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You Asked: Should I Stay Out of it?

Dear Sugar--

My daughter, who is 39, is married with 2 daughters. They have decided to do a major addition to their home BUT they want free help from her brother, my son who is a contractor. At the same time, they are going on a big trip and expect my son to do most work while they're gone. There has been no mention of any pay and in return, my son throws off his frustration at my husband and I by being moody and feeling taken advantage of by his sister. Should we discuss this with him? Should I say something to my daughter about paying her brother for his hard work or should I just stay out of it and keep my mouth shut? -- Butting in Betty

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Butting in Betty --

From the sounds of it, you're stuck in the middle of what could be the start of a family feud. Are you sure you know all the details? Could they have worked out some sort of deal that you are unaware of? If your daughter hasn't offered to pay monetarily, could she be scratching his back in another way so to speak? Perhaps babysitting, or could his work on the house be pay back from a previous deal they made with each other?

Although you are their mother, and it's your second nature to want to make everything OK in your family, I advise you to stay out of this one. Your kids are grown adults who can make their own decisions so getting in the middle is bound to stir the pot even thicker. If your son is taking his anger out on you and your husband, I think it's more than fair and appropriate to address that, but do so in a neutral manner - don't take or play favorites, rather let him know you don't appreciate being the brunt of his misdirected frustration.

Hopefully your kids can work this one out without involving mom and dad and you can soon get back to being a nice big happy family! Good luck.


Join The Conversation
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 10 years
If he is a big boy, and thinks its unfair, let him speak up for himself! CUT THE CORD
leigha926 leigha926 10 years
i agree with dear as well. great advice.
EatYourVeggies EatYourVeggies 10 years
I disagree. I guess it's just my personal beliefs about families being close, but I think you should say something to your children. You're their mother and you will always be able to give advice on what you think they should do right, no matter how old they are. It's unfair to your son for his sister to be completely taking advantage of him without so much as an offer to compensate him. At the same time, your son should not be reflecting his feelings towards his sister onto you and your husband- he should stand up for himself. You should speak to both of them separately before the situation worsens.
Bukalala Bukalala 10 years
Dear Sugar gave some good advice. When my mom tries to rectify things with my sister and me, she plays Devil's Advocate a lot without realizing it.
barjar1122 barjar1122 10 years
tell your son if he has something to say, SAY IT. He can say I'll wait til you get back from vacation so you can help.
kimbit kimbit 10 years
One of my friends had her brother in law do some contracting for her at a discounted rate for her, but they never really discussed the payment and didn't have a contract and he didn't finish the job on time, constantly stood her up for appointments, and generally was a nightmare to deal with. For the sake of your daughter and your son, even though they are family, they should have some sort of formal agreement before they start. Their relationship will be dominated by this if they don't straighten it out before the work starts. For your daughter if he doesn't do the job correctly and for your son resenting being taken advantage of by his sister.
Greggie Greggie 10 years
Good point, bfly. For all we know, the daughter IS planning to pay - it only says "there's been no mention" of payment. He may have never asked, either.
bfly1133 bfly1133 10 years
The thing to remember here is that mom is only hearing one side of the story. I don't think there is anything wrong with encouraging the son to talk to his sister about his feelings. But that is as far as it should go.
sparklestar sparklestar 10 years
Interfere! Did you raise her to be an ungrateful madam or what??
arrhythmia arrhythmia 10 years
i hate to admit it, but i take advantage of my sister all the time (i'm younger). it's what family members do and they never realizing they're doing it until you tell them! just give your daughter a gentle reminder about his hardwork and willingness to help her out. :)
Greggie Greggie 10 years
I agree with Yo - the kids need to handle it, but the son needs encouragement to face it himself. I wouldn't even dream of confronting the daughter, it's not your place. And if your son isn't willing to confront, that's on his shoulders, not yours. You can't "not let" him do it, he's an adult and makes his own decisions.
auddie auddie 10 years
I say interfere and talk to both of them. I'd try to get them to work it out between themselves, but suggest what they should do here. Family members have a habit of forgetting how valuable their family is when it comes to these matters. There is a huge difference between helping with a small project (installing shelves) and a massive job such as an addition. Your daughter might be severely underestimating how much work this is for your son, and how much is costing your son to do this for free. It's not just the loss in revenue from her, but the loss from other paying jobs he could be doing at the same time.
Princess-Rebecca Princess-Rebecca 10 years
Yes, you should discuss this. And your daughter is very wrong not wanting to pay her bother. She could get a discount maybe, that's okay... But no no no don't let him do it for free. I guess your daughter at that age should know that nohting is free in this world and I don't think we are talking about a small amount of money. Maybe you shoudl bring this up with your daughter, call her right now.
Yo Yo 10 years
I think since mom and dad are already being pulled in by sons mood, they need to encourage him to talk to his sister. If he does not want to be taken advantage of then he needs to tell her and set a price for the work. Before he starts!
millarci millarci 10 years
I agree with DearSugar. As much as you want to help your son out, you really should stay out of it. When third parties get involved (especially family), it gets ugly. Your son is a grown man and he will have to make that decision. Personally, I hope he asks for some type of monetary compensation. It would be ashame if he did all that work and got nothing for it (even if it is for family).
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