Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My younger daughter came to me with a problem but then disagreed
with my advice. W agreed to put it before you and abide by what you
suggest. Jessica is married for two year to her boyfriend of six. They’re
both in there twenties. His sister, same age, is a loser plain and
simple. She hasn’t managed to hold onto even a part time job as a
barista and hasn’t paid the rent on an apartment for two years/ She
does occasional houseitting when her parents or their friends travel,
but mostly crashes with friends and with my daughter and her
husband, who have a new baby. We’ve started referring to the sister-
in-law as aunty sticky fingers. She doesn’t steal things per se but she
seems have no concept of private property. The finals straw for me
was when she took unworn Hanukah gifts that were still in their stores
bags for a party and came home two days later without some of them,
which she “thinks are at a friend’s.” These were special gifts I had
ordered for my daughter and they were attractive and expensive.
That’s illustrative. Your column isn’t long enough to list hr
transgressions. She pays no rent, does no baby-sitting, and doesn’t
even clean up her own dishes. My son in law is a sweet guy, and a
little bit of a shlub. So he’s not going to step in on his own. I know I
can’t take back her key, but if I ran the world, I would. What say you?
I believe in private property. I believe in responsibility, accountability,
and boundaries. It’s time to put them all into effect. Actually past
time, but now’s better than later. Have your daughter try to inventory
what’s missing. Then have her sit down with her husband to agree on
a plan. He may be a schlubb but she is his wife and the mother of his
child. He’ll agree with a little pressure.
Step one would be to meet with the sister-in- law and say, Please
retrieve these items from whatever friend’s home where you may have
left them. They’re mine and I care about respecting me and my things,
including my home. It’s unlikely she will be able to do so, but the very
process of asking (and likely re-asking, re-asking, and re-asking) will
begin to penetrate her sense of entitlement. If you’re lucky some
things may return. Next, tell her that your drop-in motel is changing
its policies. Say she is welcome to stay at your home up to two
evenings a week, with pre-arranged scheduling. Tell her staying there
includes responsibility for helping with household chores. I wouldn’t
trust a baby in her care, so not having her baby-sit may be a blessing.
Either put a lock on your closet and don’t give her a key, or tell her
she is not allowed to borrow anything. As in zero, nothing, nada, zilch.
If she acts like an adult, and nothing vanishes you may choose to
continue this for a while, If not, retrieve her key and tell her that she’s
welcome to come for family dinners and special occasions, but that the
welcome mat has been withdrawn until she grows up. She can try to
pull this **** on her own parents.