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Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Would You Do?

I have this cousin...

Man, her home life was terrible. Her dad is bipolar and untreated. Her mom is the most selfish human being I've ever met. She has a twelve year old brother who is so filled with anger and so empty of hope, I just don't know what to do.

My cousin grew up in a dysfunctional home where no one had any sort of responsibility, but waited for someone to do everything for them. Like, pay their bills, buy their kids clothes, etc.

My cousin is inexplicably smart. She grew up in a tiny farming community (they're not farmers) with a small consolidated school district, yet Yale contacted her as a sophomore, and offered to interview her as a junior. She didn't go to that interview because "she didn't have a car and no one (i.e. her parents) could take her."

Now, she's almost 21, she works at a motel part-time, she lives with her boyfriend (who is nice enough, but he's immature and not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box), and she's expecting a child in January. This isn't the worst thing in the world, except that the parenting models these two have had have been horrendous.

What is stressing me out the most is the constant barrage of Facebook posts she has about hating her life. I keep trying to build her up in encouraging ways, but in the past few months, I've realized I don't mean it. I'm just mad at her. She's so smart and so capable, but she doesn't want to do a thing for herself. She expects everything to come from someone else. For example, she and her boyfriend were "buying" a house on contract, on two part-time jobs. When the time came for them to put up earnest money, they didn't have it. So, she cried to her family for someone to give them the money or take out a loan for them, because they lacked credit. When no one did, she cut everyone off, because "those who could help, wouldn't." She didn't understand that risk or sacrifice it would have been for everyone else to pay her debt. And here I am, age thirty-five and a renter. I don't understand why people without full-time jobs should own a home.

But I digress. I want to encourage this young woman, and give her support through her pregnancy. But it's so difficult, because she not only expects it, but she's angry when she's not given these things she's entitled to. Do you have people like this in your life? Am I being too harsh? (I'm sure someone is going to say that.) How do you handle these situations?


Shannon said...

Yikes! I've known people like that and it will drive you to the brink of insanity trying to help. I think the bottom line is, you can't help someone who isn't willing to help themselves. No matter what you do, it will never sink in until they get over the pity party and get serious about changing their life. Sorry. ~hugs~

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend the book "Fool Proofing your life" by Jan Silvious. I know you probably don't have time to read, but she has good biblical ways to handle this situation and others like it without becoming (a) an enabler or (b) a bitter cranky pants in hiding from your family.

Marianne said...

LOL... I love both of your comments, ladies... because really, I'm already the "bitter cranky pants" ... or maybe you were referring to her? I don't know.

My mom's family is such a mess. I often say I'm the sane person in the asylum, and I really am. I sit there and watch all of these reasonably intelligent people make the same mistakes over and over and over again, and all I can do is slap my head. But then, they all gather and talk about their victimhood and tell me how EASY my life has been (I admit my life has NOT been hard, but I've made a lot of different choices).

Honestly, I think the only reason I wrote about this is because I'm fearing what sort of life this little child will have. I see - already - how different Nathan's life is than every other child in my mom's family, and it just makes me sad. Not only does he have this family that makes sacrifices for him (and for family), but he's got parents that are dedicated to training him up and helping him grow. That's not the case with the other kids in my family.

AJU5's Mom said...

Maybe offer to take her to places that would show her life could be different - to the local community college to talk to someone about going back to school and getting a good job, to a childbirth class to show her what she is going to have to deal with, etc. These things aren't really enabling her, but you are still helping her. But, I don't know if she would accept that sort of help...