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(Trigger warning) To only see my sister without my children

(36 Posts)
LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:01:59

...whilst she is using heroin?

She was sexually assaulted aged 11 and has understandably struggled ever since. She's had periods of self-harm, prostitution, prison & psychiatric hospital.

We've wanted to love her through everything & have always kept contact, she's lived with us twice. My children are now 8 & 6 and love her loads. We have tried to explain in an age-appropriate way & it's worked until now.

Just found out (tonight) that she's started smoking heroin & I'm ashamed to say that my first reaction is to think that I don't want my children anywhere near her.

I am terrified for her but can't bear the thought of how this could all end & just want to protect my kids. Don't want to 'punish' my sister though & I know that her relationship with her nieces & nephews is one of the best things in her life.

What would you do?

MeAndMySpoon Sun 25-Aug-13 23:05:48

No, of course you're not being unreasonable. Showing your DSis that you feel this strongly about it might just make her halt and try to stop. But obviously your first priority is going to be to shield your children from her addiction. In your place I'd do the same and explain, lovingly, why to her.

selsigfach Sun 25-Aug-13 23:07:29

Your children have to come first. Your job as a parent is to protect them. You can support your sister without having your children exposed to her behaviour.

Xmasbaby11 Sun 25-Aug-13 23:09:28

YANBU. I don't really know how a heroin smoker might behave (are you worried she will hurt them?), but your children are too young to see this firsthand. You can still pass loving messages between your sister and children, and stress it is not a permanent exclusion. The main thing is that you will still see her and support her.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:09:52

Thanks me&my. I'd been on the ADFAM website where they have great advice about setting & maintaining boundaries, but these usually have to be mutually agreed with something to gain for both parties. I know she'd never willingly agree to this so needed some perspective.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:10:46

Thanks Selsi & Xmas. Much appreciated advice.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:13:57

Xmas, not worried that she would ever intentionally hurt them, she is a lovely & loving aunty. Scared what it will do to her & don't want kids to go through the pain of watching someone they adore go through what might happen if she becomes completely addicted/starts injecting et c.

OctopusPete8 Sun 25-Aug-13 23:16:29

totally agree your kids have to come first.

if she asks why your kids don't come, you could be honest and say its because of the drug use, it might be a lightbulb moment.

Did you expose your children to her when she was a prostitute?

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:20:36

Thanks Octopus. I don't think kids did see her at that stage (she was living in a hostel for 6 weeks & it was during that time that she was involved in prostitution) She went straight to prison after that & thankfully came out in a much better situation.

OctopusPete8 Sun 25-Aug-13 23:31:53

Ok, was gonna say I wouldn't expose my children to a street prostitute because of the drug use, dodgy punters etc hanging around possibly pimps.
etc ,
What are her living situation now?

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:33:03

She's in a supported tenancy after recently coming out of hospital.

Footface Sun 25-Aug-13 23:39:58

I've been in a similar situation with a relative. My dc are younger than yours though so its a bit easier. It's a difficult situation, and I've found that the person they were before the drugs isn't there anymore, and a sort if shell is left.

Your dc's must be your main concern and yanbu to stop contact for them. They don't need to see it

malovitt Sun 25-Aug-13 23:42:13

I am in a similar position to you , OP.

My kids adore their auntie but know she is a heroin addict. I remember them watching her carefully on one of her rare visits when they were really small and later asking me what was wrong with her as they had realised how oddly she was behaving.

I explained as best I could and they accepted it. She too had had an awful experience as a teenager, which led her down that road. My kids bristle when anyone uses terminology referring to 'scummy junkies' within earshot, as they love her and feel so sad for what might have been.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:43:21

sad Footface. Hope things improve for you & your relative very soon.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:44:44

Thanks madlovitt. Heartbreaking stuff this.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:45:32

malovitt!! Sorry!!

Edendance Sun 25-Aug-13 23:54:11

Could you perhaps encourage them to write to her 'while she's not well'? Perhaps contact like that could give her a goal- something and a relationship to aim towards rather than no contact at all.

LadyBumps Sun 25-Aug-13 23:57:04

Yes Edendance, I think letters or texts might be a good idea for now, thanks.

ediblewoman Sun 25-Aug-13 23:58:19

I have a good friend in a similar position and whilst not a panecea she has found that really tight boundaries of the kind you are proposing work for her family. Good luck.

LadyBumps Mon 26-Aug-13 00:00:34

Thanks edible.

Maryz Mon 26-Aug-13 00:09:52

Is she interested in coming off the heroin?

Has she expressed any interest in rehab?

I would not let my children see her while she is an active addict. I know from experience that the only thing that makes addicts stop is a fear of something greater than fear of losing the drugs. Maybe fear of losing her beloved nieces/nephews will make her think?

Boundaries are so difficult with addicts. We all think that if they are happy they will stop using, so we want to make them happy. But it seldom works.

Mondayschild78 Mon 26-Aug-13 00:44:59

I'm in a similar position, I do not see my brother much but I do not stop him from seeing my son (but he is only 22 months old so could be quite different to your circumstances as your children will pick up on so much more). My brother has used a long time but he's generally ok when we see him and I do not feel he is any danger to my son. If I did at any point I'd walk straight out of the situation. You have my sympathies though, it is heartbreaking.

Morloth Mon 26-Aug-13 00:48:58

God that is heartbreaking, but your kids have to be your priority.

Her addiction is now hers.

Don't put them through this. She/you have a choice, they don't.

CorrineFoxworth Mon 26-Aug-13 01:18:46

I had to do this with my sister when she brought a risky person to live with her and her DC a year ago.

DD used to love spending time with her aunt but this man is so dodgy...

I am unreasonable because he has eight kids of his own, you know and will shortly after a court-case be able to see the under-age ones following an accusation of abuse which was apparently all spite.

How my sister's social worker justifies this I do not know, but she does.

Keep your children safe OP.

EmmaBemma Mon 26-Aug-13 05:41:21

I wouldn't keep my children away from her entirely - I think that would be too cruel, like another kick in the teeth. You say she loves them and is a great aunty. I would speak to her about it and say you don't want the kids to be around her when she's high.

I know it's not easy having a family member with an addiction but in my experience cutting someone out rarely produces the "lightbulb" moment described here, but rather accelerates their decline and isolation.

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