Seeking advice from Mothers - concerned for my siblings' well-being
I'm not a Mom & could really use some advice on what to do regarding my 3 younger siblings' safety & overall well-being. I am their only advocate with a real voice because other family members become excommunicated when they speak out or criticize my parents, express concerns etc. However, I'm their adult child (I'm 23) so thankfully they don't shut me out, even if they don't like how I feel or what I have to say. So I feel I'm in a unique position to make an impact/change. I want to advocate for my siblings and give them a voice because I know they deserve a better life.
My step-mom was caught secretly stealing hundreds of dollars slowly over time from both my Dad & 18 year old brother's
bank accts. She's also been caught stealing Rx pain pills from my Dad & stealing my ADHD pills. All of this was discovered around the same time frame.
GOAL: I need to establish whether things in their household are bad enough to warrant calling Child Protective Services or if their situation is just not "ideal" & thats a reality I should accept and just support the kids as best I can. I just want them to get the chance to grow up in their home together, messy and dysfunctional as it may be, but I need help because the house is in bad shape and so is my step-mom. I want to do the right thing. But I feel jaded - due to my emotional ties to the family, it's hard to see things objectively. My siblings are like my babies because I'm much older so I'm protective.
My siblings, ages 5, 11, and 14, are in the care of my Step-Mom, who i believe is addicted to drugs. I dont have physical evidence, otherwise I'd report her to the police, and I also don't know exactly what she's on but she is very skinny compared to a few years ago, looks VERY under the influence / "messed up" at family holidays & any other time I've seen her in the past year, and she has also admitted she was addicted to meth way-back-when 20 years ago.
She took my pills from my purse several feet away while I was sleeping in her bed. I was there for the weekend to visit the family (I don't have a bed or room there of my own). There were many times in middle & high school when I woke up to her hands in my bag. She'd always say she needed a tampon or something. But now I really know why :(
At that time when I caught her (by counting my pills), I sat her & my Dad down and said look, I'm your child and you stole from me. You took medication I need to function in college. Beyond that, I'm your child and you stole from me. I think this indicates you have a problem, do you agree? *my step mom nodded and started to cry* I said Ok, so you've been in my life since I was 2 years old, we've always been close and I've always trusted you until now. I'm very concerned about your ability to take care of the kids, especially now that I know drugs are in play. So if you want to have a relationship of any kind with me moving forward, you need to seek help. Are you willing to go to rehab? *she nodded yes* I then made a list of any possible obstacles to her going and we sat down and the 3 of us made a plan for how to combat them. I volunteered to do all necessary research, scheduling, etc. and my father agreed to pay for the whole thing.
Fast forward 1 year, she looks tweeked out as all hell, hasn't gone to rehab, has blown off my calls/texts inquiring about her plans, offering my help etc. she will only contact me to say she misses me so much and it breaks her heart that I don't visit the house more often. My dad is so used to her behavior he's started to guilt trip me too, but he's pretty withdrawn/uninvolved and focused on work as he has always been. Not an emotional guy/parent.
While I've reminded her many times we won't have a relationship until she gets help, she acts like our little chat never happened. So I don't spend time at their house anymore. I just go there to pick up my siblings and take them for a night at my place where we bake cookies and watch movies, play at the park etc. My step-mom runs up and expects me to hug her when I come by to pick up the kids for the weekend at my house. She'll start to cry and prod me in this whiny voice when I'm cold & display stiff body language. (But I refuse to make a scene or discuss adult topics in front of my siblings, they're my babies)
For context, My dad was paralyzed a few years back, he's in a wheelchair and has deteriorating body and mental status, him and my step mom are only 42. While this is a great burden on my step-mom and came as a shock to us all, it also means she should've stepped up to provide most of the parenting and care for my siblings. When the accident happened the kids clearly needed therapy and support, they were all a mess but she was too busy locking herself in her bathroom, crying, and babying herself. My sister was 11-12 ish and coming home from school to immediately care full on for my 1 year old brother, she was like a little Mom, did all the house work, forced to grow up way too fast. My parents work from home so I feel there's no excuse that burden was placed on her. My Step-Mom missed all the kids parent teacher conferences for over a year, one of the kids, my little brother (at age 9) almost got truancy because she didn't consistently drive him to school... she'd stay up all night and then oversleep.
And when she finally went to a parent teacher conference she cried TO MY BROTHER's 3RD GRADE TEACHER about her gambling addiction, just talked about herself the whole time... and how hard her life is.
She's always clawing for sympathy and putting on a child's persona. Shes always been that way but it's like my dad's accident has given her tons of validation so she's permanently irrational and acts like a baby bird who needs rescuing.
She used to tell my 9 year old sister it's her turn to change the baby's diaper because she did it last time (even though she's the mom), that kinda stuff.
I'm not the only one who's concerned. My aunt and grandparents offered to take the kids for a while after my dad's accident but my dad ghosted and stopped speaking to them because he was so offended. He's a proud man. I know it's all been very hard on my step mom. However, she is also VERY immature. She always has been, but now that I know drugs are in play, I have less sympathy for her "quirks." And my Dad just enables her by rolling her eyes or slugging it off. He finds her behavior ridiculous too but doesn't do anything about it or seem to think it's a big issue because he thinks she is how she is, and that's that.
Here's just a few examples of her behavior:
• Driving erratically and distractedly
• She has run 2 red lights with me & my siblings in the car due to blatantly not paying attention. I'm very fearful because she drives my siblings and their fiends around in her car :(
• She can't manage to get in and out of a grocery store for 1-2 items in under an hour. She just can't do basic things like this.
• She spends money she doesn't have, racked up major CC debt without telling my dad, she says she has a shopping and gambling addiction and that's what she needs therapy for.
• Cusses at her kids when she's emotional or upset and NEVER performs any effective discipline or punishment. She'll ask my sister to vacuum, my sister sincerely won't hear her from the other room, & she'll go "I told you to vacuum the floor why are all you kids so lazy and disrespectful!!!"
• THEIR HOUSE IS IN HORRIFIC CONDITION. It always has been messy but right now it is NEXT LEVEL BAD. Ive never seen another home in such poor shape.
• She cries anytime a family member criticizes her or gets assertive.
For example she was complaining to me that she doesn't know how to tell my sister (at age 12) "No" to sleeping over at a friend's house because her friend and my sister were in the passenger window asking & her friend is "just so sweet". I responded: "You're the mom, she's the child. The kids guilt trip you only because you DO give in and can be talked into anything. The kids told me they can even talk you out of grounding them. You CAN'T go around wondering why you have no authority & they don't respect you when you act this way. You're their parent not their BFF. Tell her she can have a sleepover at her friends house when they plan it ahead of time, not the same day-of. You don't have to explain yourself."
Her: *does a pouty lip at me* well you're not a parent and you don't know how hard it is! Me: stop throwing yourself a pity party, put on your big kid pants, and get it done. Her: whatever you're not a parent so you have no right to act like you know everything.
I was raised by my single Mom mostly & she was so anal, clean, disciplined, and strict, I only have that opposite parenting style to compare this to.
I want to know if I should (or can) do something. I don't want CPS to separate my siblings, and I don't want my dad to disown me because he only has a few years left to live. But at the same time I don't want to be selfish and I want what's best for the kids.
Someone please tell me if any of this is bad enough to warrant taking action. And if so, what can I do? I'd also need options where I could protect my identity if I report my own parents or I don't know what would happen. My step mom can be a little crazy.