Helping Brother's Ex Has Caused Family Rift
Dear Annie: My brother was with his ex-wife, "Liz," for 13 years. They raised three wonderful children together until she left my brother. They've been divorced five years now. I've been the middle person in her and my brother's relationship ever since. Recently, I moved Liz in with me, along with her newborn son. She did not have adequate housing to go to, and she would have had her newborn taken from her if she did not have a safe place to live.
I moved them in with me knowing my brother and his wife would be very upset. I did it anyway because I thought it was the right thing to do.
Liz had many struggles with drugs after leaving my brother. Yes, she's made a lot of mistakes. On a positive note, I believe that getting pregnant woke her up, and she's been clean for well over a year. I believe sometimes love and guidance are necessary to help someone be able to change for good.
My brother and his wife are mad at me beyond belief. They won't let me see my nephews who live with them. (My brother and his new wife have custody of the three children whom he and Liz had together.) I helped them raise those children and his new wife's children from a previous relationship. I've also loaned him a great deal of money that he hasn't paid back.
The other day, he said that I am no longer a sister to him but an enemy. We've always been close, so this is really tough. He hates me now and won't so much as talk to me. I've tried to explain to them that I did what I thought was right.
My heart is hurt. What do you think I should do to make things better? Will they ever get better? -- Sister in Sorrow
Dear Sister: Never feel bad for acting your conscience, no matter the blowback. Liz became family to you when she married your brother, and you've continued to treat her like family even after their divorce. To me, that shows you have a big heart.
Your brother does not hate you, but I know that doesn't make the words sting any less. I hope that, in time, as the dust of his anger settles, he can see the situation more clearly. In the meantime, take solace in knowing you've done the right thing in helping Liz and her newborn baby.
Dear Annie: Please allow me to add to your advice to "Concerned in Vestavia." This parent should indeed keep their child from being in such an environment, but what "Reba" and her daughter are doing could be considered a form of elder abuse, specifically financial exploitation. It is a crime for which Reba can be prosecuted in most states. I hope this parent will report what is happening to the authorities where she lives. -- Ruth in Memphis
Dear Ruth: I missed the boat in my response, and I'm glad to print your letter to correct the record. Thanks for writing.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.