stay up here and I promised to do what I can before and after the baby is due.

Hopefully good things will come.


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