My sister-in-law has no boundaries and is now asking me for money.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2013
My sister-in-law has no boundaries and is now asking me for money.
Tue, 02-18-2014 - 8:20pm

My brother and sister-in-law divorced a couple of years ago, mainly do to my brother becoming an alcoholic. My brother lost his home and his job, basically everything. He is living in a "sober living" house while he is in recovery and looking for another job. He literally doesn't have a pot to pee in at this point. It's such a sad situation for everyone.  They have two beautiful girls ages 7 and 11. My SIL has been fortunate enough to have parents who have been able to help her out her and the girls a home to live in (mortgage free), she has no car payment, and her father or boyfriend handle most of the handywork that needs to be done. I'm very grateful that they are taken care of in such a way. Also, my SIL has been teaching school for 15 years and has a masters degree. My SIL called me right before Christmas asking my husband and I to help her out with "Santa'" this year. I'm pretty sure the 11 year old doesn't believe in Santa anymore. I asked what they wanted and she went on about wanting UGGS, Northface Jackets, etc...I told her I'd be happy to buy them one "big" gift, but that I'd like it to be from me not Santa. She got tearfull and started saying how "these girls didn't ask for this" "this is not their fault...etc etc" I broke down and bought them each UGGS along with some other smaller gifts. I had no idea that they were also getting a bicycle, trampoline and an American Girl Doll EACH...just to mention a FEW of the gifts they recieved. The girls also have Iphones and Ipads...they are NOT hurting. My SIL called me again tonight...once again in tears saying that she's hurting financially. She went on an on about how my brother owes her lots of money in child support, and how this is not the girls fault and once again how they didn't ask for any of this. UGHH!!! I told her as nicely as I could that while I'm very sorry she's " hurting financially"  I'm not going to be able to help her. I really feel like she's milking me and also my mother for every last dime. I told her that Al-Anon has been very helpful to me and maybe it could help her out as well, as far as questions the girls have about their Dad. As far as the financial side of things, am I crazy to think that it's way out of line for her to continuously try andmake me (and my mom) feel guilted into giving her money? My husband and I LOVE spending time with the girls and ask for them often (we live 2 hours away). My SIL usually says that they "just don't like to be away from me" UNLESS she has a date or some reason when she NEEDS us to keep them...then they magically have no problem being away from her. It's all so frustrating. I would just like some honest opinions here and maybe some suggestions on how to deal with her?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

She can try to make you & your mom feel guilty, but you have nothing to feel guilty for.  It's not your fault that your brother is an alcoholic and doesn't support his kids--that is his responsibility, not yours.  Since you know that she really doesn't need money, I would not succumb to these pleas.  (I mean, I know a lot of single moms who have had to raise their kids alone w/o getting c.s. or help from anyone).  If she is working full time as a teacher and doesn't have to pay for her house, then I can't see that she would be hurting.  I would keep offering to spend time with the girls when she says this--if she uses the excuse that they can't bear to be without their mom, you could just remind her that they had a great deal of fun the last time they were at your house and couldn't wait to visit again (or whatever they said).  I'm sure if you give in once, she will be continuously having new problems that she can't solve herself.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

It sounds like your SIL is really good at playing the guilt card, and since it worked at Christmas its worth trying again. Every time you or your mom give in to her pleas, it reinforces her belief that she can get something from you. Whether her complaints are real or exaggerated, its not your fault or your problem to solve. Just like its not your responsibility to bail her out after she overspent on Christmas gifts.

I would try to summon up my most empathetic and tactful tone of voice and tell her that, while you're sorry that she is having problems, you are not responsible for fixing the problems created when she chose to marry your brother and have children with him. And you are not responsible for or able to remedy their financial issues. You love your brother's children and hope to spend time with them and even give them gifts at appropriate times. 

If she withholds the kids when you won't give gifts or money, its essentially blackmail. You can't reason with someone who would do that; you could pay the "price" and she could still withhold the kids and you would have no recourse (maybe your mom could sue for grandparent's visitation). 

If you are willing to throw some money at the problem you could offer to pay for her to see a financial counselor to learn how to manage her money better, since she seems to be in financial difficulty on a regular basis. She probably would not take you up on such an offer, more likely she would be insulted....but maybe she would realize that her constant requests are having the wrong effect and stop asking you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2010
i certainly would help the girls with food and things they cant do without. buy those things yourself and give to them.. dont hand over cash to any relative..that is not a good thing to start doing.