By Rev. Renee Pittelli

We’re all familiar with the stereotypical freeloading relative usually depicted in the movies as an able-bodied but unkempt bum who lives with mom or an older sibling, refuses to get a job, and spends his days lying on the sofa, drinking beer, getting potato chip crumbs all over the carpet, and watching Bugs Bunny marathons. If only it were that simple to recognize the family freeloader, then so many of us would be spared the conflict and guilt of kicking him out on his own to sink or swim. It would just be so much easier to start saying “No” to a blatant bum than it is to the much more talented freeloaders we usually have to deal with.




n real life, the majority of family freeloaders aren’t nearly so obvious. Most family freeloaders would be better described as “Schnorrers”. “Schnorrer” is a Yiddish word meaning “beggar” or “freeloader”, but with some nuances. A schnorrer isn’t so much a beggar as he is a manipulative con-man. A schnorrer is not really poor. He might very well have more money than you do- but his will be “tied up in investments.” He’s not homeless, and he doesn’t dress in rags. In fact, he is often well-dressed, well-spoken, and well-educated, just “temporarily down on his luck”. Schnorrers are careful to maintain an air of respectability, class, and even snobbery. A schnorrer will ask you to help out with his mortgage payment, and meanwhile, he’ll be sending his kids to private school. Schnorrers know that they have more credibility if they seem to be respectable, upstanding citizens, and you are more likely to believe their hogwash and give them money than you would be if they looked like a wino or drug addict sleeping in a doorway, or some ne’er-do-well criminal type.

Some schnorrers actually have the nerve to assume an air of superiority. They can be pretentious, patronizing, obnoxious, and condescending. Even though they are bumming off you, they still consider themselves your equal, or better yet, your superior. They travel in the same social circles you do, they live in the same neighborhood, their kids go to the same school and participate in the same sports and activities. They are not failures who are beneath you- they are just as good as you, if not better. They are very careful about keeping up appearances, and you’re going to help them do it. They do not appear underprivileged. In fact, many times they live better than you do. You may be surprised to find out that your schnorrer’s monthly premium cable bill is more than you paid for your whole TV set. They are living a nice life with numerous advantages, and paying for it with YOUR money.

Schnorrers will brag about their accomplishments, education, credentials, and connections, and drop the names of famous folks they supposedly grew up with. Many pretend to be too “modest” or “humble” to boast, instead, just shyly and casually “mentioning” these things, or letting their spouse “mention” them. But one way or the other, they will manage to let you know how accomplished they are, so that you won’t think their troubles are self-inflicted. See, they’re doing everything possible to be a success in life. They DESERVE to be successful, but luck is always against them!

Some are “professional students”, still “advancing their educations”, for twelve or fifteen years, with no end in sight. Schnorrers are just as, or more, intelligent than you, cultured than you, well-read than you, and have much better taste. They know fine wine and fine restaurants better than you do. They know classical music or history better than you do. It’s amazing that someone who is such a well-bred genius can’t manage to support himself. There’s nothing quite as ridiculous as a high-class bum.

Besides being professional con-artists, many schnorrers are also business “professionals” of some type. Many are college-educated, even bragging about their advanced degrees. They just can’t seem to find work in their field. While you or I would wait tables, pump gas, or clean houses to support our families if we had to, schnorrers can’t bring themselves to take a job that is “beneath” them. It would offend their sensibilities- they’re too good for that. Something will open up soon in their field, and they will need to be free to “go on interviews”. Or they will have a mysterious health problem that prevents them from working- but doesn’t prevent them from skiing, salsa dancing, bungee-jumping, shoveling three feet of snow so they can get out of the driveway to pick up their twice-a-week Chinese take-out, or carrying that new 100-pound wide-screen TV into the house and running up and down the basement stairs to hook it up. Some are “entrepreneurs” with their own “business ventures”, get-rich-quick schemes, or unique talents that they claim are marketable. They just need to get their business “off the ground”. These things “take time”. Meanwhile, can you loan him $50? You know he’s good for it!

