More threads by pip


Right. This is a bit weird, so I'll give some back story:

Your typical dysfunctional family, where as the oldest I was responsible for making sure the bills got paid, there was food in the fridge, kids and parents got lunches etc. Mum broke her back when I was in sixth grade, stepdad was just bloody useless, so it sort of fell on me.

I've since moved out, however in doing so I left my younger (14) sister behind. She's always had a few social problems, being the younger than me she was often overlooked, and in my attempts to balance my education with the general well-being of the family, I didn't always have enough time for her. The times we did share were usually spent in my bedroom with us comforting each other after a particularly bad fight with my parents.

I try to keep in touch with her, and we're a lot closer now than we used to be. I'm trying to motivate her to put more emphasis on education: she doesn't think she'll go to University because she simply can't afford it. My parents don't believe that girls need an education at all, and even if they did, my stepdad tends to fritter away whatever little money comes in.

I'm trying to show her there are other options, and if I have to, I'll find some way to pay for her university myself. Right now, she's skipping classes, smoking pot, cigarettes, drinking, cutting, and hanging out with a person I used to know. This guy is...well, we used to go to high school together. He's about a year younger than I am, and used to get off on smacking my ass or commenting and attempting to touch my breasts. He was dating a good friend of mine at the time, and when he hit her, she left him.

She's surrounded by some really awesome people at that school, both teachers and students, as my old friends both on staff and students have made it a point to buy her lunches, invite her out, etc.

I've tried positive reinforcement: letting her know that if she passes all her classes with honours (75+), stops skipping classes and tests clean for drugs at the end of the semester, I'll buy her an ipod (she's been begging for one).

I know she's capable of acheiving honours: her teachers are telling me that on the rare occurances that she does hand in homework she's getting perfect or nearly perfect. She's always done well in school.

Does anyone have any other approaches I could try? Keeping in mind that we only communicate via the internet or phone, and rarely see each other anymore, I'm looking for ways to motivate her to do better. She refuses to see a therapist, and I'm not sure she's ready for me to push it.

I'm afraid that with her issues and the problems she faces at home I may accidentally do more damage than good. I know she'll figure things out for herself and it'll end as soon as she gets away from my parents, but that isn't possible right now, and I'm worried she'll do more damage to herself than she can later fix.


Hi Pip,

That is a difficult situation you are in.

What comes to my mind is two things:

1. What does your sister think herself about what would make her feel better? What does she think she needs herself? What makes her unhappy?

2. Why don't you give it a try to talk with her about your concern? You write you two are close so perhaps she does listen to you and perhaps agrees that some choices have to be made. Otherwise you have to convince her of that.

You are like a distant parent and you have to deal with a dysfunctional home situation of your sister. She is 14 but what you wrote what she is doing (smoking pot, skipping school) things are getting really out of hand.

Confront her. Make an appointment with her, tell her that you two need some serious talk and tell her what your concern is. Talk it over until you feel confident again.

I would not put too much emphasis on school and education right now. The girl also needs a good home to feel steady. The things you describe about her are a result of a dysfunctional home. School seems to be fine.

Can you do something with this?

Added: I would make it a thorough conversation. Take your time and ask for hers. What does she need? What does she miss? Perhaps you come to a point where she agrees that things are not going too well.

Also: is there a possibility that she goes and live somewhere else? She needs guidance and supervision, not two people (your stepfather and your mother) who look the other way.

Share your deep concern, you have the right to do that.


Hi, sorry to hear about the situation you are in.

You are in a similiar situation to me, I will share a little, I hope it helps:

I am also from a dysfunctional family and I am also the oldest child. I pretty much raised my younger siblings. We have all moved out besides my 17 year old sister, she is doing her final year of School and she is unable to get any work done at home and it is not a good environment for her to be in she just can not do anything and so she has fallen into the trap of not handing in work etc... Anyway so what I did was I took her away for 2 weeks, infact the 2 weeks is still going on, she is watching TV in my lounge room right now, I live about 8 hours away from my sister so I can not do a lot as far as hands on help regurarly so taking her away has been great I have had a chance to talk to her, we went to a show together to let our hair down, and she is getting the much needed break from the family.

I dunno if this is an option but it really helped us and I have managed to get my sister to talk about some problems she has because she wasn't threatened by the family because they weren't here and she has been able to relax and be herself by getting away from the stress.

Anyway thought I would share that.


P.S. And I have just managed to get her to counselling as well :)


Thanks for the advice guys.

