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HORIZON HOME CARE BLOG

Sibling Is Stealing from Parent

Question: 

My sister is taking things from my mother’s home, which is extremely upsetting to the rest of us. Sometimes Mother gives her the items, though we suspect she asked for them. Other times the items are simply missing from my mother’s home.

My sister has a history of feeling entitled to things. She feels her childhood was not to her liking, and she has not fared well in adult life either. We are now all expected to feel sorry for her and let her do whatever she wants. Frankly, we are sick of the way she behaves. We are also worried about upsetting mother. Do you have any ideas on how to resolve this?
 

Answer:

I certainly do not know what happened to your sister when she was a child or what is driving her behavior in adult life. You are not alone, as this is a surprisingly common issue for caregiving families. She is no more entitled to your mother’s possessions than you are. With that said, your mother is free to do with her possessions as she wishes. Your mother may feel sorry for her or have a desire to help her, perhaps because the remaining children do not need her help.

The conflict here is likely that your sister is blaming her childhood circumstances for her lot in life. If the remaining siblings are more successful or affluent, she may feel that you do not need or desire Mother’s possessions. In that way, she rationalizes getting your mother to give her items. If Mother has memory issues, she is taking advantage of the situation and hoping the rest of you will not notice, not care, or be unwilling to confront her.

It is time to bring the topic out into the open, in front of Mom. Know that resolution of this situation is not painless, and it will be an uncomfortable situation. But think of it this way, this is no different from how you already feel.

Your mother needs to know that the rest of you feel slighted. It is okay for you to ask Mother what her intent is for distribution of her possessions. You can do this privately or with your sister present. Be prepared for your sister to be dramatic when this is brought up. None of us like to be called on our behavior, especially if it sounds like we were underhanded.  Your sister may hold it against you for the rest of her life - or for a very long time at a minimum. Understand that you are not making the decision to take things from your mother, your sister is.
 
If your mother defends giving her possessions to your sister, you have your answer. It will be uncomfortable, just like it is now, and you will need to find a way to make peace with her decision. If Mother is past the point of making competent decisions, it may take a lawyer to sort things out if valuable items and large sums of cash are going out.
 
I wish you the best.
 

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