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WWYD - sibling feels entitled to DPs time

(152 Posts)
hatchbackofnotredame Mon 06-Mar-17 09:01:36

NC for this, but regular.

I'll try to keep this as brief as possible, but don't want to dripfeed so a bit of background is needed.

Sister is childless, recently bought her first house with her longterm partner, having lived at home to that point. She has mild anxiety and depression, but both she and her partner hold down well-paid graduate jobs. Despite owning her own home (which is beautiful) for 2 years, she still lives with my parents at weekends, including taking her washing there for them to do. She also spends all her annual leave there (she has literally never had a holiday elsewhere). She is 37.

Recently, due to a scheduling conflict, my parents pulled out of an arrangement to see Dsis and her partner for a week of annual leave. They didn't communicate this well to Dsis, and left it to the last minute to tell her, which was understandably upsetting for her.

However, Dsis is now refusing to speak to, or contact, our parents and says she feels that they have shown her "disrespect". (While I feel that they could have given her more notice, I disagree that they intended to show a lack of respect by it). She is accusing them of deliberately depriving her of any possibility of having a nice week off, because she can't possibly take time off in her own home with her partner and still enjoy it. Therefore, they have "ruined" her holiday and she can't forgive them for depriving her of "precious downtime".

What concerns me most is that she takes the position, and I quote, that our parents' refusal to have her over for the week means that they are "in dictating mode and there is very little that is less helpful that people telling you they know what you need better than you yourself do". In other words, she TOLD my parents she needed a week off with them, and they dared to suggest they had other things to do and that she really should get more used to spending annual leave with her partner alone. My sister thinks this is absolutely outrageous and that they owe her a nice time on her week off. There is no room her for my parents to have their own independent desires.

Important bit of context^: my position to date has been to stand clear of this relationship and to let them all get on with it. I have, however, become quite concerned about things since my DM has significant MH issues and there have been hints that these are being (unwittingly or deliberately) exploited. In particular, my mother finds it very hard to say "no" (due to an abusive childhood) by herself, so it's incredibly difficult for her to set boundaries. What happens repeatedly is that my sister insists that there is a ^medical reason for her to get what she wants: she must have their company on a certain date because of her anxiety, they must do her washing because of her depression etc. Now it has become that my mother is "damaging her" by denying her the opportunity to have the annual leave she wants. My Mum has said explicitly she doesn't want to do these things like extra washing (she and my Dad are in their late 60s and both are cancer survivors), but she feels guilted into them.

I just don't know what to do. Part of me thinks I should continue to stay out of this as a toxic situation that is between them. Another part desperately wants to support and protect my parents, because I feel this is now reaching a point of entitlement/potential exploitation where it is becoming almost a mild form of abuse. WWYD?

hatchbackofnotredame Mon 06-Mar-17 09:03:02

Oops, italics fail - apologies!

MimiSunshine Mon 06-Mar-17 09:07:46

I wouldn't confront your sister as I doubt it'd get you anywhere but I would be clearly telling your parents and Mum in particular that you support them and that they're right to put their needs and wants first.

If abdvehen your sister takes this up with you, tell her she's being controlling and you support your parents but agree they should have given her more notice but perhaps the last minute cancellation was the only way they felt they could get out of it without suffering weeks of verbal abuse

SheldonsSpot Mon 06-Mar-17 09:10:13

However, Dsis is now refusing to speak to, or contact, our parents

This must be like a blissful little holiday for your parents. I bet they're delighted to have a break.

Honestly - if it were me I'd be having words with my sister to tell her to get a fucking grip, but it sounds like the dynamic in your family is for you all, you included, to tiptoe around her, so I'm guessing you won't take up that suggestion.

RhiWrites Mon 06-Mar-17 09:11:42

Your sister needs therapy. Can you tell her nicely that your parents won't be around forever and she needs to start developing coping strategies?

IamFriedSpam Mon 06-Mar-17 09:13:12

Wow you are definitely NBU although I don't really have advise. Is your sister always this manipulative or is this a dynamic that just exists between her and your parents? I can definitely understand why you want to stop your parents being taken advantage of but I don't know the best way to go about it (apart from obviously supporting them in tis dispute and making sure they know they're not being unreasonable).