Some freeloaders will have the nerve to ask you for a lot of money, like the down payment on a house. But the talented schnorrer knows that requesting a small amount makes it more likely that you’ll feel foolish, guilty, or cheap if you turn him down. So he will chip away at you by “needing” little sums of money, small favors, or free meals, on a never-ending, constant basis. He’s the one who will show up, uninvited, just in time for dinner, knowing that you will be hospitable enough to invite him to stay. He’s the one who will go to the movies with you and realize he left his wallet home. He’s the one who will always be short a little cash, who will just need gas money or cab fare, or a place to stay for just a few days. These seemingly inconsequential little favors will be requested again and again- from you and countless other “marks”, until, at the end of the day, they will add up to quite a tidy little sum.

A schnorrer will always have some “emergency” she failed to plan for, so she now needs you to bail her out. She’ll think nothing of knocking on your door every day to “borrow” things she’ll never pay back. If there’s a strange car in your driveway and she knows you have company, or if she sees you on the phone through a window, it doesn’t matter. She’ll interrupt you anyway. She’ll start with small favors, and progress to bigger and bigger ones.

We once had a neighbor who started off borrowing just a cup of sugar or milk, every day for a few months. Then she began progressing to more expensive items that she conveniently “forgot” to pick up while she was at the store- like baby formula, or several diapers to get her child through the night. None of these things were ever returned or paid back. Eventually, she stopped asking for things, and started coming right out and asking for money. First a small amount, like $10. Then she’d pay back the $10 and the next day, ask for $20. Then she’d pay back $10 of the $20 she owed you, and a day later, ask for another $20. I was young and naïve at the time, and trying to be friendly and nice, but at this point even I wised up and started saying “No.”

A schnorrer never seems to get her life together. She is in perpetual need of one favor or another, and if you agree, she’ll completely take advantage of your good nature. She’s the one who will call you in a panic to babysit her 3-year old while she runs to the school to pick up her 7-year old. Thinking she’ll only be gone a few minutes, you’ll leave your dinner in the oven and run over, only to have her come back from “school” two hours later, after making stops at the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, and a few interesting-looking yard sales. All while you provided free babysitting and wound up with a ruined roast. Oh, come on, stop complaining. What did you expect? You know how inconvenient it is to drag two little kids around to all those stops.

You might take the schnorrer family to a nice restaurant, thinking they can’t afford such a treat, when the truth is they go out to eat more than you do. You will have them over for meals on a regular basis, but they won’t even invite you for a slice of pizza or a cup of tea. Besides that he’s cheap, and has the typical narcissistic entitlement mentality, there’s another, very practical reason why the schnorrer will never invite you over.

A schnorrer who is hitting you up for money does not want you INSIDE his house, because inside is the truth he doesn’t want you to see. The big-screen TV hooked up to premium cable, the latest laptop computer and digital camera, the Blue tooth, the Ipod, the huge CD collection, the even HUGER DVD collection, the state-of-the art electronics, stereo equipment, video game systems, cell phones, all the latest gadgets, the expensive golf clubs, bicycles, telescopes, binoculars, or sporting equipment, maybe the expensive china and silver, the valuable antiques, the $800 recliners, the Lionel train layout worth a fortune, the expensive bath oils, cosmetics, and toiletries in the bathroom, the fridge FULL of expensive food- steak, chicken cutlets, shrimp, chocolate milk, premium ice cream and other treats, the pantry FULL of chips, dips, candy, cookies, cereals, packaged cakes, and all kinds of expensive, unnecessary junk. If the fridge is bare, it’s only because they eat out or get take-out every night.

Another interesting trait of schnorrers is their sense of entitlement. They feel that they’re perfectly within their rights to live off you, that you owe it to them to keep giving them handouts, and you have no right to set any limits. Schnorrers are users, exploiters, and master manipulators. They will shamelessly take advantage of anyone and everyone who cares for them. You could not afford most of the stuff they have, or to eat out or travel as much as they do. Yet they still try to con you into giving them more.

My husband and I used to have two big parties every year- a Fourth Of July barbeque and a Christmas Party. Most folks brought a dish and reciprocated our invitations, and then there were the Others. There were some we wouldn’t hear from all year. No return invitation, not even for a cup of coffee. No initiating a get-together, not even to call us and say “Let’s catch a movie Friday night”. The only time we would hear from them would be when the time for our next party was rolling around. And then there would be the phone call to wangle yet another invitation.

