Caught in a family crisis: Unsure of what to do

*I hope this doesn’t get too long winded, but I also hope I am able to include all pertinent information in this thread. If anyone has any further questions into the developments of this situation I would encourage you to ask them and I will do my best to respond.

Just last week I received a text from my younger sister that she is pregnant. We haven’t been on speaking terms for roughly half a year, so I was a little disenchanted that this was the first news I have received from her in some time. When I asked my parents about what knowledge they had about the situation they told me that they had just found out the day before she had told me.

My sister is 20 years old and has been a rebellious spirit for the past few years. She has been manipulative and has done things that amount to “emotional terrorism” to get her way. I believe she deals with BPD, but it hasn’t been confirmed because she left town shortly before her psychiatric team was able to officially diagnose her with anything (they were looking closely into BPD before she had left). Since she left my parent’s house she moved in with a boy and has become pregnant.

The issue isn’t so much with my sister. I have already come to terms with her and her situation. I still love her and pray for the best for her, but I refuse to fall victim to her life and her attempts at manipulation. If she decides to change one day and wants to reconcile her mistakes I will be there to help. Until then I don’t want to be a part of her life and condone her lifestyle choices.

The issue is with my parents, more specifically, my mother. My parents have had issues with enabling my sister’s poor decisions for a while. They’ve tred to raise her to the best of their abilities but they have fallen to her manipulation on several accounts. My mother believes she is just doing the “nurturing and motherly” thing by doing all of these things, but she doesn’t see how she is just furthering my sister’s reckless choices. How do I tell my mother that she has to deny her motherly instincts- it’s like telling a mother, “you have to be loving, but you just can’t help them right now”. I’ve tried to illustrate to my parents that they don’t owe her anything other than prayer, and food and clothes if she is IN NEED.

We’ve had several discussions and my parents seem a little put-off by my stepping back from the situation.

Sorry if this is a mess of words and thoughts, I just spilled what I was thinking so I’m sure there is more information that I have missed.

What can I do? What should I do?

Yeah, don’t tell your mother what to do. That’s a terrible idea. You’re probably what, in your early to mid 20s? Be an adult. Tell your sister that you’re praying for her and her unborn child. Tell her that you love both of them. It’s not your responsibility to provide her with money or shelter or anything like that. And you shouldn’t enable bad decisions either.

But like Irishmom said, there’s a kid involved now. A real, living, unborn child who is helpless and defenseless. Be there to ensure that the child will have a good shot at life. Love your niece or nephew unconditionally. Let your parents be the parents. You be a good big brother.

My relationship is strong with my parents and it was with my sister until she cut me out of her life.

Well that’s good. But still don’t tell your parents what to do in this situation. Love your sister and love her child. You have no financial obligations here. You do have an obligation to love your family.

Be careful then. You are starting to sound like you are jealous of her getting any attention from your parents.

Why did she cut you out of her life?

How old are you?

Obviously you and your sister are in very different places in life. I get that. My siblings and I are all over the map.

By telling you that she is pregnant she is clearly trying to move forward in a new relationship. She is reaching out for love because she is scared.

I think the best reaction to this would be “Congratulations! Please know I’ll be keeping you and the baby in my prayers.”

It seems that you have very judgmental thoughts toward your sister’s poor choices, which can be easy to fall into (I understand), but it’s important to leave the door open for conversion. Maybe God is using this baby to bring her back to a holier lifestyle. Some people need moments like this to realize they’ve been making mistakes. I would do your best to encourage her to consider speaking to her boyfriend about how they are going to structure their family. Is this worth discussing marriage over? Maybe you can encourage them both to sit down with a priest and discuss all the options (family wise) and look into what counseling may be available.
But take it SLOWLY!!! Jumping right in with “You know you need to get married” is going to turn her off and sound very judgmental. Pray for her. Tell her you are here for her… but don’t be harsh.
She’s putting her foot in the doorway, trying to reopen a relationship… don’t smash her toes in the door!!!

I don’t go to their house and tell them what they have to do. We are a family, so they naturally ask me what my opinions are (since I am the first-born and a loving brother). These family meetings have gone on for some time for various interventions about my sister’s health and psychological dealings.

At one point my parents were going to go into a very ugly legal battle to have her declared a vulnerable adult, but she claimed she would have fought them all the way through the process (her psychologist was fully on board and even helped in the process). They ended up dropping the case because they realized that she didn’t want to be controlled by them and she wanted to live her own life.

When my parents ask me what my views are, I tell them. When they ask me what I think they should do, I tell them. I don’t think they owe her anything anymore and I believe she will continue to use them for their resources until they have no more to give. Many prayers have been sent her way and I think we should all continue to pray for her. I can continue to love my sister without being a part of her unhealthy lifestyle.


Because she is BPD and she cut everyone out of her life when she left. She cut my parents off at the same time. She cut out all of her friends, as well. When we all tried to help her, and it wasn’t the help she wanted, she fled and began to view us all as “against her”.

I am 25

It isn’t that simple when dealing with someone with BPD (and many other health concerns). We have had more family discussions in the past year than most people can conceptualize. We’ve dealt with our priests, her doctors, her psychologists, her psychiatrists all to get her the help she needs… and she still refuses help.

You should do nothing. You’ve decided… wait…** I don’t want to be a part of her life and condone her lifestyle choices…**… so you’ve basically shunned your sister until she starts being whatever you want her to be. So be it. That’s your choice. Yours. What everyone else does is not your business.

