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I Need Help With My Sister

Question:

My sister Jennifer is very dependent on me. For 1 she can not keep a job of any kind. In the last year she has had at least 20 jobs, and this last job she had she had stolen $50.00 out of their till in front of cameras may i add. She was diagnosed at a young age for adhd. Her life right now consists of 1 friend, which i think she is only their because she is obligated to. In the past 3 Years of my husband and I relationship she has put a wedge between us. We have helped her out so many ways it is not funny, shes lived with us at least 5 times out of the year, because she cannot hold down a job. She is a compulsive liar, and stealer. she can not control it. And when she does anything like lie or steal, she cannot except what she has done, she lies about it. and tells stories. This last job she stoled $50.00 and got fired, and to this day she still thinks she has a job and can not tell me she was fired and why. She will not leave me alone, constantly calling me everyday to help her do this and that. She has used me my whole life. She’s ruining my relationship with my husband cause she has stolen $1,000.00’s of dollars from us and doesn’t care that she did. and hasn’t owned up to any of it. My sister needs help. When we were babies we were abandoned by our mother and father , and were adopted by our aunt and uncle. Our mother and father did everything from drugs to alcohol while she was pregnant with us. we were both born with alcoholism syndrom please help me.

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Answer:

You are correct that your sister needs help and that you need help with your sister. It is clear that your sister has a number of serious problems and that you are being plagued by them. First, you report that she has ADHD. In addition to that she may have a personality disorder such as antisocial personality disorder. If she really was born with fetal alcohol syndrome it is possible that she suffers from mental retardation or that her ability to think and use good judgment is impaired.

One of the things you will have to start doing is setting limits with your sister. What limiting setting means is that you must stop helping her. What you are calling "helping her" is really preventing her from facing the consequences of her actions. In addition, there is no reason why she should be allowed to drive a wedge between you and your husband. She repeatedly calls you for help because you constantly provide that help. If you want the calls to stop then you will have to stop helping her.

If your sister cannot work then she can apply for public assistance. In addition, she may qualify for assistance as a mentally handicapped person under the Social Security Act. If you want to help her then learn what mental health agencies exist in your community. When you have found one that will be willing to meet with your sister have her go there and start to get treatment. If she will not go then tell her there is nothing more you can do for her and to stop calling unless she truly wants help. There are city and municipal hospitals and agencies that provide mental health services for the indigent which is what your sister appears to be. If she is connected with the mental health community she can be evaluated and diagnosed and begin to receive the type of treatment she needs. Who knows, she may qualify for living in a group home for the mentally disabled. However, I do not know. What I do know is that you must stop being of assistance to her because it is having the opposite effect of what you really want.

At this point your sister is unable to own up to anything she has done and may never be capable of doing that. What is more important than her owning up to anything is learning that there are very real limits and that she cannot go past those limits with you, your husband and your home. Do not allow her to call you, do not allow her into your home and do not provide shelter when she loses a job. I guess this approach might be referred to as "tough love" but sometimes there is no other way. You and your husband deserve to live your lives without her interfering and creating conflict.

If your marriage is in trouble because of your sister it might mean that your husband wants you to stop aiding your sister. If this is true then he is correct.

Remember, you can direct her to the proper help but refuse to do any more if she will not go for that help. Even if she does go for help, do not allow her to interfere with you and your husband.

Good Luck

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