(Closed) Desperate advice needed – Financially co-dependent family

posted 7 years ago in Family
Post # 3
255 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

Financially, your father shoudl be supporting your mother. If they were divorced he would be forced to pay allimony. Unfortunately, your father is under no obligation to support either your brother or yourself as you are old enough to be dependent. If your brother would agree to be diagnosed, and prove he is unable to support himself however, the government should step in with disability benefits. Back to your parents, they need to have a discussion about what his obligations to her are. As I mentioned, if they were divorced the courts would set support costs however they’ve chosen to remain married. 

As for your situation. I’m sorry. No child should be expected to support their parent and siblings like they themselves are the parent in the relationship. You need to sit down with your mom however, and have a frank and candid discussion. She is not being honest with you regarding financial responsibilities or even events that effect these (ie. her accident was hidden from you). She seems to have become completely dependant on you emotionally and financially and it’s time she gets back on her own two feet and acts like the adult in the relationship. Honestly, it’s not fair for your mother, brother and father to expect you to spend the rest of your life supporting them, rather then doing what you should be doing, which is concentrating on your own family (ie your SO and the children you should be planning to have with him).

Just my opinion

Post # 4
1274 posts
Bumble bee

Oh my. I’m so sorry that you have been working through this alone. That’s just not fair.

Your idea to have the list of bills itemized and organized is a good idea…if anything, it can be a point of reference for your conversation. If there is any way to track the spending from your own bank accounts that has gone towards your mother and brother that might be good to have to. Is it possible that your father doesn’t know just how much you had been helping all along?

My only suggestions would be to sit down with him and speak calmly and openly about how it is not your responsibility to save the family from their own finances. You can let him know how much you have helped out and what bills are causing problems currently based on your list. That you have helped everyone out enough and it’s putting a strain in your own finances and emotional health.

You can let him know that you are prepared to let go of the strings for the family and their financial issues and move out on your own again and begin your adult life THAT YOU DESERVE. I capitalize this so that you know too, that you do deserve to live your own life. You’ve been wonderful to your family, and have done a lot for them, but it is time for them to figure out things on their own now. Whether your father helps or they get third party assistance to get them set up. Your brother may very well qualify for some type of disability support if he is willing to seek therapy, for his anxiety. Just something else you could put out there for your dad. Sometimes family becomes an obligation instead of an emotional support system…if your parents can be told now how you are starting to feel, resentful, etc, it might help to save your relationships with them before too much damage is done. 

Post # 6
1226 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Wow, your story has stirred up a lot of emotions in me. 

First of all, as someone who has suffered (and at times still suffer) from anxiety, I can understand why your brother quit his job(s) due to panick attacks… However, I’ve suffered from those at work too and I’ve never quit my job because of them. If that were my brother, I would tell him to suck it up (Honeslty, your parents should be the ones to tell him that). I can understand that he might need some help to find that place in his life, but he doesn’t want to even try? What has he been doing on his days before he got enrolled? What exactly is his plan?

The school will be good for him. It will help him deal with anxious social situations a little at a time and hopefully after all of the experience he will gain from school, he should be able to work a job in the future. 

I’m sorry to say this, but I kinda feel bad for you after reading your post… I can’t believe your parents are both fine with you supporting everyone. I realize your mom might not have much of a choice at the moment, because of her financial situation, but your dad has been living all of these 6 years without contributing? Well that’s just aweful… 

I don’t have much advice to give you, but I wanted to post to let you know that I don’t think that this is fair to you at all. Your 20s are supposed to be YOUR’S ! Your parents are well and alive and their son is their responsibility, and your father should be responsible for your mother, AT LEAST partially responsible. You should be sharing this laod my dear…

Post # 7
11 posts
  • Wedding: October 2013

First of all, I can say that I am responding to my best friend in the world in the post, firstly by saying that seeing her deteriorate all of these years because of this has broken my heart repeatedly.

The fact that your parents have placed you in the middle of this drama-filled saga is the first problem, and I agree with the comment above that you were never allowed to be the child because of it. I agree that your father should help out, and become more of a part of the family. I think it could be healthy for all parties, including your brother. Everyone should be involved in this, you should not be burdened alone by these struggles.

Your mother is completely financially and emitionally dependant on you. She’s always called on you to help, and you were always there to help her, which is amazing on your part. The problem is, she doesn’t have the tools to really take care of herself. You need to let her know that you aren’t always going to be there for her and that she needs to figure out a situation where she can take care of herself. Give her a timeline and stick to it.

