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Long-Running Family Joke Is No Laughing Matter for Sister

DEAR ABBY: I'm in my early 20s, and my 18-year-old sister, "Judy," is attending community college. All my memories of her consist of her putting me down. We reconciled just as I was moving out.

Abby, she is extremely dependent on the family. She cannot do for herself. If I refuse to help her, I am told by my family that I'm selfish or a "b----." They have a running joke that she's going to live with me and be dependent on me when our parents die. I have heard that Judy is actually OK with it and looks forward to the day I can support her.

I have tried pointing out that it's neither healthy nor realistic, and her issues aren't my fault, but again, I am put down. They say we're family and it's my job to take care of her. But when did family become a job? -- OVERWHELMED SISTER

DEAR OVERWHELMED SISTER: Rather than listen to hearsay, ask your sister directly if she expects you to support her in years to come, because it may not be true. However, if it is, she needs to hear firsthand that it's not going to happen.

If your parents truly believe that your sister will not become self-sufficient, point out to them that they had better start putting money into a trust for her, if they haven't already, and name a trustee other than you. Being her caretaker is not your job, and you should not allow yourself to be bullied, shamed or ridiculed into agreeing to it.

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