How do I tell my mother that she has to deny her motherly instincts-

She has to? Really? You don’t tell her anything, you are out of it, you have placed yourself outside the situation. This is now between her parents and her. BTW, sounds like your sister isn’t the only manipulative child in this family. You actually are asking people here how to manipulate your mother into doing what you, with your huge fund of experience as a parent, think she should.

My sister is 20 years old and has been a rebellious spirit for the past few years. She has been manipulative and has done things that amount to “emotional terrorism” to get her way. I believe she deals with BPD…

So you believe your sister suffers from a major and untreated mental illness, but you also have decided to judge her to the extent you want nothing to do with her until she “makes choices” you approve of. Here’s the thing about being mentally ill: those aren’t usually choices, they are responses to compulsions out of the control of the patient.

It is very common for BPD to manifest itself in late adolescence and escalate until the sufferer either gets treatment, gets incarcerated, or dies. Compulsive sexuality is a feature of BPD. Risky behavior is a classic manifestation. Pressure to speech, “emotional terrorism,” all these things are part of being mentally ill. You think it’s hard being around her? Try being her.

Thank God she has your mom.

Your job is to pray.

Apparently you haven’t read any of my other posts in this thread.

That’s all you can do. You can’t force your parents to do what you want.

Your sister is reaching out to you. No matter how ill she may be, she needs your love and your prayers. That doesn’t mean you have to pretend to agree with her choices, or give her everything she asks for. But she does need to know that her family loves her.

The mentally ill often don’t recognize their illness, don’t know that they need help. So of course our actions in trying to get them treatment, or pursuing legal remedies, etc., looks to them like we’re “against” them. It’s a very difficult situation for both sides.

Josh, pray to St. Dymphna, patroness of the mentally ill, for healing for your sister. Pray that her boyfriend steps up and takes responsibility.

Praying for her is the best thing you can do for her - and for yourself.

Prayers of St Dymphna
Patroness of the Mentally Ill

A Prayer to God in Her Honor

Lord Jesus Christ, You have willed that St. Dymphna should be invoked by thousands of clients as the patroness of nervous and mental disease and have brought it about that her interest in these patients should be an inspiration to and an ideal of charity throughout the world. Grant that, through the prayers of this youthful martyr of purity, those who suffer from nervous and mental illness everywhere on earth may be helped and consoled. I recommend to You in particular (here mention the names of those you wish to pray for).

Be pleased to hear the prayers of St. Dymphna and of Your Blessed Mother. Give those whom I recommend the patience to bear with their affliction and resignation to do Your divine will. Give them the consolation they need and especially the cure they so much desire, if it be Your will. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to Her for Help with Mental Illness
O Virgin and heroic Martyr, we know very little about your origin, but many have learned to invoke you and several have claimed to have been helped. It is said that you remained faithful to your Divine Bridegroom to the end, resisting the lusts of your pagan father and preferring a martyr’s death. Please intercede for (Name), a mental patient, that he/she may give glory to God. Amen.

I’m bipolar, and did the rebellious thing. I also came very close to suicide. Do you want that for her? PRAY. Feeling deserted by family at this time in her life…

And don’t forget your little niece/nephew, growing in her womb. That person also needs your help. The meds I take, and have taken, are all dangerous to babies. Maybe God has insured she is free of them at this time.

Bipolar runs in families. Maybe you should check yourself out.

Praying for you, your sister, your unborn niece/nephew, and your parents,

You sister requires family support even if she doesn’t ‘deserve’ it based on her past actions. It’s a ‘prodigal son’ kind of situation.

People with BPD are a cross for all the family members. There are no winning solutions in dealing with them. Just minimize the damage that she can do to you and realize that she is a sick person and not a mean one, she still deserves love and respect. My suggestion is for you to seek counseling on how to live with someone that has BPD.

This. It’s called COMPASSION. And even if you have to manufacture it for your sister, find some for the new life growing inside her, who is innocent and will need all the help he or she can get.

Yeah, it’s a mess. Your sister may appear to be in the driver’s seat, but she didn’t choose this. You are choosing differently, be grateful that you have that ability. Don’t be jealous that she gets so much attention and more of the family resources. That can be a tough one to let go of, and believe me, I know it first-hand. So did the Prodigal’s older brother. In fact, read that parable in Luke every day. It will help you.

Be as loving as you can, and remember always, the baby who didn’t ask to be born into this situation. Pray, “God, bless her and the baby, and make me as forgiving as Jesus.”

Prayers for you and your family
for peace…

From one sibling of a person with problems to another, you are going to have to get used to it. If your sister was just lazy, then tough love would work. If she really has this disorder, she really can’t do much better than she’s doing. You can’t “tough love” away serious mental disorders or throw your hands up and say, “Come back when you aren’t crazy.” Honestly, if a person COULD be sane, don’t you think they WOULD be? If you parents ask your opinion, (and I don’t know why they would, since that puts you way too much in your sister’s business) I would encourage them to look for resources and ways to help your sister support herself in addition to keeping her from starving and freezing. I would try to encourage your sister to trust you and to let her know that you will be there is she needs you, as long as it isn’t for drugs or something like that.

Jealousy really isn’t the issue here. I don’t chase after attention from my parents. I have my own independent life and my ties within the parish keep me quite busy.

Today, while serving mass I was struck by the gospel reading.

Lk 12: 49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”