janetnc's picture

Nearly 18 and doesn't want to move with parents

So first I want to be clear that I am the daughter in law in this situation. My husband has a 17 year old sister (rather large age gap between the two siblings) to whom we are both very close. She turns eighteen in August. Thus far I have not involved myself directly in what is shaping up to be a very stressful situation for us all. Typically I am the first to "throw my chips in" with my in laws and call her on acting like a brat, being disrespectful, unreasonable, etc despite the sisterly relationship we have together. But in this particular situation, I think they may be making a mistake with very real consequences for our entire family.

My father in law was laid off last year and, after no luck finding something locally, he got a new job in the Midwest. My sister in law is 17 and graduates from high school in May. She has already been accepted in to one of the top universities here and really wanted to go there.

My father in law has already moved to start working and my mother in law will join him in June. Her parents are insisting that she move across the country with them and continue living at home for the foreseeable future while attending whatever college she can get into there.

My in-laws, seemingly my mother in law in particular, seems completely set on making my sister in a law move across the country with them, three months before her eighteenth birthday.

I feel like my mother in law is being very vicious towards her about college and the possibility of staying here. Every moment of excitement my sister in law experienced in the acceptance process was brought down by my mother in law's very negative attitude. In all the family discussions over the holiday her parents discussed her moving with them like it was decided fact and that really made her very angry.

My sister in law is completely heart broken over this whole thing. She feels like she is having to decide between maintaining a relationship with her parents, and effectively doing exactly what they want her to do or follow her heart and stay where the rest of her friends and family are and attend her dream college here.

I have not said anything to my in laws about any of this, and I respect their right to make decisions about their own child. But I am afraid they just don't realize that she is set on staying here and attending the university she had her heart set on. Yes, they do have control over her until her eighteenth birthday, but after that I think she is going to either turn on them and come back on her own, or stay there and harbor huge resentment.

In my in laws defense, my sister in law is not the most mature, in she can be down right spoiled. But I think it is because her parents made her that way. She is not a bad kid. There is a huge age gap between her and my husband. He grew up with parents who were struggling for everything because they were so young. But with his sister, they were older and upper middle class. It seems like my father in law has tried to make up for what he couldn't give his son growing up. Sister in law has never had a job, dad bought her two really nice cars, new cell phones every year, lots of spending money, and a huge house with her own room and bath. Mother in law does all her laundry, all the house work, all the cooking and she never lifts a finger. Her parents have thought for a while that she needs to spend another year or so in the house before moving out because she "is not ready to be on her own yet". But husband and I don't understand how she is going to be anymore prepared in another year of how they treat her. Plus that extra time at home has way bigger implications when it is across the country and uproots her whole life.

chjmk's picture
Are you a parent? If you are, parenting a young child is so much different than parenting a teen. I'm putting myself in your in-law's position because I have 2 kids in college. It is a very hard time to navigate. There's a whole dynamic at work that is beyond logical. Your sister in law is not a victim. She's an almost adult. Part of growing up is learning to talk to parents and come up with goals and plans that are concrete, so we parents can let go with confidence. It also takes maturity to step out on your own and find your own path with or without support. Also, if your in-laws are paying, they deserve some say in where she attends. It will work out. Everyone will live thru the move and there's no ONE future at this point that will guarantee happiness-- it's all very fluid and the world is her oyster. Just be supportive-- or as quiet as you can be, lol
almondeyes's picture
I think that your parents-in-law are not confident to let her go because of her luck of maturity. She might not be mature, but having her stay with them will not be helpful . She needs to learn to depend on herself and think for herself. Having her stay with them just prolongs the inevitable. Being on her own and learning how to take care of herself will make her appreciate what her parents have done for her. They need to let her go and follow her dreams. Your sister in law needs to learn how to plead her case maturely so that she can give her parents the confidence that she is on the right track. I always remind my kids to think a hundred times before they make a decision and make sure that they can live and deal with the consequences of their actions. That parents can only commiserate in time of pain but parents can never take away the pain from their kids. She will be accountable for all her actions and she alone will bear the consequences.