My sister and I are both in our 30s. She’s constantly in a crisis, e.g. repeatedly evicted, fighting with one of her two kids’ fathers, broke and unemployed, etc.
She doesn’t want advice or help, and lies about her circumstances, though our family’s tried to help and insisted we aren't judging her.
She just wants a bit of money occasionally, which I give her if I can.
She’d met a nice guy and moved into his house with one of her sons. They were starting to become more stable.
However, that relationship fell apart a year ago. My family helped her get an apartment.
Since then, there’s been several boyfriends in and out of her and her kids' lives.
Recently, we met someone she’d been dating for a few months. He was already disciplining her kids.
Now they’re engaged. She suddenly wants us all to be involved in her life and the wedding.
I agreed to be a bridesmaid but the speed of their engagement bothered me – like she hasn't considered her kids in all this.
Also, neither she nor her fiancé are employed, and they’re planning a big wedding and visiting wedding expos.
After she invited us all to an engagement party, I felt I had to voice my concerns.
I wrote her a letter outlining everything I felt, including the fact that I love her.
I felt ill after sending it because she reacts badly to criticism.
Apparently, I wasn't the only family member who sent such a letter.
My sister sent us all a message that she’s sick now and can't deal with our negativity, that we’re being cruel and rude, and she’s upset that no one wants to come to her wedding.
I feel like a huge jerk. But I have too many reservations about where this is headed and how her kids are faring.
Should I have kept my mouth shut and gone along with this? Was it right for me to tell her how I feel? Should I apologize?
Too late for self-doubts. Focus on your sister and her kids.
Your concern was natural – two people, without any income, yet planning a large wedding are living on fantasies, plus the hope that her family would foot the bills.
Unless this fiancé had finances you don’t know about, she was heading again for a huge crisis and bitter disappointment.
Apologize for upsetting her, in person (wherever she lives). It’s your only chance at reaching her.
Tell her you want her and the kids to be happy.
But you want them to not face yet more disruptive moves, and more people just passing through their lives.
Ask her if she’s sure that her fiancé is the right man for her and the kids to have a stable life together.
Ask her if the two of them are able to afford their life together, on their own.
She may not answer, but you’ll have conveyed that these are serious concerns, not criticism.
Be prepared that she may not respond positively or indicate any desire to make changes.
However, the family can still consider some ways to offer meaningful help to improve the future of your sister and her sons: 1) Paying for her to gain skills and confidence to seek a job; 2) Contributing (directly) to her sons’ education; 3) Inviting her sons to spend some time with their grandparents and with you, for periods of stability and healthy role modelling.
Half of our summer wedding guests will be travelling from afar (bride's side). The groom’s parents (mine) are making constant demands.
We’ve included them in the wedding planning.
We finalized our guest list months ago and sent out save-the-dates. We’d accommodated their many late-date requests for additional guests.
We initially had a firm no-children policy, but due to the travel involved, we included family members’ children (20).
My first cousin just became engaged to a man with two children, who my parents demand be invited. We’ve refused, due to space.
They’re emotionally blackmailing my fiancée by saying that our selfishness will cause half of the family to not attend if we bar these two children.
Invite the children, they’re soon-to-be “family members’ children.” They won’t take up much space or extra cost.
Never mind that your parents will have won this last battle, because they’ve lost respect from both of you, through their threatening approach.
Tip of the day:
People, whose lifestyles attract repeated crises, need practical opportunities to change the pattern.