Don’t do anything rash when handling family

Published 2:21 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Nice Advice by Leah Albert

Dear Leah,

My brother-in-law, who lives with my sister in another state, has been spending the past few weeks in town. His father had to go into assisted living, and he is in town to ready his childhood home for sale to pay for his father’s care.

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The plan was for him to stay in that house, do repairs and make it ready for an estate sale and the sale of the property. That plan was foiled by his estranged, crazy (on so many levels) sister when she gained access to the house, moved in and is squatting. She maintains she has the right to live permanently in the house.

Leah Albert

Leah Albert

My brother-in-law, fearing for his health, safety and sanity, asked if he could stay with me. I was happy to welcome him — at first. 

I thought it would be only a week. Then it was two. I want to tell them to find someplace else to stay, but I want to have a close relationship with my sister.

I’m sorry for their situation, but I feel they are taking advantage of me. I’m afraid if I say anything it will set back our relationship, but do I really want a relationship with these people?

The cost is higher than I ever imagined and I’m dreading my water bill!

What should I do?

Signed, Trapped


Dear Trapped,

It’s true what Benjamin Franklin said: “Fish and visitors smell after three days.”

Yes, you really do want a relationship with these people. They are family. So though it is uncomfortable now, I suggest you do your best to get through this uncomfortable period as amicably as possible for the next few weeks. If you want to mention to your sister and your brother-in-law that the whole situation is making you a little crazy, I think that makes sense. It’s no doubt making them crazy, too.

It is apparent that you don’t know each other very well and are responding to some very disruptive elements. So that’s going to make it hard and at times you might feel a little crazy. Try to do the best you can with the disruptions. When parents can no longer care for themselves it causes disruptions that ripple outward. Everyone has to try to pull together and put their own needs aside for a bit.

My advice is to not do anything rash, and try to live with each other one day at a time as you figure out how all the pieces of this puzzle will fit together.

If you do that, I think that solutions will appear. You need to preserve the peace, though, so that you can engage in productive dialogue. Take care!

Sincerely, Leah


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at