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Help from sister...Reasonable?

(18 Posts)
Tryingnottoswear Tue 09-Aug-11 08:46:18

Am I being unreasonable? My sister lives about an hour's drive away (she has a car). I recently separated from my husband and I have a 9 month old baby and a toddler. It is very hard work managing on my own.
I would really like (need?!) my sister's help. Yet I have only seen her a couple of times since the separation earlier this year. The last time I saw her (or spoke to her on the phone even) was nearly 7 weeks ago. I have told her I am absolutely desperate for some help and even if she can just come over for a day/afternoon it would be so helpful. But I have heard nothing.
Am I being unreasonable thinking she could do more? She is married and works in an office near where she lives, but she has no children, so it is not that she is tied up with them...

lels99 Tue 09-Aug-11 08:58:34

I think you are. She has her own life and may well have her own problems she is dealing with that she has not told you about. Surely your ex should be helping more?

fuckityfuckfuckfuck Tue 09-Aug-11 09:00:24

I agree I'm afraid. As much as you might want her help, she does have her own life, and it really makes me mad when people think that childless people have no commitments. It's understandable you're struggling. Is there noone else who can help? You often need to specifically ask, make sure your friends all know how much you're struggling, often you put on a brave face without even realising and they won't realise how much you need them.

SheCutOffTheirTails Tue 09-Aug-11 09:02:20


whostolemyname Tue 09-Aug-11 09:13:14

I don't think you are being unreasonable. Surely thats what family do for each other - help out when the chips are down. Even if she doesn't understand how hard to little ones to look after are she should be there for you as a sister as emotional support as much as anything. I would be there for my sister and she lives further away than 1 hour.

But i guess it depends on what your relationship was like before the separation.

niceguy2 Tue 09-Aug-11 09:17:53

We often have expectations when it comes to help from families. But when push comes to shove we chose to have children, not our relatives. Any help they are willing to offer should be considered as a total bonus and not expected. Doing the latter will just cause resentment on all sides.

Be careful you are also not transferring your frustrations on your sister who at the end of the day has done nothing to cause the breakup and is not responsible for the fact you are struggling.

I've raised two kids with barely any help from my family so I know how you feel. In the early days I really hoped I'd get some help. But I also learned that you really have to let go of any expectations or you will just poison relations with your family and the bitterness just eats at you.

Rule 1 of being a single parent. The buck stops with you.

Meglet Tue 09-Aug-11 09:23:02

Yanbu. Last time I checked families helped each other out. Obviously she can't come and help very often but she should have the common sense to realise you're having a tough time.

ladydeedy Tue 09-Aug-11 10:23:09

How was your relationship with her before your split? If not much, then I wouldn't expect her to suddenly come to your aid.

Tryingnottoswear Tue 09-Aug-11 10:34:21

Um, I thought the relationship was pretty good. We wouldn't see each other all that often, but would talk on the phone every so often and occasionally meet up to go shopping or something. It always felt relaxed and easy, even if looking back, we didn't meet up all that often.
And in reply to this comment "I also learned that you really have to let go of any expectations or you will just poison relations with your family", I just wonder what kind of family relationship there is to poison if you can't rely on each other for help when it's needed?
Incidentally, I had to separate and move away because of domestic abuse issues. So I don't have much of a support network, although I am trying to build one up.

Cleverything Tue 09-Aug-11 14:24:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pootles2010 Tue 09-Aug-11 14:28:21

But if you didn't really see each other that much before, i don't think it's fair to expect that to happen now. If you didn't make the effort before you needed help, why should she make it now?

Ephiny Tue 09-Aug-11 14:34:39

YABU. I agree it would be nice if she did want to help you out, but you can't really demand or expect it. Especially if it's just everyday stuff and not a real emergency.

AllDirections Tue 09-Aug-11 14:40:52

YANBU, it wouldn't hurt her to give up an occasional Saturday! Spending time helping family should be fun too, not just duty.

BelleDameSansMerci Tue 09-Aug-11 14:43:45

Have you asked her to help? If you don't have children, it's not always apparent how hard it can be. It wasn't to me pre-child.

She doesn't have to help you, though...

Shell85 Tue 09-Aug-11 14:47:12

You are being kind of unreasonable.

I am in a sort of similar situation, my husband works away 90% of the time so I am basically a single parent to our son.
My sister lives a ten minute walk away, she works and lives with her patner but has no children.

I have pretty much no support from family, my inlaws will have him over for a Saturday night sleep over once in a while, but they both work full time and they aren't exactly the supportive type.
My sister is the only family member I really spend any time with, or am close to.

Sometimes I do need help, but I don't expect her to help me, she has her own life, and I know it wold be unfair to rely on her.
But if she does help out I am very grateful to her.