MsVestibule Mon 06-Mar-17 09:19:00

It sounds as though your sister needs your parents more than they need her, so they may appreciate the break from her. Apart from ensuring your parents know that you support them, I think you have to stay out of it. Your sister does not seem the type to reflect on her behaviour, so I doubt you having a chat with her about it will achieve anything.

Has she or her partner managed to do their own washing in this time? Do you know how her partner feels about spending all of his/her annual leave at her 'in laws'.

Derlei Mon 06-Mar-17 09:19:19

Really odd. does she have learning difficulties or esteem issues? My SIL is very clingy to my MiL (lives with her still, calls her continuously is MiL goes somewhere, gets angry and upset if she feels like MiL isn't listening to her problems), although she's 28, doesn't have a partner and has mild learning difficulties

Thinkingblonde Mon 06-Mar-17 09:23:03

I think you should encourage your parents to say no to her more often. Your parents shouldn't feel guilty for wanting your sister to fend for herself more. She sounds entitled and manipulative.
I am surprised that they have allowed this to go on for so long. I am in my late sixties, there is no way I'd spend every weekend doing my daughters washing (barring washing machine emergencies). Your parents must be exhausted.

unfortunateevents Mon 06-Mar-17 09:23:49

What on earth does her partner think about this? Does he have expectations of ever having a holiday or even a weekend with his partner? Do they want to have children? What are the dynamics of their relationship?

Kiroro Mon 06-Mar-17 09:29:12

Your sister is a giant fucking pain in the ass unreasonable manipulative bitch, sounds like your parents could do with some time off from her!

No advice, but do support your parents here.

AnnieAnoniMouse Mon 06-Mar-17 09:30:29

How does her DH feel being married to an overgrown toddler?

FFS she needs therapy or telling.

YANBU to want to help your parents here. Whilst she is 'off' with them, just tell her straight that she needs to grow the fuck up & act like an adult!

(Disclaimer: unless she has MH issues or her DH is abusive, then she needs help)

FlyingElbows Mon 06-Mar-17 09:32:20

Your sister needs help from a qualified mental health practioner. The rest of you need to Google the phrase "walking on eggshells". You are doing her, or yourselves, no favours at all by enabling her to carry on like a dependent child. Easier said than done I know but in enabling her you are limiting your own lives as well as hers. Ofcourse it's easier to appease her but the eventual fall out when someone inevitably cracks will be huge.

You're totally right that her behaviour is odd and unacceptable. Depression and anxiety are horrible but they cannot be an excuse for people to manipulate, control and abuse their families. But she's an adult so there's actually very very little you can do other than determine your own behaviour and the same is true of your parents. Keep your distance, don't entertain her behaviour and support your parents in doing the same. You can't change your sister but you can stop dancing to her tune.

Personally I'd go at her like a bullwhip (because it was when I did that to my mother that it drew her up short) but I have absolutely no tolerance for people who behave like that. Good luck to you, it's not easy having to deal with this sort of thing flowers

SolomanDaisy Mon 06-Mar-17 09:36:07

At the minute she's not speaking to your parents, I think you should let this go on as long as possible to get her out of her routine of dependency. Then you need to tell her how unreasonable she's being. Is she having counselling?

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Mon 06-Mar-17 09:36:28

Please, please tell me your sister isn't contemplating having children. She sounds as if she has never grown up.

Somebody needs to stand up to her and for your parents, especially your mother. She is being massively unreasonable. Surely her colleagues at work must have picked up on this and commented on it? What about her partner? What a slap in the face for him that she doesn't want to spend her annual leave just with him in their own home, or on a holiday to somewhere they would both like to visit.

I thought when I first started your post that your sister would turn out to be in her early 20s, and even then she would have been very immature. For her to be nearly 40 and behaving like this is gobsmacking.

Good luck, OP, I think you will need it.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Mon 06-Mar-17 09:36:42

Do nothing. You should all do absolutely nothing.

Let her have her strop and don't enable or feed her with the attention she craves. She'll soon realise she was better off before her tantrum with your parents skivvying about after her.

This is a golden opportunity for your parents to adjust their relationship with her to a more healthy footing - but you shouldn't get involved unless she's pestering you about it and then you need to be clear why she needs to grow the fuck up.