With one couple, an entire year went by without even a quick call to see how we were doing. Then, the last week of November, we got a message saying, “Hey, just wondering if you were having your Christmas Party this year, because we haven’t heard from you yet.” The gall of these people was mind-boggling. They expected to be included in all the fun, but they would never in a million years think that anything was expected of THEM, other than to show up at other people’s houses, eat, and go home. Keeping up their end of the friendship by at least calling once in awhile, much less inviting us back, wasn’t something they even briefly considered.

One of the most memorable conversations I ever had with a narcissistic freeloader was with one who was outraged at her entire family because they “weren’t getting the hints” that she and her husband had been throwing out for a holiday invitation. She was positively incensed that she and her husband and kids were “going to have to spend the holidays by ourselves” because nobody was inviting them. How DARE they not take her hints?! With usual drama-queen mentality, she took this as proof positive of what she had suspected all along- that her family didn’t care about her. She insisted that she was never going to speak to any of them again.

When I asked her why SHE didn’t invite THEM, she gaped at me, totally dumbstruck. After all, if she was so upset at the possibility of having to spend the holidays alone, wouldn’t that be the logical solution? And wasn’t it only fair that once in a while, she would take HER turn at entertaining the family? Her response to my suggestion was to indignantly insist that nobody expected that of her. When I asked how many holidays she had spent at her relatives’ homes in the past, she admitted that they had entertained her for many years. “That’s what we’ve ALWAYS done” she whined, trying to make it seem like some kind of family tradition that SHE always has to be the GUEST and never the HOST.

And of course, we can never change it. It has to stay that way forever. Entertaining her is their JOB! They can’t just QUIT! They have to keep giving and giving, while she keeps taking and taking. Abusers always insist on maintaining the same rigid family roles that have benefited them all their lives. Why would they want to change anything?

All of us who somehow got elected to be the family hostess for every milestone and holiday can tell stories of freeloading relatives who show up empty-handed year after year, sit on their tushes expecting to be served and waited on, and don’t even bother carrying a fork over to the sink. Some bring uninvited and unexpected “friends” along, fulfilling their hosting obligations by getting us to entertain their guests. If they don’t hear from you, many will call you a week or two before the holiday, fishing for an invitation. I hosted my birth-family for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and just about every other holiday, for the better part of 25 years, and ONCE my birth-sister brought a plate of cookies. That was the only time in all those years and out of all those people that anyone but me ever lifted a finger to contribute anything to the feast we all would enjoy. And it never happened again.

If you assign something for the freeloader to bring, she will purposefully mess it up or “forget”. If you ask her to bring a tossed salad, she’ll pick up potato salad at the deli instead (It’s a SALAD!), even though you already have mashed potatoes. And those who wanted a green salad will have nothing. If you tell her you’re having twenty people and to bring four pounds of coleslaw, she’ll show up with one measly pound and tell you she thinks it will be enough. If you ask for three loaves of bread, you’ll get one, and each guest will get half a slice. If you, knowing that she would never actually cook anything, ask her to bring the paper plates, more likely than not your husband will wind up running to the store for them, while everyone waits to eat and the dinner you cooked gets cold or overdone.

Be assured these “mix-ups” and “oversights” are not mere misunderstandings. They are quite intentional. There is a reason the freeloader does this. Because if she can get you to see her as unreliable, scatterbrained, confused or even downright stupid, then you will stop telling her to bring contributions to the dinner. You will see that you can’t rely on her, so you will stop asking. She’s lowering the bar, so you will lower your expectations. At the worst, you will stop asking her to bring any essential dishes, like the stuffing for Thanksgiving, and start telling her to bring something that you’ll have duplicates of anyway. You might ask her to bring a dessert, knowing you already have a couple of desserts, so it doesn’t really matter whether she comes through for you or not. Or, at best, you will stop asking completely. After you finally get the message and give up, from then on she can just come as a guest and enjoy herself, with no responsibilities and no commitment to helping out.

The only way out of this predicament is to inform your perpetual guest that since you hosted her and her family for the last few holidays, this time you’ll be coming to her house. After all, fair is fair. Surely she understands that sooner or later, it’s HER TURN. Ask her what time she wants you there, and tell her you’ll be very busy that week and can’t commit to cooking anything, so you’ll bring a dessert. Then get a boxed pie at the grocery store and go relax at HER house.




