Upset by Sisters Parenting

Updated on February 15, 2016
J.D. asks from Saranac, NY
15 answers

I have a sister who is a year older than myself, whom i love very much. She has been in an out of relationships for the past 7 years. My sister has recently become single again and has decided that she would rather be out to the bars and sleeping around than actually being a parent to her 5 year old daughter. I confronted her on the phone about the situation and she told me she is sick of people bugging her about her parenting and that she is single and can do it if she wants and its none of my business. The problem i have with this is that my niece is being juggled from one friends house to the other. She never knows where she is going to be on a daily basis and my sister says its ok and my niece doesn't mind. I just wish there was something I could do to wake her up and see that she is not doing the right thing for her daughter. She only spends about 4 hours a week with her daughter and i feel its not right. Any suggestions would be helpful. I really just needed a safe place to vent too. Thanks

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So What Happened?

Thank you so much for all the wonderful responses. At first I thought I was the only one ever to go through this, it is so sad to find out that I am not. I do not understand others priorities over their children, but I need to try to come to grips with it. My boyfriend and I are trying to buy a house at the moment and if we get the house we may ask for my niece to live with us for an while. It is hard right now because we live an hour away, so I really worry about my niece because I am not there. I don't really worry about my sister though because she chooses her life to be this way. Thank you so much for all of your encouragement, I am going to try to be there for my niece any way I can.

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answers from Scranton on

Well, it is her life, but it's sad watching someone wreck theres with alchohol. It sounds like she may be an alchoholic. There isn't too much you can do, she has to want to quit. You could give her some pamplets, and other information. She may get offended though. The more you bug her, the more she will want to do what she wants, I guess. Maybe she doesn't realize what her problem is though, so if you give her the info, she may realize she has a problem. If she isn't a danger to her daughter, there really isn't anything else you could do. If she is, then you could sue her for custody.

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answers from Albany on


I couldn't help but respond to this email as I am a 36 yr old mother and I am the product of a Mom that used to have the same priorities. I TOO WISH your sister would see the error of her ways however, most times people won't. There are so many factors that come into play. I now am facing the reprocusions of those times. I always thought that when I got older, my life would be different because I would make it that way.........but newsflash........the issues follow you and you have to face them and deal with them in your adulthood. The first thing I want to tell you is, you will NEVER get your sister to see your side. She is on her own path, and will only get angry with you in her mind saying............yeah sure you have the perfect, guy, the perfect home and the perfect life........the entire time thinking how horrible and difficult her life is...and in her head saying you just don't understand. so to save you some hassle and bad feelings btwn the two of you. You have to let her fall on her own face and unfortunately that can take a awhile sometimes depending on the person. The one thing you can do is there for your neice. She won't forget it! Trust me. I didn't. My Aunt was always home with me, and to this day I am grateful to her for it. I will not say this will happen to your neice, because we are all different but the one thing I can tell you is. I STILL deal with "issues" because of those times. Although your sister probably can't see it. Yeah, her daughter is fine with it, cuz ughhhhh duhhhhhhhhhh as children we want to please our parents. AND bottom line, if she wasn't happy does it matter? Your sister will still leave her, go out and then be either too tired or hungover to deal with her the next day. It becomes a pattern. So why not keep the peace, and a smile on your face. What choice do you have. Children, learn what they live. I know I sure the hell did. I learned VERY quickly that crying and carrying on, only made her angry and "made a scene" one that my mother didn't want just in case it made the person watching me feel bad and then they may say no. So although you may cry yourself to sleep that night, you smile and say have a good time. And deal with the disappointment, and sadness alone. It's sad it truly is. I WISH people would slow down, stop and think about that lil person that is just DYING to show you the love and attention we all seek but unfortuntely............most times people run in the opposite direction, seeking the comfort from outside sources whether that be a guy, drinking, drugs or what have you. It's unfortunate but reality........she will not see the light until she is willing to admit there's darkness........and if she is enjoying her lifestyle.........there is not ONE THING you can say to change it. It's prayers are with her, you and your neice. I hope she sees the on coming train sooner than later. PEACE!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Scranton on

oh man do i wish i knew a fool proof answer to this one because my sister does things with her kids i hate (like introducing a man she is dating and then 3 weeks later he is gone)but honestly all you can do is talk try to get her to see your point i know you have tried it and gotten nowhere but people are stubborn and pig headed if you really fear for her safety like thinking the sitters she goes to are not up to par then i would suggest calling children and youth services on her but that will only ruin the bond you have with your sister and make her even more angry have you tried sitting for her if not maybe you should suggest that you do this way you know your neice is coming to you someone who loves and will take great care of her and she won't be hopping from friend to friend that what i did when my sister went out alot i hope i helped you in your situation i know it really hurts to think your neice (or in my case my nephews) are not being well taken care of



