I have an older sibling who has kids ages 15 and 5, living with me and other family members. I have a mortgage with my other sibling and together we take care of our unemployed parents and responsibilities of the house.
My older sibling is a three-time divorcee and we help her with the kids as much as we can, even though we do not have enough space to accommodate her, the kids and her belongings.
We have had this experience of her moving in and out several times and the other family members just got tired of it. We have warned her many times after her first divorce to save something on the side should this happen again, but she hasn’t .
I have extreme resentment towards her. We only charge her pocket change to assist with the house bills so that she can concentrate on getting herself back on her feet and find her own place. It is now 9 years that she and the kids are living with us and she refuses to leave because she says that she does not earn as much as me and that I should find a place for her to live in.
She claims she sought assistance everywhere (low income housing, financial aid, etc.) but it was not successful.
Queenie, any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.—Fed Up
Dear Fed Up,
As long as you continue to let your older sibling live with you rent-free she will continue to take advantage of your generosity, because she will have no motivation to do otherwise. The fact that she does not earn as much as you do does not give her the right to sponge off of her more fortunate relatives and does not give you any obligation to her.
To start with, you should be charging her a reasonable amount of rent – more than mere pocket change. If you do not feel right about taking her money, put it in a savings account (one that she does not have access to) to be used for finding her someplace else to live and paying the cost of moving there.
You might also accompany her on her quest for assistance, and/or do some research about it on her behalf. You did not mention whether she is receiving child support from her children’s father(s). If she is not, she should be, as long as the children are underage.
And I hope she is at least helping with the physical work – housework, for example – of maintaining a home.