My sister and her other half had my son at the weekend, I had to go away on a work thing on Saturday, so they took him out and treated him.
He had a fantastic time, and I know that they enjoyed spending time with him. But more than anything I was thankful that they could help me out.

Nither you nor your children are not your sisters responsibility, if she helps you out that is great, but you should not expect her too, she has her own life, just because she doesn't have kids doesn't mean she isn't busy.

Have you looking into putting your kids into nursery for a couple of afternoons a week? That might offer you some much needed time out.

crazygracieuk Tue 09-Aug-11 15:09:22

I hope that this doesn't offend but you haven't mentioned wanting to see her because she's a great sister and want to see her and you want your children to have an auntie in their lives. Your post sounds like you are after free childcare only and if you aren't mentioning the other stuff and being interested in her life then maybe that's why she isn't more involved.(I could obviously be wrong and it could be an innocent ommision on your half)

Does your sister know how desperate you are because you've been subtle?Could you go to her or meet halfway? Have you explained how she can help? If she doesn't see you often she may lack confidence to look after children.

greycircles Tue 09-Aug-11 15:26:08

YANBU. When my H walked out, my entire family - all siblings, parents and stepparents AND my inlaws (who live 100 miles away) were on the doorstep wanting to help me. Families help eachother.

gillybean2 Thu 11-Aug-11 14:37:01

What kind of help is it you are hoping your sister can offer you? If you let us know where it is you are strugling then perhaps we can offer some solutions to help you get through this really tough time.

Families should be there to help you yes, but the reality nowadays is that they aren't. And many people will defend her right to her own life and that you shouldn't expect her to help you rather than consider the fact you are desparate for help and have no where else to turn too. Many people are selfish and put themselves first in our modern society. They expect the state to give you the help and support you need rather than put themselves out.

I used to always be there when my sisters needed help or wanted anything. I would send them food parcels when they were poor students. I hired a vehicle and moved my sister and her then bf to the other side of the country when they couldn't afford to move and lied (by omission) to my parents when she insisted I didn't tell them certain things when she fell out with them.

I have changed my work days so I could look after my other sister's dc on many occassions. Driven an hour each way with my ds to look after her dc on bank holidays when she had to work etc. Taken her dc out so she can have a break and bent over backwards to help her, despite her being married with a husband who is supportive, and I being a single parent.

On one occasion my other sister phoned me late at night in tears asking me to come and collect her after rowing with her then DP. I was 8 months pregnant and there were gale force winds but I still got in the car and drove half an hour each way to get her. I thought her DP must have hit her or something she was so hysterical, but no, she was just upset and emotional and when he suggested they needed some space she called me to come get her. I didn't say anything I simply drove her home.

The last time I had my sister's dc I asked if she could bring them to me (not unreasonable I thought seeing as I was doing her the favour and couldn't afford the petrol nd had gone and collected them on numerous occassions before). She was hugely put out and in the end I agreed to take them back to her's if she would drop them off..! Not once has she offered me petrol money.

And there was the time a few years ago I told one friend I was feeling suicidal and really needed support and help. She didn't contact me for weeks, and it was in fact me that contacted her first - again... Although she did come good for me another time.

All my help and support to family and friends over the years was mostly unreciprocated. My expectation was that my sisters would help me too when I needed it, but the reality was that they didn't. The resentment has built to a point I no longer talk to one sister and am on strained speaking terms with the other. My sister feels I am selfish for wanting to be a part of her life and asking for help rather than waiting till it is offered (well I've been waiting a damn long time for it to be offered!).
When I complained that she withdrew an invitation to my ds for an outing for her ds's birthday she told me I was selfish for wanting to be there and that she doesn't regard me as family - her DP and her kids are her family she says. Even though she still had grandma along for the day. She said it was her ds's decision at the age of 5... hmm although her ds said 'mummy said...' when I told them how disapointed ds was at having his invitation cancelled.

Letting go has lifted a huge weight from me. That constantly being let down and being made to feel like an imposition for even asking for help has gone. I no longer expect any help or support from anyone because the reality is I won't get it so stop expecting it.

You're right that it shouldn't be this way, but I'm afraid that you will have to find a solution without hoping for your sister to help you.
From what you say I think she has backed off and isn't phoning you because she knows you will ask for help and she is unwilling (for whatever reason) to give it to you.
Perhaps you should break the deadlock and call her to see how she is. If you think it is worth the effort to maintain a relationship. But don't ask her for help and don't expect any to be offered. If she asks then say you are struggling and really need a break, but don't expect her to offer to do it for you.
Do ask your surestart centre what help and support they can give you. And look for suport groups and help in your area. There are charities that will come and visit to simply give you someone to talk too or help you with some chores if that is what you need. They vary from area to area though.
Unfortuntaley most people have to reply on this kind of help and support nowadays rather than that of family sad

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