answers from Rochester on

I really am saddened by stories like this one. I wish it was ONLY a story. Your sister sounds like mine, just very immature, she has no children yet, when and if she does have one, she said she will put them immediately into a daycare so she can still work full time. My heart breaks for these kids, I know all of us have different opinions about SAHM, and some moms CAN'T stay at home but want to. I know for a FACT children need their parents(or guardians), to grow healthy and happy lives. Children NEED love and nurturing, NOT a babysitter. Low self esteem, abandoment issues, etc, can come from this reckless behavior your sister is doing. Unfortunetly you can't tell her what to do, and she'll immediately snap into a great mother, but you can live by example, and if you can take care of your niece sometimes. I know it may be hard, but your niece needs family and love until her mother grows up. Children are so vulnerable to EVERYTHING, you or a grandparent being there will help her in the long run. And another important thing, never put down or yell at your sister in front of her daughter, she is still your nieces mother. That can strain their relationship even more. You already let your sister know how you felt, which is very good and I am sure it is noted, although not wanted.

I know you wish we had some special "advice" for you, but you being a great sister and Aunt is the best thing you can do now.
I will pray for your sister and niece.

If we could change people instantaneously, woman all over the world would stop nagging husbands, and their kids...where would we learn patience then??? (But if you do find a way LET ME KNOW =)!!!)
Good luck,



answers from Albany on

Other then consistently telling her what she is doing to her duaghter there is not much you can do. If it is not too much of a strain on you, you may want to consider trying to take your niece to your house as much as you can so she has some normality in her life until your sister straigthens out.



answers from Binghamton on

well if it is truely as bad as you say, ask her if your neice can stay with your family for a while untill she figures it out. that way the little girl can get the love attention and family environment that she needs. from the sound of it your sister hasnt done anything YET to warrant DSS (department of social services) or DCS (dept of childrens services) to do a home visit yet-but if she keeps it up they might. all it takes is for the little girl to say something in school and DCS will go and they could take her if they feel your sister is unfit.

IF THIS HAPPENS YOU CAN PETITION TO BE HER CAREGIVER. and then when your sister cleans her act up then the state would see if she sould be reunited with her mom.

I really hope this has helped,



answers from Buffalo on

Hi J., I know how you feel. I have a very close friend who is just like your sister. She and her husband seperated and she goes out almost every night. I have done the same as you, but she can't see the damage she is doing to her son. Being a single parent myself I am not able to take her son as much as she would like. And at first I thougth that if I refuse she wont go be able to go out, but she would just find someone else. In the long run the only one to be hurt by this is your niece. So if you can, take her as much as possible.

I can tell you that for a while there she was having lots of behavior problems with her son. But they got better when the father moved in with his new girlfriend. Mainly because the girlfriend is really great the the little boy and instead of him going all over the place now he goes to the one place most of the time. Well I hope this helps.




answers from Youngstown on

self parenting daughter woman



answers from Utica on

Try to speak to her again, but calmly. You may have to open her eyes to what turmoil this is causing her child. If nothing works I'm sure her friends will get tired of babysitting eventually.



answers from Hartford on

Jess- I am going to respond toyour sister specificly, which in turn would benefit her daughter. Depression, a feeling of worthlessness, instability, they are like a disease with our society right now. Its a sad truth that many many people feel these emothions, feel they have nothing to offfer nothing of worth, and so have trained themselves to be what they believe themseves to be. You can't force her to adopt a new montra and starting tinking positive, and I have gotten my fair share of disbelieving looks when i've explained i've done it myself, but it works. The montra that changed my life was in my thinking to improve the qualities in myself that i admire in others. I am a different person, but i didn't have the baggage of more life and experience and sex and relationships to shed. I believe the older you are when you decided that change is nessisary the stronger you need to be to inact the change, but at the same time the weaker you are because of the bagged. You need to be strength and support for her in whatever way nessisary. If its possible to take in your neice so she has stability do so. try to religate something stable every week with and her mother. Sunday dinner with family and a board game, or thurday night bowling. when you talk to your sister, bring up the things that are good in her life- highlight the things you admire in her, repetatively until she starts to believe them herself. enlist her friends if possible.

Confidence can change a person. It can be the difference between a lifeless drone, and that eye catching beauty who's smiling in the corner- Its not her hair or her eyes or her money and cloths that make her beautiful its the way her shoulders are back instead of slouched, and the way she holds her own instead of trying to just flow with the current.

