Toxic Family: Are You Obligated To Help?
I’ve been dealing with some heavy shit the past few weeks and it’s been hard.
I have an older family member who has been asking/expecting financial help to live because for years, he and his wife did nothing to prepare for their retirement and lived at a level that was well above their income. Not to mention, they were less than stellar family members and did little to help others voluntarily throughout the years.
Should you help everyone in your family just because they are family?
I keep hearing because they are my family as the reason why I should ‘do the right thing’ and pitch in but thinking about that brings up more questions for me…
- Where is this rule written?
- Why did they not have to follow it when others needed help?
- Am I a bad person if I choose to not help?
- Do I have to help because others in my family will be burdened and I should share the burden?
What I think bothers me more as my family starts to figure out how to offer help together is the lack of any sort of real understanding or care about the impact their ask has. It affects our ability to pay down our own debts, save for our children’s college and put away for when our retirement comes. All things they never did as they lived a high stylin’ life. When you don’t have any extra money, you have to change your standard of living – you can’t shop at high end stores or get fancy cars with a high monthly payments. It’s been their problem all along –they don’t grasp the concept of having to lower their standard of living.
The worst part of having to figure out how to help them is the bubbling up of old buried family issues. Maybe we need to celebrate Festivus – and air our grievances! Things that you thought were way behind you come to the surface with each back and forth. Their apparent lack of understanding or taking responsibility for their situation and their combative responses to any sort of inquiry into what’s really going on with them financially and physically literally brings me back to my teens and early 20’s when I was dealing with them more regularly. It’s a huge reason why I keep them at a far distance from my every day life – they are not healthy people.
Is there a way I can help, whereas it does not play into their unhealthy lifestyle but also does not cause me to revisit old family crap? That’s the question really – I try to focus on being kind to everyone but I am not willing to do it to the point where it burns me. No way…
Every family has stuff to deal with — good and bad. I am certainly not the first person out there who has had to deal with mooching family members. It’s causing me to turn in emotionally and I am finding it hard to be inspired and motivated to share like I used to. It’s a very sad situation and while I certainly want to help if I can – I’m not sure I can without causing myself inner turmoil.