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My Cousin Is Taking Advantage Of My Mom

Dear Sugar
About a month ago, my aunt passed away and my older cousin moved in with us. My mom is in the middle of building a new house so money has been a little tight. My cousin has no respect for watching her spending habits and is constantly buying clothes, makeup, etc... It makes me furious when she takes my mom’s credit card and spends frivolously when everyone else in the family is making a conscience effort to save.

Since my mom has been so busy and stressed out with our new house, she has asked us to pitch in and help with household chores. While I have been trying to support my mom and keep the house tidy, my cousin is a lazy slob. She leaves her things all over the house and never even makes her bed. My mom has had numerous conversations with her but she just won't change. I am so frustrated with her attitude. Fed up Fiona

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Dear Fed Up Fiona
I am so very sorry for your loss. Your mom certainly has been compassionate and gracious to open her home to your cousin, and I can completely understand your frustration. Your cousin should be respecting your mother’s wishes instead of being a couch potato. However, try and give her some time before you take a stand with her.

Since her tragic loss, she could be acting out as a form of rebellion. It could be to gain attention, sympathy or maybe she's feeling angry right now and just doesn't feel that all of the rules apply to her right now. Has your mom taken the credit card away from her? Have there been any repercussions to her actions?

In time, if she continues to keep this up, then maybe you should talk to her and fill her in with what's going on with your mom, the new house etc. Gently let her know that you understand that she will be mourning for a long time, but that if she could be more considerate it would make this easier on everyone. Explain the house rules in a non-threatening way.

Also, be sure and let her know that you are always there for her whenever she wants to talk. Once you open the lines of communication with her, hopefully you can come to a middle ground and find a way to co-habitate.

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