Dear Annie: My older sister, “Susie,” is 33 and has been receiving financial support from my parents for more than a decade. They also pay her car insurance, health insurance and other bills. Susie does not work. She’s in a master’s program, but it is unclear whether she will finish. My mother believes she needs to help Susie, as she has had mental illness issues.
I am not upset that Susie is receiving money from my parents. It also doesn’t bother me that I am not likely to receive similar assistance. But I worry that my parents are giving Susie no reason to finish her degree or pursue a job. I consider it enabling.
My parents do not have the money to continue doing this. Is it appropriate to speak with them about this?
A Sister Who Doesn’t Know What To Do
Dear Sister: We don’t know the extent of Susie’s “mental illness issues” and whether or not she is capable of holding down a job or finishing her degree. Your parents believe they need to help her until she can support herself, and that pursuing a master’s degree will allow her to find gainful employment. We hope they are right. While you do not get to decide how your parents spend their money, you can bring up this subject and ask whether they have made arrangements for Susie’s care after they are gone.
Dear Annie: I have been married for 20 years to the youngest of seven siblings. Whenever a niece or nephew has married or had children, the aunts (myself included) have given a shower. The problem is, I’m never asked. I’m just told. Once, I didn’t even know until I received an invitation with my name listed.
Am I crazy to think that my husband’s sisters should ask whether I’m interested in hosting a shower? I’m expected to make food, clean up and share expenses, but never given the opportunity to give any input. The few times I tried, I was completely ignored. To make matters worse, my husband’s family believes they need to invite a huge number of people, which means a hall must be rented and the total cost becomes prohibitive. Each shower has gotten bigger and more expensive, and each time, I’m simply informed of how big of a check I need to write and what I need to cook.
We have a congenial but not close relationship with his siblings, and we don’t have children ourselves. How do I get the point across that I don’t want to be a hostess without completely offending the family?
Unwilling in Nebraska
Dear Nebraska: We won’t get into the etiquette of family members hosting a shower or having one so large that you must rent a hall. They aren’t likely to pay attention. Find a time when there are no upcoming events to talk to the sister-in-law with whom you are closest. Explain that you appreciate being included as a regular hostess, but you cannot always manage it. Ask them to please consult you before assuming you will take on these responsibilities.
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