Sister Carly was the oldest of four children. Except for a few years, her parents, Brian and Judy, who both have post-graduate degrees, have managed to never work full-time jobs, or even part-time jobs for the most part. They have spent their entire lives freeloading off of other people. Brian claims to have a “disability” stemming from a 20-year old accident. This disability is invisible, vague and mysterious- so much so that even HE can’t describe it, and when he does, he often winds up contradicting himself and getting caught in lies because he doesn’t even bother making an effort to remember the baloney he told you the last time. Judy is constantly “tired” and laying in bed or on the couch watching television. She also has a litany of vague, contradictory and mysterious medical complaints that she can’t describe specifically and that there never seem to be cures for. As her doctors give up in frustration, some having as good as said she is faking it, she moves on to the next doctor, managing to get at least a few months of prescription painkillers out of them before they catch on.

Brian and Judy have a great act. Although they have the latest in sporting equipment, hi-definition big screen TVs, laptops and cell phones, pay for premium cable, wear expensive clothes and shoes, eat out at least three times a week, and travel frequently, they still have the nerve to cry poverty. They have conned almost everyone they know into feeling sorry for them. They have managed to live rent-free most of the time, in the basements, upstairs apartments, and rental properties of friends and relatives. People have given them cars, clothes, food, and cash. As each source of money has dwindled over the years, they have another source all lined up, ready to beg from. This began with their parents when they first got married. Over the next few decades, they have freeloaded off their siblings, their cousins, their friends, the people in church, their neighbors, and now their adult and almost adult children.

Why, you ask, would people keep giving them handouts, knowing that they own the latest, most expensive television sets, sporting equipment, and computers, and that they travel and eat out frequently? Because they are clever enough to hide these facts from most folks. For starters, they do not admit to eating out, expensive hobbies, or traveling, although they do occasionally slip up and get caught, at which point the sucker of the moment usually cuts off the gravy train, and they simply shrug and move on to the next sap they can con.

Most importantly, they do not let anyone into their house to see the TVs and computers. This is vital to keeping up their charade. They never invite anyone over, they keep the window shades pulled down, and if you drop in on them, even in the middle of the afternoon, they will open the door a crack, peek out, and tell you they can’t let you in because they’re not decent, in their pajamas, not feeling well, or taking a nap. If you happen to be bringing over a gift, or a couple of bags of groceries, you can just leave it on the porch.

Judy and Brian wangle dinner invitations to others’ homes on a weekly basis, pretending they can’t even afford food. For holidays, they’ll throw broad hints until somebody invites them, and their whole family. They will ask you what you’re doing for Thanksgiving, and then when you tell them you’ll be home and ask them what they’re doing, they’ll sigh and sadly say “Oh, we’re just staying home ALONE….” They will repeat this performance ad nauseum, every time they see you or talk to you, every day if necessary, until you finally take the hint and invite them.

Brian has gone so far as to ask people what they are “making for dinner tonight”, and then when they tell him, he will say, only half jokingly, “What time do you want us there?” Ha, Ha, Ha. Judy’s act is a little more Sarah Bernhart- her eyes will fill with tears as she whispers to you that she has no money to buy Christmas presents for her children, or that she is going to have to send her daughter off to college three states away with only $20 in her pocket. Horrified, you will write her a check or open your wallet and hand her cash, right on the spot. Little do you know that she will be taking her family of six to Olive Garden or Red Lobster tomorrow evening- your treat!

Judy and Brian expect to be invited to other people’s houses, but strangely enough, they don’t ever think they have to reciprocate. Nobody ever gets invited to their house, not even for a cup of coffee or a slice of pizza. Mainly because they’re too lazy to entertain in return, but also because they don’t want you to see how they REALLY spend the money you give them to “buy food for the kids”.

Brian gets monthly disability checks, and, although he’s been too “disabled” to work for decades, he still manages to play softball, tennis, and several other sports which require a high level of physical fitness. Brian and Judy are experts at playing the system. They spend countless hours researching every possible way to get money out of the government- which means getting money out of the taxpayers- hardworking folks who actually WORK, like you and me. They have at various times gotten welfare, food stamps, free health and dental insurance, WIC, help with their utility bills, and a variety of other subsidies. Perhaps most disgraceful and disgusting of all is when Brian and Judy make their rounds to stock up at the local food pantries, which squeak by on shoe-string budgets and donations, and struggle to keep their shelves stocked. Brian and Judy are literally taking food out of the mouths of homeless people and REALLY poverty-stricken folks, yet they have absolutely no shame.

