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Dear Dania: My Sister Keeps Asking for Money

Dear Dania

I am 35 years old and I have an older sister (41) who has always been poor with managing her own finances and she often spent money that she didn’t have. 

Most recently, her trouble with money has started to impact our relationship (which is a complicated one anyway) as she was expecting me to lend her money (a few hundreds). I said I wouldn’t do so as I couldn’t see that her finances will improve and also I felt fed up with being her safety net for any financially risky behaviour leading her to be in debts. 

Would you say that lending money to a close relative is a “must do” and that it’s morally wrong to decline when you’re asked to help? 




Dear Charlotte*,

Thank you for your letter.

I am sorry to hear that you have found yourself in this incredibly difficult position. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say or do when it comes to family, especially when it involves money. Do I help, knowing that I may feel burdened, or do I choose to not lend a hand which may damage our relationship further? Since you chose the latter, perhaps it’s time to identify some of the residual feelings which you are now left with.

You mentioned that you are “fed up of being her safety net”. It seems that lending her money might have deepened the resentment that you may be feeling. Make no mistake – when left unattended, the burning logs can lead to a devastating wildfire, leaving nothing but decay behind. It sounds as though you made the extremely tough decision of putting your needs first in order to protect your own well-being and energy. However, I suspect that you have also been trying to save this complicated relationship from being engulfed by the disastrous flames of resentment. Am I right? Regardless of the reason, you did what was right for you.

I don’t believe that there are “must-dos” when it comes to helping friends and family, and I certainly don’t believe that anyone has the right to tell you whether you were “right” or “wrong”. Ultimately no one walks in your shoes, therefore they cannot cast judgement on your decisions. However, I wonder whether you may be feeling critical of yourself, as though Guilt is looking down with a disapproving look.

If so, these are some questions that you could ask yourself when Guilt is in the room:

  • Yes, being there for our loved ones is great but should it come at my own detriment?
  • Am I to be taken advantage of as a way to keep the peace in the family?
  • Can I help out in ways that won’t affect my well-being? (E.g. giving my sister advice on what to do, helping her do some research on local debt-advisors)
  • Am I wrong for wanting my sister to gain the skills to save herself?

It’s a painful realisation we come to as the years go by – having to accept that our loved ones may never change their maladaptive habits. So, do we run after them, ready to catch them when they fall? Or, do we let them go? The choice is yours.

For more information/tips please click here or alternatively you may want to consider seeking for more specific, long-term help from a therapist.

I wish you all the best.

Your sincerely,


Dear Dania is for informational purposes only, Always seek the advice of a mental-health professional, or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. We may edit your letter for length and/or clarity.

*The author’s identifying details have been changed in order to protect their privacy.

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