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I am the oldest child in the family. My parents come to stay with me for 3 weeks in summer with my sister's child. When they are here, I give them about $1000 in cash so they can have money to go shopping. I also pay for everything while they are here. Somehow this arrangement was always expected and this summer trip happens every year. I found out that my mother has been spending money I had given to her to buy gifts for my younger sister. My younger sister is dependent on my parents financially as well as taking care of her child. I feel very upset that indirectly I am financing my younger sister's expensive shopping habit. Tonight, I refused to purchase a brand handbag for my sister. My mother became furious and said I was selfish. My mother always favored my sister. I told her that I should not be a piggy bank for my sister's shopping. I know my mother is expecting to take care of her financially as she age. I am afraid that it will also means indirectly supporting my younger sister financially. I would love to hear what you would do in my situation. My mother always have been very manipulative and selfish. I have always been her care -taker even when I was 6 years old.

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You are not six years old anymore. Now you have choices and it isn't required that you continue a pattern that was begun years ago, unless that is what you want.

Do you enjoy your parents visit? Usually visitors bring gifts to the host, take her out for a meal, treat everyone to a night out, SOMETHING to show their gratitude. Why are you not only playing hostess but also giving them money? Are you considerably more wealthy than they are?

Nevermind about your sister -- nothing you can do about that. But it really sounds to me like you are being used, and that has been your role since childhood. Don't like it? Change it.
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You ain't gonna win this one was my first reaction...Then I got to thinking about it and felt like this is an opportunity for you to keep things in perspective and be satisfied to an extent that you have coped with this since you were a child. Favoritism to a sibling is not fun. I experienced it to a major degree. Now I just feel like my parents did the best they could, and logically would not have consciously acted in ways that resulted in me feeling diminished and uncared for. So, in effect, I gave them a break...How to handle? Well, the thousand dollars is a lot, unless one is very well off. If it is a big sacrifice for you, then you may just cut back perhaps by a fourth or a third. On the other hand, if you give her money, then it would seem to be troublesome to monitor her purchases. Do you want the bother?

She will continue to help your sister. Nothing you can do about that. Whether it is partly from what you give her or not, she will still help her and likely favor her, if I understand your comments.

Perhaps perspective this way would help. Imagine your pastor, priest, rabbi, whatever giving the eulogy when your time to go on to your reward has come:
Do you visualize the eulogizer saying "FreqFlyer would have had a truly satisfying life if only her mother had not favored her sister so openly." ???
Only saying.

We can't stop the birds from flying over our heads, but we can prevent them from building a nest in our hair. You have a very legitimate gripe. Dwell on it 5 minutes every day. Then spend five minutes writing down your gratitude list of ten items not including any repeats from the items of the previous day.

Grace + Peace,

Bob
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When a gift is made, it generally would beconsidered to allow recipient to spend as he/she chooses. Perhaps that's what your mother feels is her choice.

From now on, you might want to make the purchases for things your parents need yourself - that way there's no confusion about whether or not your mother can exercise discretion in how she uses the money.

Your mother is enabling your sister to be reliant and dependent on her but that doesn't mean that you must be as well.

I would continue to directly pay for expenses that I thought were necessary, but stop giving money that could be used for a sister who isn't providing for herself.

I think there are going to be some family battles, but you don't need to enable your mother to in turn enable your sister to be dependent.

What you could also do is secretly set aside some funds for your niece, as she may at some need that assistance.

I am adamant that someone who doesn't want to support him or herself will never get any help from me!
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This would be an easy one for me. No more handouts. Your parents are enabling your younger sister to be irresponsible. She needs to learn to support herself and her child and to live within her means. As for helping your parents financially as they age, that is entirely up to you. With a very few specific case exceptions, adult children are not responsible for supporting their parents. If mom and dad are "gifting" little sister financially, you may want to guide them to some info about how Medicaid feels about these gifts.
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It sounds as though you are not entirely sure with how this trip/vacation/monetary gift situation came about in the first place. Perhaps it's time for you to start a new family tradition of taking yourself off on vacation and not entertaining family. No explanations are necessary;you have other plans this year. Your past actions were extremely generous, but once generosity becomes taken for granted, it's often time to pull back.