All things she is yearning for will come later- she has to be reminded of herself first.



answers from Burlington on

Hi J.,
I can relate to your situation but not because I have a sister like yours, I was the sister like yours. The best thing that you can do is be there for your niece. Hopefully your sister will change soon. Also talk to the rest of your family about the situation, if her daughter is mostly going to family you could suggest that the whole family talk to her. Or offer to take your niece one night every week if she agrees to only go out once a week.
Its really hard to make a judgment on why she is doing this. It could be one of many reasons. She could feel like she is a bad parent and doesn't know how to change things so she drinks to avoid the problem. It could be that she truly believes that this causes no harm to the child. There is an issue with your sister that is most likely more then she just likes to drink. I don't want to make you feel like you are wrong for being concerned because what she is doing is wrong, its just that going through single parenting well you, her sister, seems to have the perfect happy family is really hard to deal with. When someone feels that they have things bad for them its hard to believe that things will get better, and its hard to see other that have what you want.
I have just over 1 year from my "party days" and realize that what I was doing was because I didn't feel like me and my son were a family, and that if he didn't have a father figure in his life that it was my fault and that I was a bad mom.
Do what you can to help your niece feel loved and stay safe, but your sister needs to know that she and her daughters bond is the best thing she could have, a family doesn't have to have a man woman and child, just two or more people that love each other. I wish you all the best.

S. (a single mother of one 2yr old boy)



answers from Buffalo on

Okay... I was the sister like that too... and first of all, people need to know that this is usually a symptom of other things. I was a single mom long before my husband left (he never helped me with 2 boys 14 mos apart) and After my husband left me I felt worthless, he left me and I was a financial wreck and that made me feel like a worthless mother as well. I was abused by their father as well so I am sure I was suffering from battered woman syndrome... and well... my family was of no good to me, except my mother who was an enabler. My advice to you is.... Be there for her, she has a void that she is trying to fill, something is wrong inside of her.. I am not saying she is crazy or anything, but she isnt thinking logically. Some of us snap out of it quicker than others and realize and others dont. I am not in any way condoning what she is doing.

As for some of the other comments, I know that children need love and nurturing from their parents... but parents in order to do that need financial stability to do that. People who put their kids in daycare or send them to a babysitter to WORK should not be shunned. I am a single mother who works and I dont get to spend as much time with my kids as I would like now, but they are old enough to know that mommy needs to go to work to buy them things like school clothes and food and the things they need. Some of us dont have the luxury of being SAHM's when there is only one income and one parent.



answers from Jamestown on

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do. Constantly harping on your sister will most likely only make her act out in spite of you. I have a sister just like this. :(

Just be there for your niece as much as you can. When she's with you teach her things like personal safety, good touches/bad touches, how to call 911 for help, etc. Also, reinforce to her that you know that her mother loves her very much. Just help her to feel safe, secure, and loved.



answers from Buffalo on

Oh, I know exactly what you're going through. My older sister has a 13 year old and a 6 year old (the children are from two different fathers). My 34 year old sister has divorced both of the fathers. This wouldn't be so bad except that my sister divorced her last husband to be with a 21 year old boy who also happened to be my little brother's best friend at the time. For the past year and a half my sister has gone out and gotten tattoos, started drinking and having parties, started wearing ridiculous clothing from the junior's dept. and who knows what else. She passes the children off to the fathers some weekends just so she can have parties. It's so frustrating. She moved this new guy into her house less than a month after her last husband left. How can you do that when you have a little girl staring at you asking, "Where's Daddy?" It's heartbreaking. Honestly, I can't even look at my sister in the face anymore. It makes me sick to see her cast aside her kin. When it first started to happen I wanted to "save" the kids. I realized there's not much I can do. Currently the 13 year old is failing everything except for one class, so she'll probably repeat 8th grade. There is no emphasis on education in the household...just partying. I don't know if there's anything that you can do either except love your little niece and let her know that you're there for her. Your sister will most likely fight whatever you try to say to her. Even if she knows your niece isn't happy, she has to pretend that she is because it's easier. Defense mechanism anyone! I've been dealing with this for a long time and my sister hasn't changed one bit yet. It'll make you loose sleep, cry, yell, etc. but you can't save her unless she wants to be saved.


answers from Hartford on

Be there for your niece. You can't change your sister - her priorities are just different than yours. My sister is on marriage number 5. My niece was always carted around like a piece of luggage & used to her advantage. She came to live with me (in another state) when she was 10 for a year - to give mom a break from single parenting at that time. She is now 16 and has been living with our mother for the past year with no intention of going back to her mom. My mother spent oodles of time & money trying to get my sister to be the type of parent she should, but when it came down to it, it was really about my niece. Now, we just let her live her life and we take care of the girl. We never speak ill of her mother & we encourage dialogue between them, but motherhood is just not something she is capable of doing. I also love my sister, but part of that is accepting the person that chooses to be. I hope you find some comfort in all this & thanks for giving me a chance to vent too.

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