General Etiquette > Family and Children

Being helpful or being a rude busybody?

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  So there's this situation in my family- a distant family member has had a baby out of wedlock and is having a rough time of it. She lives with her parents but is struggling with all the woes of such- being on state assistance, paying daycare, two really crappy, jobs, ect. Her parents are supportive in that they let her live there for free and such, but her other struggles are met with " well you made this bed, lie in it"

      So I really don't know my niece well, I haven't seen her since she was a wee one herself, but have been following her struggles online. ( she openly shares a lot)  I don't know what it is about her situation exactly that has captured me, but I see myself in her. I could have been her back in the day. I had that kind of misdirected life as a teen and only by sheer luck did I not end up in her exact situation.  So because of that, I keep thinking I want to help her.  She wants to go to vo-tech school but it's impossible with two dead end nothing jobs and bills, and well you all know the endless cycle of that. I want to offer for her to stay with me for free and then she can use her student grant for a school in my town ( larger town, bigger better schools too). I would offer to babysit for free as well, or she could use state funds for daycare if she preferred.

So I was telling my friend about this idea and her response was " why in the heck would you want to do that? " cue horrified look.
 She went on to say that my idea was "wierd" and creepy and I barely knew this girl and why would I want to butt into other people's lives?
My take on it, is the girl is 18, and so far she's had a rough road and maybe she needs some help. No one was there to ever help me at that age, and I know how THAT feels. Yeah, I don't know her, but she is related to me, and I'm in a position to help her, so why not?
My friend thinks it's WAY overstepping boundaries and this girl has parents and other family and it's up to them to help her, not some distant aunt and I'm a huge busybody for even thinking about getting involved. it wierd or creepy I want to help this girl? I mean I haven't even offered and now because of my friend I'm rethinking this whole thing. Thoughts? Rude or no?

My first instinct is that this is really sweet, especially if you're 100% sure she really wants to go to school. And especially if it's presented in a low-pressure sort of way. It also sounds like it could be the beginning of a really good book.  :)

I think this is a very kind-hearted thing to do.  Just be sure to be aware if she starts running wild (i.e. not attending school, leaving baby with you for longer periods than planned, staying out all night, etc.).

Make sure she knows your expectations and you know hers right from the start.  Put them in writing if you have to.

I think your heart is in the right place, but, I think you would be wise to get to know her a bit first. You're about to offer someone with known issues to live in your place and use you as unpaid babysitting. How will you feel if she uses that babysitting to go out drinking? How will you feel if she doesn't pass her courses? How will you handle the increase in bills? What if you don't end up getting along? You're getting a roommate, and that's not a minor amount of stress added to your life.

I'd start with emailing her and showing support. Get to know her. Find out what she'd like to do, and if her expectations are realistic. I might even ask her to come up with a plan and "sell" it to you. She wants to go to school, so she should pitch that to you as a potential investor.

I'm not sure what you'd be providing that her parents aren't already providing.. free babysitting? Or were you going to help out with her other bills so that she didn't have to work?

While I also think it is sweet, I do think it would be overstepping. I'd be miffed if a distant relative that we barely knew stepped in to "rescue" my child in such a situation. I know it seems harsh for her parents to take the "your bed, lie in it" attitude, but they are her parents, and it's their decision to make. It sounds like they are trying to teach her a life lesson by making her own her choices, and it's not your place to step in to that because you feel sorry for her.

I think if you want to help, you should contact her parents and ask. If you want to extend the offer for her to stay with you, it should be made through them. I know, I know.. she's 18 and a legal adult, but she is still their child. If she were 25, I'd feel differently.


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