You have no obligation to support either your parents or your sister.
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BTW, like a lot of us evidently, I come from a very dysfunctional family. Lots of long standing 'rules' exist that none of us seem to understand how they even came to begin in the first place. My mother likes to scream at me that I am crazy but I am the only one who sensed the complete craziness in how my family dynamic worked and sought counseling! So when I run into the nastiness, lying and accusing I remember that I did the work to get my act together over 30 years ago and I am not ever regressing into that black hole of nuts. My own parents would come to our house for three or four weeks annually and it was the worst h*ll most of the time. They used to call us and tell us when they were coming. After a pattern of me bending over backwards and my mother flying off the handle repeatedly and calling people ranting about this and that, I told them 'no more'. My dad then, co dependent that he is, tried to appeal to my husband, who backed me up and shut him down. They then tried to shun me and freeze me out and I came to realize that it had the opposite effect. Peace, no drama-drama, and a whole lot cheaper than hosting them for that long! In a case like ours, I don't think we end up missing 'them' if this happens but end up realizing we never had what we thought we'd miss.
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People do not take advantage of us unless we allow it.
I have learned this the hard way, and take full responsibility for allowing it to happen.
So you now have a choice as to what you will allow to continue.
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AK, good point about Medicaid's position on gifts to the younger sister.
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Hey Mclmini, wow you are really nice to host the vacation and generous with the spending $. 3 weeks is a long time if they're staying with you, I go nuts when anyone stays with me for over 3 days! :-) Think I'd be ready to head it off for next year, or at least shorten it if you're unhappy with it. Nothing wrong with that, maybe you could drop by their neck of the woods for a bit when YOU are on your vacation instead?

Unless your Sis is mentally or physically disabled, really no reason anyone should be giving her anything, much less expensive presents. (?) If she's just irresponsible, fixing everything for her is never going to teach her anything, except that is where "income" comes from, (from other people rather than a job). I saw a social experiment with a group of 6 year olds who were 3rd generation welfare recipients who were asked "what are you going to be when you grow up?". They laughed their heads off rather than answer they typical "Nurse, Fireman, Ballerina". When pressed further they said they weren't going to work. When asked where they were going to get their money to live, they all said, "mailbox". That's a bad path to lead someone down, your Mom needs to knock it off before it's too late.

Good luck to you!
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McImini...your parents are taking advantage of your very generous heart. I feel you may possibly be bending over backwards for them as a way to somehow "buy" your way in to their good graces. They favor your sister, but expect you to foot the bill for their visits, AND give them $1k spending money?? Wow. How did that happen?

Funny in life how things just "get that way" over time. In my family, my mother's parents came to stay with us every year from September through May - 9 months! They lived up north and would "winter" down south with us, where the weather was mild. My mom said she felt sorry for them and felt responsible for their happiness, for some reason she never quite understood. Here she was taking care of her family of 4 unruly, close in age children + husband, and her two parents, year after year! Their visits were for the entire school year, so it interfered with our parents being able to help with homework, be more involved in our lives, since they were busy catering to the needs of the two 50+ year olds in the house. My grandparents rarely lifted a finger to help with all the cooking, cleaning, and running of the household. They acted like they were at a hotel, and took over my room for the duration of their stay. I went into my room once to look for something and my grandmother came in and chewed me out, saying "While we're here this is OUR room and you stay out!!" Wow, I sure wish I had been a more assertive child, I would have raised hell over that. But we were all taught to be passive and tiptoe around adults, so I didn't even tell my parents she said that to me. I can still see my mom hauling in the groceries packed into her station wagon...she would spend about $200/wk and that was back in the 60's-70's! They never paid a dime for anything, never took any interest in us kids, never took us anywhere. They were strictly there for the free meals, lodging and entertainment. Basically my mom let them take over our lives at the expense of her kids and husband. My mom started taking her frustration out on me and I felt squeezed out, so I moved in with my boyfriend at 19. They were horrified when they found out 2 weeks later, and my mom pleaded with me to move out of his apartment, saying I was "killing my grandparents". Good try at manipulation - I told her, no, now there's more food for them and I'm no longer in the way. This annual "visit" continued until they moved in with my parents after all of us kids had moved out on our own. At that point my mother felt totally suffocated and trapped.

My point in sharing all this is that at some point you must feel, like my mother, that you can't suddenly stop providing for someone after doing it for so long. She did it for so many years that she became their permanent doormat, even though they always favored her younger sister (she had a family too, but her husband put his foot down and limited their visits to 2 weeks). So when my grandparents were 75 and starting to actually need her help, my mom had already been taking care of them for the better part of 25 years! At that point she couldn't just suddenly stand up to them and stop doing what she had been doing for so long.

So the sooner you set your boundaries the better. They are using you to help them enable your sister's dependence. It will only get worse as they get older. It will be difficult and may cause a rift in the family, but in the long run you have to draw the line. Don't let this pattern continue for your lifetime...life is too short. And if they turn their backs on you for not continuing to fork over the cash and endure their long visits anymore, you will need to face the fact that maybe their love for you doesn't run very deep. I feel for you and the situation you are in, but only YOU can change it. I wish you the best!!
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