Advice needed: in-laws live with us

Dalia - posted on 04/20/2016 ( 12 moms have responded )

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My husband and I have been married a few years and have a newborn baby. We recently moved to North Carolina and have graciously invited my husband's Aunt to live with us rent free as she does not have a job and has struggled financially. She does not pay rent, utilities or her cell phone bill as my husband and I cover all of that.

She has grown to assume we will care for her (groceries, every meal out (and she likes to drink), cleaning supplies, you name it). I have the mentality that if you need more money go get a job. She is not our child and she needs to be a bit more financially independent. My husband is ok with me helping to push her to buy her own things but since this is my husband's Aunt does he need to have a talk with her to set some boundaries or am I ok to discuss even though she is not my Aunt?

My husband could care less we pay for all of these things for her as we can afford it. To me it is just principal that she has very few bills, makes $1,000/month on social security which she spends on buying new clothes every other day, new hair cuts, new decor for her bedroom, car and health insurance, etc when I believe she should be funding some of her own living expenses as she is not our child. I am ok with us putting a roof over her head and providing her with company but that is where I draw my line as this is a permanent living situation...not temporary.

I'm happy to have a conversation with her but am looking for advice as how to not offend or hurt her feelings as she is very sensitive. I want to be encouraging and not offensive in my wishes for her to have some financial independence.

I feel this way also as my husband and I just started our own family and plan to have 2 more kids. I feel our savings should go toward our future and our children's education. We just bought our first home a month ago. We have a lot on our own plate that we need to set ourselves up for financial success that I don't believe a grown adult who refuses to get a job at 71 because she thinks it's too late in life should be our responsibility to care for entirely.

Thoughts, advice, etc.

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Dalia - posted on 04/22/2016

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Oh no problem at all. I absolutely appreciate your advice. Thank you very much!

Dalia - posted on 04/22/2016

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Writing back again for insight. Same family member has had A LOT of unexpected costs come up that she is covering on her own.

Would you still have this conversation mentioning this is effective starting today OR give another month knowing it has been a rough month with unexpected costs for her? I struggle with being too nice and keeping firm with my point of not needing to support/baby her.

Dalia - posted on 04/22/2016

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Thank you for your advice. Please note- we have allowed/invited her to live in our home. Just want to make sure my concerns/intentions of boundaries weren't confusing as I feel we are doing a lot already as it is.

B - posted on 04/22/2016

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Hi, This can be a tricky situation. You have clearly identified the need for boundaries! Since you are a young family just starting out, I think now is a great opportunity to begin communicating to others what is best for your family. Can you and your husband discuss what boundaries need to be set? Also, this will give him the chance to learn how to establish them by taking the requests to her. Not only can he learn how to protect but the aunt can see what it looks like! It seems like she will be understanding if she has allowed you to live there!

Mary - posted on 04/21/2016

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Thank you so much for saying that Dalia, I really appreciate that. I'm glad to help!

Dalia - posted on 04/21/2016

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I'm not sure I have ever received such great advice before. Thank you so so much! You have no idea just how much you helped me understand the situation I am in rationally.

Mary - posted on 04/21/2016

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Your so welcome, I'm glad to help!
While I completely respect how gentle you want to be with what you say to her or how you say it I don't think that your being direct enough with your statement. Of course it is completely up to you, but you have to give how you feel in this situation just as much if not more respect than how she does. Your statement comes off as very passive and I dont know if that will get anything done. You are already helping her, she is more than aware of that. So to come off as trying to do more for her, well that just leaves alot more room for things to continue. My suggestion would be more along the lines of what you said, but I would remove the first part...While "we" are more than happy to have "you" here in our home and are happy to pay for (fill in the blank), we want you to cover (fill in the blank) for yourself. What you want and expect short,sweet and to the point. And you can be direct without being rude or standoffish. Although she is your family this is an agreement between people. She is a grown woman and more than aware of her actions, don't allow yourself to think of her as a little girl. And while I mean NO disrespect twords her, she knows she is kind of taking advantage of a situation and her family by her actions so her "sensitivity" is probably more of a defense mechanism to avoid things like this.

Dalia - posted on 04/20/2016

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Thank you for the great advice!

I feel a mixture of emotions. Guilt because I know we can afford to help but annoyed because she has the ability to care for herself.

While we have the $ today to help I just feel that it should be used toward saving for our future. Our children, our mortgage, our retirement and while groceries, etc isn't a big deal that cost does add up over the next 15+ years she is alive still and with us.

Just needed to know my thoughts are rational and I'm not being insensitive. Also just need to know that this coming from me (and not my husband) isn't inappropriate based on it not being my direct relative.

Starting the conversation with: (insert husband's name) and I would like to help you gain back some of your financial independence as we feel that simple things such as groceries, cleaning supplies, eating out, etc are now going to be your responsibility to cover for yourself. At any time if you run out of something we have or would like something from the pantry/fridge you are always open to having. We just want to have you start being responsible for your own needs aside from overhead costs of the home.

Is that soft enough or should I phrase differently for a very emotional person?

Thank you so much again. I know this is minor in the grand scheme. I just want to handle respectfully.

Mary - posted on 04/20/2016

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Hi Dalia
Your situation sounds tricky. I think that you or your husband could talk to her, or the both of you together. It seems like as the woman of the house you might be better off doing it as you have come here and can clearly communicate the problem. I want to say that expectations should have been set before she moved in, but that isn't helpful. I know exactly how something (fill in the blank) it can be to want to be blunt and clear about what you expect, all the while not hurting someones feelings. But in the end I think it was MORE than loving, caring, helpful, etc for you guys to open your home to her. You should speak to her and be 100% direct, short and sweet, to the point about your expectations. Whatever it is you want and expect then just say that. Don't worry about her feelings, you are not responsible for them. You and your husband have done a great thing for her and you are completely entitled to voice what it is you want as part of that deal. And you are completely correct, you should under no circumstances put yourselves or your children at any disadvantage for the sake of someone else.

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