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Immature 52-Year-Old Sister

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From the U.S.: I have a 52-year-old single, never married sister who has always been psychologically immature. She was the youngest of four siblings. My mother coddled her because she was the youngest. She had a couple of low paying jobs after high school then was eligible for paid schooling under a government program. She did well in a two-year business school. She found a job where she could work from home in the field she was qualified for.

At first the job payed well and she could make a living. At this time she was also living with her fiancée. The relationship ended and she was on her own. The company she was working for was bought out and the new company did not pay nearly as well as the old company.

Since that time, which is at least 10-12 years, she has lived on her own but with a great deal of help from our now deceased father and myself. My mother was deceased at this point. She could never meet her $700 rent payment as well as utilities. My father and I have payed for dentist appointments, eye dr. appointments and many other expenses for her dogs. She would always say “can you loan me $$”. It has never been a loan since she could never pay it back. When my mother and an aunt passed we were left small inheritances which helped us all with our bills. She paid her car and her credit card bills off. Since she was not making much of an income this money did not last long.

My father passed two years ago. She received about $15,ooo in inheritance from my father’s stock holdings. She was fired 7 months ago from her low paying stay at home job. She was eligible for government assistance. She did not complete the application process because she was informed that she would need to place two applications per week for a job to continue qualifying for the weekly assistance. She said she wasn’t going to be bothered doing that. She will receive $5,000, her share of my father’s house that will be sold soon.

After she receives this money that’s it. She does not seem to be interested in looking for a job. I have given her thousands of dollars. I cannot give her anymore. When I tell her she is going to have to apply for welfare she hangs up on me. She has no friends. My health is being affected by this. My other siblings are uninterested. I’m afraid she will be out on the street. There is so much more that is disturbing me this is just the tip of the iceberg. Wish I could include more. Thank you.

Immature 52-Year-Old Sister

Answered by on -

A.

This is so, so hard. You and your parents meant well but, unfortunately, what your sister learned from having so much generous help is that she doesn’t need to help herself. She has figured out that if it looks like she’ll “end up on the streets”, you can’t stand it and will help her even though you said you wouldn’t. She isn’t going to believe you now unless you can figure out how to make it clear to her that the gravy train has stopped.

Since you are older than she is, you are close to retirement. You probably can’t support her anymore and be able to manage a reasonable retirement for yourself. It’s long past time for you to be more selfish and to take better care of yourself. That means steeling yourself to let your sister deal with the natural consequences of her own behavior.

Someone who “can’t be bothered” looking for a job and who won’t apply for benefits is creating her own crisis. She may have to be homeless before she gets it that she has to do what other adults have to do. If she does become homeless, you can give her the phone number of the public services that help people figure out how to apply for benefits and get housing. You can’t cave in — unless you are willing to continue to take care of her at your own expense until one of you dies.

You may need some support to hold onto while you make such a major change. For that reason, I do suggest you make an appointment with a therapist for some help.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Immature 52-Year-Old Sister

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Immature 52-Year-Old Sister. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/04/01/immature-52-year-old-sister/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.