Problems with My Family

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi, I am one of four sisters and have four brothers. We are a total of eight siblings. My father past away almost six years ago and so did my grandmother from my mother’s side. My mother was left to care for us all. She has never responsible to pay the bills in the house her responsibility was cook, clean and take care of her children. She has diabetes. After my father past away it has been horrible. Since my mother doesn’t work she received benefits for the 3 younger children. Social security and disability she also received Medicaid, food stamps and Section 8 Housing. She now lives with my four younger siblings. Without this help I don’t know where my mother would be. She has always struggled paying her bills on time and having enough food in the house. Me and my oldest sister are renting an apartment therefore we are not living there anymore. My oldest sister and I have helped her with everything talking to her, giving her advice; also financially we have helped her. My mother allows my little brother to miss school he hasn’t gone in like two weeks or more and he’s only in sixth grade. He doesn’t like to go and has had problems with bullying. I am afraid something bad may happen. Also my little sister that is eighteen dropped out at the age of sixteen and is now working part time. The seventeen year old is doing really bad in school with bad grades. Me and my older sister have given her a lot of advice and have tried helping everyone but it’s only so much we can do. My oldest sister and I are now working full time and currently attending college. I don’t want my family separated. I really want to help her but I have exhausted all my efforts. My sister and I have tried asking her to give us the checks she received so we can manage all her bills but she does not want to. No one else in the family wants to help. My two oldest brothers have their families and they are low income as well. My mother has an inspection coming up soon and it doesn’t seem like she’s taking it seriously. If she doesn’t pass this second time she is in jeopardy in losing the house. Please help me.

A. I’m sorry that you are faced with these problems. There are no easy solutions. As you noted on several occasions in your letter, there’s only so much that you can do. You cannot force your mother to be more responsible. You can’t change who she is. You also can’t force someone to do things that they refuse to do. Unfortunately, your mother’s unwillingness to change may lead to her losing the house and putting other family members in jeopardy. It is also possible that children and youth services will intervene in the case of your brother not attending school. The reality is that your power to effect change in this situation is limited.

You are doing all that you can do. The idea that you are doing everything within your power and yet problems still arise is a very helpless feeling but that is the reality of the situation.

Despite your very difficult upbringing, you managed to move out of your home and begin college. This is evidence of your resiliency.

I hope that your family situation improves but the reality is it might not. It’s important that you brace for this very real possibility. It’s never easy to be faced with these types of situations. It’s akin to watching a car wreck in slow motion. It’s unbearable to watch, especially when you realize that no matter how much you want to help your loved ones, there’s little or nothing you can do. For those reasons, I would encourage you to begin counseling. Counseling could assist you in determining your role in the family. It could also provide much-needed emotional support. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Problems with My Family. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/04/23/problems-with-my-family/