11 answers

My Sister in Law Is a Terrible Mother, and They All Live in MY House

I'm addicted to your feedback! I just asked my 1st question yesterday, but I'm loving your responses so I'm going for another.

My Sister In Law and her two kids, my nephews, moved in recently with my husband and our two year old daughter. She is in a very bad situation and has no one else to turn to. She's a single mom of two boys, 1.5 & 9 yrs old. She's waiting on public housing, and since I live in an area (Cape Cod) where subsidized housing is VERY limited, it's going to take a while. We were told initially 3-6 months, but now it looks like it's going to be years.

Anyway, both boys are brats. The 9 yr old doesn't listen to anyone (maybe because of ADHD which my SIL just ignores), but the 1.5 yr old - I don't know where to start. She shares a bed with both boys since we had such limited space, only 1 BR for all of them. The baby wakes up all night, every couple of hours, and won't go back to bed until she gives him juice. In the middle of the night! In the car, he continually throws his binky and then screams until he gets it back, which she will do again and again. He destroys the house at dinner by throwing his food around and barely eats it. He SCREAMS & CRIES every time he doesn't get his way... I hate to say my husband and I are afraid to be in public with them as it's embarrassing with all of the carrying on. Sometimes it seems like she listens to our advice (don't give him the binky back after throwing it... he'll learn NOT to throw it!!) But much of the time she doesn't say anything and leaves it to me and my husband to discipline her kids. And she lets us, it doesn't bother her at all. But we feel like we shouldn't HAVE to, as we've got our own daughter to focus on.

So because of all this, my house is tense. My husband and I are constantly reprimanding someone, and feel as though this will have an effect on my daughter, who is such a sweetheart. We want to have another baby now, but are waiting because I refuse to have an infant surrounded by such chaos. I want to give her a deadline, but I know when it comes down to it if she needs to leave, she'll be homeless. We don't WANT to do that.

In the meantime we're watching her screw up her kids, at my house! Any suggestions?

What can I do next?

More Answers

Dear K.;

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Your sister-in-law is in your life for a reason. How is her overall attitude towards life? Does she have a job? What happened to her that she has to wait Public Housing? What happen to the kids that they are acting out so much? It sounds as though she and the kids have been badly abused on an emotional or physical level, or maybe both. Children are very sensitive to their parent's energy/emotions..

Is your sister-in-law receiving any counseling? How about the kids?(Especially the kids).. Those babies are screaming for attention.. Have you and your husband spent time with the kids alone? How do they act? They don't trust people right now, and you and your husband have to give them a reason to trust again..

It sounds as though everybody in your household needs guidance..You and your husband need to outsource help for your sister-in-law and her kids. You can't do it on your own..Just the fact that your SIL is allowing you to correct her children says alot.. She really needs help on many levels.. She might be suffering from severe depression, and might not be able to function on a level where she is being truly beneficial to herself and her children..

While she is living with you, as a family, you should be supporting one another. Encourage her to go to counseling, back to school, and help her feel better about herself. She might see the relationship that you and your husband have, and ponder why she doesn't have a relationship like that.. That could be depressing enough..

If she receives the tools to help her get back on her feet, you might see a grand transformation,which would be great for her and her kids. Maybe she won't have to utilize public housing.. Maybe when you and your husband need a babysitter, so you can go out on your weekly date, you will have a great person to rely on..

In this lifetime, we are here to become better people/spirits, and we are here to help others, but only if they allow us.. If your SIL does not want your help, and you feel she is an unfit mother, you and your husband might have to make decisions that will benefit your nephews.. Remember, at the end of the day, they did not choose this lifestyle, and they are truly victims of this circumstance..

You are in my prayers my friend.. Especially your nephews..

2 moms found this helpful

Well, first I would say BIG (((HUGS))) to you and your DH for taking SIL in! You are doing an amazing thing here. Even though it is complete chaos, you are doing what is right. I don't think I could put them out on the street or ask them to go stay in a shelter-they are family. You are ALL in a high stress situation! Firstly, I would put myself in SIL's shoes and think about how she must be feeling after all of this. Sad, depressed, angry, embarassed...I think you all need to sit down and talk about things now that it looks like this may be a long stay. Set up some ground rules for the kids, but ask her how she would like to deal with the discipline. She may be deferring to you because it is your house. I think that all 3 of you should enforce the rules together. If possible, talk to her about the older boy, and see what kind of treatment he needs, and get it done. ADHD in boys is tough. You are going to need every bit of sanity you have to deal with it. The 1.5 YO is going through a phase-my son was the same. Boys are hard to deal with sometimes:) You are right with the throwing pacifier thing, but as for the juice at night-maybe SIL is just giving in because she thinks it will quiet him down faster, so not to disturb everyone for too long (obviously it is backfiring!). The sleeping arrangement is tough-it is hard for a toddler to fall asleep and stay asleep when they are sharing a bed-he's got 2 other people tossing and turning all night in there with him. Is there any way for one of the boys to bunk in your daughter's room?
Does SIL work, or can she not have a job in order to qualify for public housing? Maybe she can get a job waiting tables or something?
Anyways, just hang in there! I really think that you all have to come together and parent all the kids as a family, and take the time to make sure you all get to catch your breath! Just remember to take a good look at things and treat SIL and kids how you would like to be treated if the situation were reversed. Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful

She has GOT TO GO!!! You cannot jeopardize the well-being of your own family to help someone else. I have been in a similar situation before and it nearly drove me crazy!