NeedsAsockamnesty Mon 06-Mar-17 09:40:44

Why on earth have you not stepped in so far?

If your sister is behaving like that towards your mother she's almost begging to be challenged

BarbarianMum Mon 06-Mar-17 09:41:13

So mh issues or not, your dais is basically acting in an abusive way towards your parents. I suggest you support them in setting boundaries (the fact they've chosen to go away when she's told them not to is a positive first step).

HappyFlappy Mon 06-Mar-17 09:43:16

does she have learning difficulties

Hardly - she has a degree!

Does her partner not know how to use a washing machine OP? Offer to give them both a tutorial. And the iron. The iron is a must.

Keep your tongue guarded around your sister, but back up your mother and father as much as you can. Let your DS throw as many hissy fits as she likes - she will find that the world does not revolve around her, and tbh, she's nearly 40 and the sooner she learns that the better.

And don't become her surrogate "go to" place for holidays etc.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Mon 06-Mar-17 09:44:33

Why on earth have you not stepped in so far?

Presumably because all involve are adults?

Ime stepping in to such a situation just gets you grief from all sides: the narcissistic drama llama has a fresh new focus (i.e. you) and the enablers are in denial so they don't want to even acknowledge the situation never mind deal with it.

You can support once things have turned a corner, like they have for the op, but you can't intervene from the off.

bloodyteenagers Mon 06-Mar-17 09:45:52

Let her have her tantrum. Tell her to get therapy and stop being so bloody childish. Ask her bluntly what she's going to do if hey move into a nursing home? She won't be able to stay with them for her holidays. And she sure as hell won't be able to take her washing there. Ask her what she's going to do when they die.

Let your parents know they are doing the right thing and to let her get on with it. Pandering won't help with the above scenarios.

PrimeraVez Mon 06-Mar-17 09:46:23

does she have learning difficulties

Hardly - she has a degree!

???!!

hatchbackofnotredame Mon 06-Mar-17 09:49:30

Interesting, there is a divide here between 'say everything' and 'do nothing'. This feels like my dilemma really! I am inclining towards a strategy of really supporting my parents as much as I can and not saying anything much to her. She thinks her behaviour is normal and that they are being deeply unreasonable so I doubt I can make much headway. I think counselling would be a great idea. I suspect she would resist it, however, as she tends not to like anyone or anything that suggests another viewpoint from her own, and I suspect this would be necessary for her to be happy. Catch 22.

The question about her partner is an interesting one, and something I wonder about myself. I don't know their situation well enough to be able to judge what the true dynamic is, but he seems a gentle, passive man who worships the ground she walks on. I think she probably treats him much in the same way as she treats our parents.

FriedSpam - yes, it has always been like this. sad And yes, I think my parents are exhausted. Before she bought they house, she lived with them all the time (despite the fact that she and her partner have been together for over a decade). They did everything for her - she would come in from work and they would have her dinner ready on the table, her washing done and ironed etc. She used to cook once or twice at the weekend, and saw that as ample compensation for everything they did for her! So the fact she's now spending 5 days a week in her own place is an improvement in the right direction. This moment is a huge step - it is literally the first time anyone has really said 'no' to her.

I think counselling is a great idea. I will try to suggest it.

Derlei Mon 06-Mar-17 09:49:41

"Hardly, she has a degree!"

HappyFlappy - Ignorant, much?? LD is a wide spectrum and doesn't mean you are thick!! My SIL doesn't have a degree but she has HND qualifications and is in a good job!!

hatchbackofnotredame Mon 06-Mar-17 09:56:29

Oh, and in the past - a long time ago (I'm 3 years older than her so there is a long history here!) - I did challenge her on the living at home thing, including the "They won't be around forever" line. But I was told in no uncertain terms by her to wind my neck in. She didn't speak to me for months afterwards, and regularly complains that I dared bring it up. So I am treading on eggshells, I really am.

It is difficult when, on the surface, the situation appears to involve consenting adults on all sides. I have always felt it was verging on abusive beneath that superficial level, but it's only recently that my DM has manage to pluck up courage to say "no". It's only when one party overtly says that they don't want it that this room opens up for the status quo to be challenged. sad

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