Author Topic: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?  (Read 7053 times)

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shylar

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toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« on: August 10, 2010, 11:32:12 AM »
I have an incredibly toxic sister. I've done my best to befriend her or tolerate her but she's been so rude and aggressive to me that I've finally decided to cut her off. I'm at peace with my decision. Right now, due to a series of bad financial decisions on her part and a bit of bad luck, she finds herself living with my mum. The last time I went to see my mum she went out of her way to be rude, hostile, contrary, argumentative and aggressive with me. My mum is aware of this (it's gone on for years) and generally asks me to be tolerant, rise above it and put up with the abuse because 'that's what she's like'. While my sister is an adult, I think my mum holds some of the responsibility here because she's encouraged us to tolerate this behaviour for years.

Recently, my mum invited me to her house. I declined, and told her it was because I was tired of the way my sister behaved towards me and I didn't want to be around her any more. I also invited my mum to come and see me at my house. She was upset, said I was putting her in the middle and declined the invitation. I haven't heard from her for over three weeks, which is very unusual for us.

My question is, how long can the parents of adult children be reasonably held responsible for the behaviour of their children? While my sister is an adult, she's also a guest in my mother's home and I'd be mortified to host a guest who was so rude to my other guests. How irritated with my mother am I entitled to be?

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 11:33:57 AM »
You are being perfectly reasonable. Your mother and sister - not so much.

Invite your mom to a neutral place - a park, museum, out to lunch or a play.  That should hlep. 
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

Poppea

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2010, 11:34:56 AM »
As long as your mother is enabling your sister's behavior she bears some responsibility for it.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 06:50:12 PM by Anthera »

Bibliophile

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2010, 11:36:01 AM »
Your sister isn't a guest.  She's living at your mom's house.  A guest usually has a home of their own.  Your mom is not responsible for your sister's actions, she's only responsible for her own actions & reactions to your sister.

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

fountainsoflettuce

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2010, 11:36:36 AM »
Mom can enable Sister as long as she wants to.  Best option is you meeting Mom at a neutral location - lunch; shopping; coffee; etc.   This situation will never change until your Mom decides to change it.

Bethalize

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2010, 11:41:41 AM »
She was upset, said I was putting her in the middle and declined the invitation. I haven't heard from her for over three weeks, which is very unusual for us.

Rest assured that you are not putting her in the middle. What you are doing is refusing to take up the slack for her in dealing with your sister.

My question is, how long can the parents of adult children be reasonably held responsible for the behaviour of their children? While my sister is an adult, she's also a guest in my mother's home and I'd be mortified to host a guest who was so rude to my other guests. How irritated with my mother am I entitled to be?

I think it is reasonable to be irritated with your mother. The fact that the person causes the problem happens to be your sister is neither here nor there. Your mother is expecting you to be a doormat and take abuse. You refuse. Your mother is unhappy because your action did two things: first it made her think about her beaviour and how it is lacking; secondly it made her face a new set of choices and that is probably worrying her. Hold strong to your boundaries and hope that your mother will change her behaviour at least enough to cope with the new set of facts i.e. that you won't be stepped on any more.

MerryCat

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2010, 11:44:23 AM »
So, let me get this straight - you asking your mum to come over to your house is "putting her in the middle", but your sister attacking you verbally in front of your mother is "just the way she is?"

Your mother is being unreasonable here, not to mention unfair. Unfortunately, in many families with toxic members, the rest of the family tend to focus on appeasing the toxic person at any cost. Especially if they are not the ones facing the worst of the toxic person's venom.

As long as you continue to cave to your mother's demands to be the bigger person, there are no repercussions to your mother, and she'll see no reason to take a harder line with your sister. I would back off from your mother for a little while, and let her deal with toxic sister.  Perhaps, when your sister's rudeness and aggression overflows onto your mother, she'll realize the extent of what she was asking you to actually put up with.  

I'm really sorry you're going through all this. I hope things get better for you ((hugs))

KimberlyRose

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2010, 11:51:33 AM »
So, let me get this straight - you asking your mum to come over to your house is "putting her in the middle", but your sister attacking you verbally in front of your mother is "just the way she is?"

Exactly.  Mom and Sis are the ones who are putting Mom "in the middle."  Mom just sees it as easier to guilt the OP than Sis.  OP, I see your mom as being very responsible for the situation.  She *chooses* not to set limits with your sister because it's too much work.  Until she's ready to move past her denial and enabling, Sis is going to keep acting this way, because she hasn't been given a reason to change.