The thing about people in desperate situations is when they are left with no options, they usually find a way to manage. Check out family shelters in the area. They usually are not as bad as you would think. Also, if she's in a more desperate situation, the case workers at the shelter can help her get housing much faster.

Don't feel guilty. You didn't put her in that situation, she did it to herself...

1 mom found this helpful

The bottom line is, your house, your rules. Sit down with your sister in law, and have the three of you (you, your husband, and his sister) talk things out. Explain to her that you will not tolerate this behavior from her children, and that it is HER responsibility to disiplin her boys. These are not your children,and frankly, they are not your problem. You are trying to help her out, and she needs to respect you and your husband. Make sure you get her to understand that by allowing this behavior with her kids, and ignoring a behavioral issue with ehr oldest, she is DISRESPECTING YOU, YOUR HUSBAND, YOUR CHILD AND YOUR HOUSE. Tell her that you love her, and you would like to help, but as it is rihgt now, this is not a good situation for your family, and it is not working for you. Give her a time period to change things, and if it isn't done by then, then she needs to leave. I am sure Cape Codd, or surronding areas, has shelters she can stay at if need be. Also, can't she look for public housing outside of Cape Codd? Why does it have to be there? Maybe she can try to find a roomate, or whatever. Is there any way she could borrow money from someone to get a small place fo rher and her children until she can get the subsidized housing? There are no other relatives she could stay with? I am sure if she were to look into public assistance, something could happen for her. Does seh have a job? Some shelters help the women get work. Regardless, she needs to be told what the rules and guidelines are, and sit the older boy down and discuss it wiht him after you are through explaining things to the mother. Tell him that you will not tolerate what his mother tolerates, and that he will behave, or their will be reprocussions. He is old enough to be punished, and to be responsible for his actions. Also, try to see about counceling for him. Maybe part of the problem is anger about his situation. If his doctors have said he needs to be medicated, then point this out to your sister in law and tell her it has to happen, or she needs to find another place to stay. I know it is hard to be like that with family, but your immediate family is more important. Keep in mind, yo0u have a child you need to worry about, and you are putting your life on hold due to your Sister in law's disrespectful children adn behavior. You already said you and your husband postponed having another child due to not wanting to bring a baby around this situation. Taht is completely unfair to you. Tell your sister in law this, and make her understand what a problem things are for you. Brutal honesty is the best way to go with this. Also keep in mind, things may be alright now, but if this situation keeps up, your marriage iwll wind up suffering, due to the stress and resentfulness.

Talk about it with your husband, and plan a nice sit down. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hmmm.... is the SIL working? I'll bet that if you encouraged her to WORK while you watched these awful bratty boys, that within a months' time, you would have well -behaved boys (at least in front of YOU) and that should make living together more bearable, plus perhaps SIL can contribute for the household expenses. If she cant, she is saving up - even public housing isnt free. There are many of us single moms out there, and we arent all getting a free ride with relatives. Encourage and help her get on her feet and out the door! Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K. my name is M.. I was reading what you wrote and I think that a third person (and even more I'm sure cause all the mother's here are very caring and can offer wonderful advice!) point of veiw might help you.
The plain and simple fact of the entire situation is thatyour SIL is completely taking advantage of the situation you are now finding yourself in. I'm a young (used to be single)mother of two and for the first 2 years of my oldest daughter's life, and the first 9 months of my other daughter's life I had to live with my parent's till my fiance and I could get our own place. And I'll tell you...most of the time they wouldn't even know we were in the house. I was either in our bedroom with my kids, or I had them outside. And Imade sure to clean up EVERYTHING my children or I made a mess of.I mean that's just common RESPECT...which I hope you don't take this to offence...but it sounds like your SIL has none.
And not only that but they are HER children...not your's! It should not be your job to take care of them in any matter at all! You already have one daughter who you obvisouly adore and want to have another...it just is not right what she is doing!
My advice to you and your husband is, even though it will be extremely hard I know, but I think you should make a list...of EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that is bothering you, and make your SIL sit down and listen to everything you have to say. And tell her if these things do not change that she is going to have to find another place to live! And make sure she knows that you are not joking! There is no reason yourlife should have to be put on hold in YOUR own house! I wish you luck and if you ever want to chat feel free to email me at ____@____.com.

1 mom found this helpful

You really need to set a deadline and know she is going to have to do something temporary until the other housing comes through, check with the social service agencies and help her plan to get out. It would be one thing if she was staying there and being responsible for her kids. But she is leaving her parenting duties to you. You may be able to help her for a month, but it sounds like it is already disrupting your family life and putting a strain on your marriage. Does she have a job? She sounds like the type of person that will stay as long as you let her.... so you may have to walk her through each step of moving out, and keep her on schedule. Don't feel guilty for preserving your family life....

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.-
I am so sorry you and your family have to deal with this. If it were me, I really would be concerned about my child surrounded by this behavior. The only thing I can suggest is for maybe your husband (& yourself if you are up for it) to sit down with your SIL- have a heart to heart & discuss what has been happening. There has got to be a change so your household is not disrupted like this. Maybe there is some other place to turn as far as their housing is concerned. Are there any other relatives she could stay with? Specifically any without young children who would be affected by this? Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

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