I know this gives you anxiety, and that shows something about you and your loving nature. There is nothing wrong with giving all of your family the tools to take care of themselves and giving yourself the chance to be truly happy INDEPENDENTLY. It won’t be easy, and you may feel guilty, but your mother is an adult and should be allowed to behave as such. She may fail, and she can know you are there as a support, but she can’t expect you to keep taking over everything. She needs to learn to express herself and use her voice when things are difficult or if she needs help.

I think you need to have a conversation with your mother, and maybe even include your dad and brother. I would openly discuss the things you feel everyone needs to work on, including yourself, and state your goal of starting a new phase of yuor life with your awesome SO. I know you are so fearful of the possible outcome(s), and I can understand that, but you need to do it for yourself. Honestly, I feel like if you don’t do it soon, you will be sucked into this completely, forever.

No one deserves to be in this situation, and I know it seems hopeless, but it’s not. Make a list of those issues you want to discuss and figure out how to solve them one by one. It will take some time and won’t be easy, but when you see change happening, you will finally be able to take that deep breath and shed that stress.

You are, and always have been, a very responsible person and have put the needs of your family above your personal needs for too long. You have a support system of friends, family and your SO to help you along the way.

Love ya bestie. <3


Post # 10
699 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2011


I unfortunately seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle.  You have mentioned that both of your parents hold the same type of job.  Can I ask what is causing your father to be able to save while your mother is not quite making it paycheque to paycheque?  Do they hold different levels of the same positions?  Are there different spending areas that can be evaluated?  I understand that your brother is a cost, but you seem to be contributing a fair bit yourself to the household.

While you are going to have a conversation with your father, and I know that is what you have asked for help approaching, is there a way to involve the entire family?  Perhaps afterward?  I would venture that there needs to be a timeline, budget and plan for you to be able to step out of the picture almost entirely.

Is there any way to be able to arrange an in-home visit for your brother?  Are there any services out there that may be available to you?  Perhaps a religious organization would be willing to assist, without being overtly religious?  I know there are pastors out there who are counsellors and willing and able to help people, regardless of religious affiliation.  There are also Jewish organizations.  Those are just two examples that I know exist.  There may also be some local social services that you could call who may be able to provide contact info for services that may help you get the necessary assistance for your brother.


Best of luck!

Post # 13
464 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I have little to add other than my sympathies and a couple of suggestions:

– If the utilities are in your name, then you mother is now ruining your credit.  As such, I would push to become joint on all her accounts and get medical power of attorney.  She’s acting like a senior citizen mother and all of us have to do this at some time so now is as good a time as any.  The main purpose is to ensure that you have the right to be informed about these situations, since she obviously can’t handle them on her own.

– If your father works in a job with benefits then he can put your brother on his health insurance until he is 26.  That’s federal law now in the US.  Self-diagnosing Autism, Aspergers or Anxiety Disorder is like believing you’re special; it’s just a cheap excuse to deny responsibility. There is SO MUCH the mental health industry can do for people with those conditions so they can live happy, successful lives.

Hope the talk with your father is frank and based on facts.  Keep your eyes on the ball–you want him to help out; but know that he won’t be able to fix it all.

Post # 14
3460 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Any update from the conversation?  I just read through the posts and that was my first advice – call a family meeting and lay the finances out on the table and the issues.  Be clear and firm about what you need (e.g. to move out on your own with your Fiance in six months) and then figure out a path of how to get there.

If your brother gets diagnosed a few things can happen: he might get disability payments, at least in some states I know the utilities *can’t* be turned off for non-payment, and again in some states your father may have a legal obligation to support him longer.  Now, it’s of course possible he may not be diagnosed with anything at all, so it keep in the back of your head this may not be the magic bullet.

Regarding your mother and her inability to handle finances, would you consider asking her to put you in charge of all of her bills?  She needs to learn independence, but perhaps in the interim you could manage it for her and give her spending cash from what’s left over.  Is she close to receiving social security?  Is it possible she might have a disability herself?

In at least some states there is a legal obligation for your father to support his wife, despite the separation.  This means she could go to court and request financial assistance.  You might want to talk to a lawyer to find out what would happen.  In some sense, what might be the best solution for the family is if your father moved back in with your mother (even if still separated) and took on your role, freeing you to move on with your life.

This is a tough situation and you should recognize that everyone will continue to lean on you as long as you let them do so.  You don’t want them to fall, but – unless you can get them to learn to take care of themselves – they will remain dependent because it is easier and they don’t have to do anything.  I think you need some family counseling/support of some kind, if not multiple forms (mental health, financial counseling, therapy, etc.).  I think your SO is being very supportive, but understand that this can be tough to watch, someone constantly giving, leaving little for the life you want to create with them (e.g. will you have kids if you know you need to support 3 others indefinitely?). 

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