Slartibartfast

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2010, 11:53:58 AM »
In general I think you have the right idea, but it could stand a bit of tweaking:

All you can be responsible for is your own decisions and actions, not your mother's.  So while you can choose to cut your sister out of your life (as well you should, if she's toxic), you can't demand your mother do the same.  If you mother chooses to let your sister live in her house and mooch off of her and throw toddler tantrums or whatever she does, that's your mom's business and the only thing you can (politely) do is decline to get involved.

So yes, you are perfectly right to not visit at your mother's house while your sister is in residence.  However, if you have asked your mother to change her own behavior (kick your sister out, stop being walked over, etc.) and your mother has refused, then all you can do is bean dip and possibly leave the room or end the visit if your mom starts trying to bring you into her (sister-caused) problems.

Animala

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2010, 12:06:09 PM »
There is a thread about my uncle on here somewhere.  He's near 60, still lives at home and is a rather toxic person, so it can go on forever.

Make healthy choices for you.  You don't have to put up with bad behavior from your sister and your mom cater to her all she wants.  Tell her she doesn't have to pick between you and your sister, because you aren't asking her to.

shylar

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2010, 12:10:16 PM »
Thank you all for your replies. In a lot of ways, I'm very torn on my feelings about this and don't trust myself to be objective.

On the one hand, I'm sick and tired of being the family punch bag and I won't put up with it anymore just to make everyone else's experience at family events easier. Her attitude is easy for everyone to ignore if I choose to put up with it. If I decline to go to family events and tell people why I am declining, I figure they can't pretend that enabling her rudeness isn't hurting or affecting anyone any more.

On the other hand, I really struggle with the idea that it is anyone else's job to deal with or reign in my unruly unpleasant sister. She is an adult and weather she is a guest or a household member, she isn't really answerable for her behaviour to anyone other than herself.

But on the third hand (!!) I am a mother myself, and woebetide any of my children who saw fit to talk to one another in the way she talks to me - and that goes if they were 5, or 25. Some things are not acceptable no matter how old you are, and as a mother I reserve the right to point that out even if my children aren't officially my responsibility any more. I kind of wish my mum felt like that, and also feel very immature that there's a part of me that wants her to step in and stick up for me.

Sigh. Thanks for the hugs. I've slowly been cutting off toxic family members (see my previous threads) in the hope that it will improve my relationship with the spineless enablers of the bunch. Instead, it just leaves me feeling like I've no family left.

Sabbyfrog2

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2010, 12:37:59 PM »
((HUGS))

I cut of members of my family long ago. I know exactly how you feel. But in the end, it's worth it. You will have  peace of mind. And you will always be surrounded by your friends and loved ones who DO value you and treat you well, even if they aren't "blood."

Bethalize

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2010, 12:42:51 PM »
On the other hand, I really struggle with the idea that it is anyone else's job to deal with or reign in my unruly unpleasant sister. She is an adult and weather she is a guest or a household member, she isn't really answerable for her behaviour to anyone other than herself.

People are naturally amoral. Learning what is right and what is wrong happens to us as we grow up. If your sister hasn't learned that yet then the only way to help her learn is by cause and effect. She knows what the cause is, the effect is not you leaving but the disapproval of others that you have left.

Anyone who is constantly as unpleasant and aggressive as this person sounds must be very unwell.

LEMon

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2010, 08:31:53 PM »
Your 'on this hand, and on that hand' is very thoughtful.   But may I add another hand?

You are a mother too.  Do your kids deserve to see/hear/know you are treated this way by a sibling?  And that it is allowed by your mother?  Do you bring it home with you (if you are the only one to go visit) by being irritable or upset?  How will their views of family be shaped by what is happening?

My personal feeling is they will be happier without the conflict, as will you.  So, IMHO, stay away from sis, and talk to mom on the phone or meet in neutral places till sis is no longer in her home.

Your mother is feeling the pressure right now: you are cutting off sis so how does she deal with it?  You decide what is right for your family and you.  Give her time to decide what she will do.

gramma dishes

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Re: toxic sister - how long are parents responsible for?
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2010, 08:45:11 PM »
Sometimes "family" consists of people who love and respect you.  Period.  Genetics sometimes doesn't make good choices.
Choose people who love you and respond to you with consideration for your feelings.  We aren't always stuck with the family we grew up in.
And I agree that your children shouldn't be witness to this mess.  It isn't okay to treat people like that, siblings or not.

You invited your Mom to your home.  She chose not to come.  I'd let it rest for awhile.  If she does get into contact with you at some time in the near future (for some reason OTHER than to yell at you or blame you for the status quo), I'd do as other posters have suggested.  Invite her (alone) to some neutral territory -- sandwich shop, coffee place, etc. (your treat if you can afford it) and see how that goes.

But you are right to have stopped tolerating the inexcusable behavior of your sister.  I think there's some kind of old saying about that.  The general idea of is is:  You can't be treated like a doormat if you refuse to lie down.