As for my sister living somewhere else, we've been trying to get that to happen for a while, but my stepdad is one of those highly UNeducated islamic fundamentalist type guys. He believes that a woman't place is in the home, and she shouldn't leave until he sets her up with some guy to get married. You know what I mean, the kind of guy who takes his religious text and screws with it so that he's in control.

My sister leaving just isn't an option.

I've spoken to a couple of my friends and their parents, and we've got a sort of action plan to keep her going, pretty much, one of the parents will call mine and let them know that my sister is participating in a study group, and will be spending a certain number of afternoons and evenings away from my parents 'studying'.

We've actually had the discussion you mentioned Suzette, and she really badly wants to come stay with me. She's loathes herself, to the point where she feels she has to punish herself, and self-harms. Her concerns were somewhat harder for her to pin down, but my impression is that she's just hopeless. She doesn't see an end, and doesn't have much energy to keep fighting.

Talking to her in person is not really an option: I live nearly three hours away by car, and I can't afford a bus ticket.

I know she misses me living at home: when I was there the focus wasn't on her, and although she hated the lack of attention, she's starting to hate that now her every move is scrutinized. She recognises that things are going badly, but she doesn't have the emotional energy to do anything about it.

I can say I empathize with her, and I know things will get better for her if she just gets a taste of life outside that hell, but I don't think it will happen anytime soon, at least not until she's 16 and can leave without them forcing her to come back. I've already assured her she has a place to stay, and I've discussed the legal ramifications with a lawyer: As long as she says she came her by choice, they can't force her to come home. My parents will probably accuse me of kidnapping, but as long as she's present to say that she came here by choice, and she buys the ticket, I should be okay.

I'm trying to convince her that there IS an end, and it is within reach, but she's throwing it all away right now.


Hi Pip,

I understand that until she is 16 she cannot leave there.

Can you convince her she needs a therapist? She needs someone living relatively close to her who helps her with her anger. Now she gets very much depressed.

I think she needs professional help to get through this and perhaps the therapist can help you and her to find a solution. If your sister does not want to live there anymore because it is killing her then try to find a solution. There must be an option. I would say: go for it, whatever it may bring. Ring the bell and take a stand, anything is better than this.

And if that means that you even have to fight verbally with your stepdad, well, I would take that opportunity to tell both your stepdad and your mother, what they are actually doing here.

Aren't there any organizations who deal with these situations? A therapist should know.
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I'm actually speaking with a lawyer right now regarding what I can and can't do about some of the issues with my parents and whatnot. We're trying to get my parents to relinquish custody over her to my grandmother.

In the mean time, I've a restraining order against both my parents, so talking with them is NOT an option. From past experience, it rarely works as my stepdad is the kind of man who 'demands respect', and defines it by how quickly and quietly you do what he orders.

My parents are in control of my sister's mental health, meaning if they don't like what the therapist says, then she gets a new therapist.

Until I threatened one 'counsellor' with reporting him to the authorities for not having a license, she was seeing one who convinced her that my parents were just disciplining her, and that I was a horrible person for leaving.

I'm meeting with the lawyer at the end of the week to see if maybe we can get her emancipated, but I'm not sure if that's possible in Canada, and if it is, how to go about doing it, or if she even qualifies.

I've been actively fighting for a reform within Children's Aid, focussing in particular on a couple social workers, who despite bruises and broken bones, and the filth my sister lives in, refuse to acknowledge there is a problem, almost as if they're burnt out and just don't care.

I'm good friends with her school counsellor, who is trying to get her to come in for her appointments, however she's just skipping them.

I think she's just disillusioned with the entire mental health system, as it annoys her to no end when I talk about wanting to be a psych. I'm not sure I can convince her that talking to someone without my parents approval or knowledge is worth the possible repercussions.


Hello Pip,

It is not my habit not to respond anymore to topics I am thinking along with. But due to things that happen in my life since some weeks I cannot concentrate enough. I am sorry I have to leave it at this.



hey I just wanted to say that it sounds like you're doing everything in your power to help your sister. having been in her shoes, I think the most important thing is for her to know that you are there for her no matter what. if that means that she can call you up to talk to for hrs, or call you in the middle of the night, or just have you listen to her, or ask you for advice... it all helps to reassure her you're a person of trust in her life. don't just tell her but try to show her by keeping in touch as much as you can and don't get mad when she does things you don't approve of (I'm not saying you do, these are just general comments). good luck w/ everything!
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