DEAR AMY: My much younger sister and her husband recently decided to purchase the home next door to my husband and me. My husband was not happy about this. He thinks they are “cheap,” and “moochers.” (They do have that reputation in the family.) He feels they should’ve asked us before making the offer on the house next to us. My husband told me that he is not going to start “giving them things” or “letting them mooch” just because they are our neighbors now, and that he wants to remain firm. Within a day of them moving into their new house, they asked us for our Wi-Fi password. My husband told them no. A few days later, they asked for a whole list of household items. My husband said no to all of it. My sister came to me, saying that they were hurt and confused by my husband saying no. Amy, I caved and gave her everything she asked for, including the password. My husband was furious and said that I enable this sort of behavior. My feeling is that we are neighbors now, so why start the relationship off on the wrong foot? Yes, they can be demanding, but I love my sister, and if I can help her, I feel like we should. Am I wrong here?
DEAR KEEPER: Yes, I’d say you are wrong to share your Wi-Fi password with your sister-neighbor. The neighbors’ internet use could compromise the speed in your own home, and depending on their use (and your plan), could cause you to have overages. They could decide to share the password with others. And if/when your internet goes down, they will come knocking on your door to reset your router.
If you have used this same password for any other accounts, you should reset, and make sure it is only dedicated to the Wi-Fi.
The main issue here is not with your sister’s predictable behavior, but with your marriage. On the one hand, your husband seems to have laid down the law without discussing it with you. On the other, you have chosen to completely disregard his decision without telling him.
I’m all for family members (and neighbors) helping each other, but your sister just moved in next door, and already your marriage has been affected. This is mooching to the extreme, because these neighbors seem to have taken your spousal trust in one another. I hope you get it back.
Moochers need enablers to thrive. You should develop some healthy parameters soon, because you are on your way to becoming your sister’s keeper.
DEAR AMY: I have two daughters in their 20s. When I was going through the divorce with their father a decade ago, I received legal papers from another woman who was suing him for child support. Apparently, he’d had a child with her. I don’t know if my ex-husband is aware that I know this. We have both since moved on, and are remarried to other people. My daughters don’t know they have a sister. I always thought that when they were old enough, they should be told. I know they would be thrilled to know her. I don’t, however, know how this other girl’s mother feels about it. I know my ex does not have a relationship with this child, who is probably a pre-teen now. I’m torn about disclosing this.
DEAR TORN: Your daughters should be told that they have a sister. They should be told because it is true. This is not a dilemma where the knowledge of it will ruin people’s lives; this is simply something that is true that they should know about.
You should start with your ex-husband. Tell him that this has been weighing heavily on you and that you feel strongly that your daughters should be told. Give him the opportunity to find a way to tell them. If he declines, then you should tell them yourself, answering as many questions as you can. The other child’s mother will be in a position to either welcome or inhibit a relationship between these siblings.
DEAR AMY: Shame on the nosy grandmother who discovered the grandsons’ pot stash during a visit (“Grounded Dad”). She has broken any confidence of the boys, in fact the whole family, first by snooping while a guest in the kids’ room, and second by ignoring the request of the father to let him handle it. She would not be welcome in our house.
Not a Snooper
DEAR NOT: I agree.