I need unbiased advice

I need help from people I respect who are removed from the situation. Here goes.

My sister, we will call her H for clarity, lives in my mothers home with my Mom who has Huntington’s disease and is dying of lung cancer. H gets the house when Mom dies with the blessing of my brother, other sister and me.

H married a man none of us can stand three years ago. He is a bully as well as arrogant, mentally abusive, loud, coarse, ill mannered, manipulative and a drunk (alcoholics go to meetings). He and his children, now aged 17 and 15, moved into my mothers house. My Mom still pays the taxes, water and electric bills (another issue that makes me furious, but moving on…)

So, in the 4 bedroom house we have my Mom in the master bedroom/bathroom, the two stepchildren, her husband and H’s 6 year old son.

The issue at hand…

The 17 year old stepdaughter was caught at her high school in an altered state with my Mom’s medications packaged for distribution. The medications included some stuff she was taking for the mistaken Parkinson’s diagnosis she had for five years and a lot of narcotic pain medication following the C1 neck break and subsequent repair. The kid was suspended from school, but her dad did NOTHING to punish her, nor did he require any restitution.

The stepdaughter is smoking in the room next door to my Mom, (who is on continuous 4 liters oxygen and dying of lung cancer under Hospice Care, along with the Huntingtons).

My other sister found a Pot Pipe on the front porch last week.

H’s husband routinely leaves the 6 year old home alone with my Mom who cannot walk more than 4 steps.

Either the husband or the stepdaughter has stolen at least 400.00 cash from Mom’s wallet over the past two years. They have been caught and the money returned, but the fact is it was taken. My Mom has started wearing all her good jewelry (she does not have much) because a gold necklace my dad had given her and her mother’s wedding rings went missing. My other sister has put the pearls in the save deposit box and now keeps Mom’s wallet, band cards and check books as well as all financial information at her home. I have taken what is left of the silver to my house along the my Dad’s coin collection.

At one point the husband convinced my Mom it would be easier to do the banking online, but we stopped that when Mom ended up “accidentally” paying all the bills for a couple of months.

I have talked to H. She is depressed and angry, but for some reason still loves the guy, but hates the stepdaughter. She feels alone and spends lots of time in Mom’s room with Mom and her 6 year old son. She does not want to end the marriage and kick the bum out.

My question…

I have told the husband and H that if any more illegal crap goes on in my Mom’s house, I am calling the police, hoping that he (the custodial parent), and not my sister, will be held responsible for the out of control teenager and her actions, not to mention the underhanded stuff the husband pulls. Do I need to consult an attorney before I do this? It is only a matter of time.

Thank you in advance. I know I can count on OPM for some level headed advice and insight.

I don’t have a lot of legal advice to offer, but you certainly have my empathy. That sounds like an incredibly frustrating situation.

I’d definitely double-check with an attourney regarding liability and such. I’m not sure that all of the blame would land on the husband, rather than your sister or even mom.

Either way, it would probably pay to explicitly record every instance of the things you’ve mentioned, if you haven’t been doing that already. Worse comes to worst, “On May 23, 2007, XYZ happened” is more convincing than “He’s a jerk.”

Just as there is child protective services for children who are suspected of being the victims of abuse, there are also elder abuse hotlines that can be notified if a disabled adult is a victim. Smoking in a home where someone is on oxygen is endangerment. I suggest you find these folks and talk to them.

I don’t know why anyone but the child and custodial parent would be held legally responsible for their actions, so it seems unlikely that your mom could be legally entangled if you call the cops on crap being done by the 17-year-old… but I’m not a lawyer, so this is just a gut sense.

You may consider obtaining the services of a forensic accountant if you think that H’s husband has been mucking around in your mother’s accounts. I don’t know how you find one but I bet a divorce attorney / family lawyer would know.

None of this is easy. I am really sorry.


Call the police, get a court order to get the lot of them kicked out–your sister and the scum she invited into that house. Your mother deserves far better. Absolutely unbelievable.

My 2 cents.

Thanks guys, both for reading the long, sordid story and allowing me to vent. I have several attorney friends one of whom advised me yesterday to “protect my Mom”. My sister H is guilty of inviting the criminal element in, but at this moment still loves the guy a little bit, is nonconfrontational and an enabler. “He is nicer when he is drunk”… (all children of alcoholics will understand this…) and she is not currently financially able to support herself and her child. She quit her job with benefits at the request of her husband about one year ago and looking back at that, I think it was probably a manipulative move on his part although it did not seem like that at the time. I talked to H again yesterday and she is fed up, but is giving the husband until February (When the ungrateful stepdaughter turns 18) to kick her out. If he does not support her in this at that time, and history says he will not, then he and his children are out. The latest wrinkle… I am training her to do my job (medical transcription for a local hematologist/oncologist) and will be job sharing with her for a few months until I start the prerequisites that will strain my brain. She has purchased a computer for herself and banned the children from it, but yesterday the 17 year old was on it visiting various websites and My Space (shudder) with her Dad’s blessing because “H’s computer is faster than that piece of crap we have to use” (the one-year old Dell PC). I am so proud of my sister for locking ALL out of her new computer, including her husband.

So, the craziness continues over there, but with a glimmer of hope. I have offered my Mom a room in my home, but she wants to die in her home “in her own litterbox” (her words) and I have to respect that.


Very true. I have a log of specific things/dates that have happened, such as the drug theft and money taken out of Mom’s wallet, but the timeframe of the theft of personal items from the home is less clearcut. My other sister and I are in the process of slowly removing all items that have sentimental or monetary value from the house and storing them in our homes. My Mom supports us in this, but it is very sad for her. My brother is also on board, but he lives out of state and has his own screwy relationship to deal with… SHEESH…

Please don’t hate me for saying this…

I really HATE to call attention to this, but when you accept your sister’s excuses for her sorrya$$ husband, YOU are also being an enabler. February is a long, long way away. Who knows how much time your mother has left? Why should she live in this situation until then? I’m sorry, I really don’t think that’s a very good alternative.

I think you’d be well-served to get some therapeutic advice from someone who can help you with the ways in which you’re entangled and enmeshed in this situation. How, when and where you can get such help will be the tough dilemma - but a few good sessions with an LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) might help you see things from a different perspective. As with any family mess, you’re too close to it to see how much you’re part of it. Help for YOU will help your mom, too.

Good luck with all of this. It is desperately sad.


Hi Mary. It takes a lot of energy to hate and it is not really in my nature. What you have said is true, I am an enabler too, so no apologies necessary. It gets more complicated as Mom cannot live alone and the rest of us are not in a position to move in with her. So, do we do what needs to be done, kick all the bums out with consequence that Mom has to move, or make sure they all know we are watching and never leave Mom alone with the theives? More good news, the 17 year old is moving in with a friend about half an hour away for for the school year, so she will be out of the house

Well you are in btw the rock and the hard place…it seems that your options are NONE but to let these folks keep living there…of course unless somebody else moves in with your mother OR you move your mother to another place…Although this situation does suck at least your mom IS in her own home albeit with not so desirable folks. Good luck.