Because Brian is on disability, they also get disability payments for every child they have under the age of 18. Each child is entitled to about half of the parent’s payment. So by having four children, Judy and Brian collected triple the disability payments every month than they would have if it was just them.

Now here comes the interesting part. As each of their four children turned 18 and aged out of the system, Brian and Judy’s monthly income decreased accordingly. So even though they were supposedly poverty stricken and in poor health, they decided to start a second family. Judy was in her 40s when she gave birth to their fifth child, followed two years later by the sixth child. People who believed that they were really “disabled”, “tired”, and “poor” were horrified. Only when you realized that they would again be able to play the system and get the rest of us to support them, because each new baby would qualify for a monthly disability check for the next 18 years, did this seemingly insane decision make perfect sense. 

Before Brian became “disabled”, he worked an occasional part-time job, and moved his family into his mother’s house. Carly’s earliest memories are of being cared for by her grandmother, while her mother slept till noon and watched TV for the rest of the day. She remembers overhearing arguments between Brian and his mother, and hearing her grandmother warn him about what a neglectful mother Judy was. Eventually they moved out of her grandmother’s home, and Carly has numerous childhood memories of her mother calling up various neighbors and asking if the kids could spend a few hours at their houses, because Judy was “sick”. Carly knew there was nothing wrong with her mother. Judy just wanted to spend the afternoon watching her favorite TV shows in peace. When the kindly neighbors who took her in inquired about her mother’s health, Carly was ashamed at having to lie and pretend that Judy was really sick.

When Judy was unable to impose upon a neighbor to watch her kids, she would leave the child care to Carly, while she lazed around. Carly was trained to be the family caretaker from the age of seven. She remembers feeding and diapering her younger siblings, and keeping them occupied for hours. She recalls making Judy sandwiches and tea and bringing them to her on a tray while she sat in front of the TV all day. Carly also vacuumed, dusted, folded clothes, cleaned the bathroom, and did most of the chores that were rightfully her mother’s.

Judy was neglectful and sometimes abusive, and Brian ignored the things she did or made excuses for her. It seemed as if Judy had a missing link somewhere, a weird mean streak and juvenile behavior that would unexpectedly surface, as if Judy was a little brat, teasing the other children, instead of the adult. Carly has memories of things like trying to console her 2-year old brother, who was screaming in terror to the point of gasping for air, while Judy chased him around the house with a toy robot that he was afraid of, making fun of him and laughing hysterically because he was scared of a toy. Another time, Carly cared for her baby brother, while Judy “punished” him for accidentally breaking a bracelet she had carelessly left in his reach, by refusing to speak to him, or have anything to do with him for two days, even though he wailed pitifully for his mama. Because of Judy’s infantile level of immaturity, Carly always felt protective of her younger siblings, and thought that it was her responsibility to take care of them and Judy. There was nobody to hold the family together but her.

Now and then Judy and Brian would join a church and sign their kids up for Sunday School. After a few weeks, they would start feeling “sick” on Sunday mornings, and just drop the kids off for a couple of hours of free babysitting. Again, Carly was put in the position of having to lie and cover for her parents, whom she knew to be perfectly healthy. One church required that the mothers who had children enrolled in Sunday School volunteer as teachers or helpers, alternating with each other, for two Sundays every month. Judy took her turn once or twice. Then she began pulling her sick act when it was her turn to volunteer, and Brian would take Carly and her siblings to church, anyway, dropping them off for other people to supervise for two hours while he sat in church. Besides that someone else would then have to miss church to fill in for Judy, Carly was mortified knowing that Judy wasn’t really sick.

You see, Judy and Brian were big Boston Red Sox fans. If there was a game on Saturday night, you could be sure they were watching it. Sometimes the games would go into extra innings or run late. Carly remembers times that her mother was up until midnight cheering and screaming like a lunatic, and keeping everybody in the house awake. But a few hours later, when it was time for church, suddenly Judy would be “sick”. Brian would bring the children to church so Judy could sleep in, dump them on the other mothers, and lie like a thief about Judy’s “condition”.

If anyone questioned him, he would often become confused and fumble for details. That was because he was LYING. He’d say Judy was in pain but he “didn’t know” anything else, like where or what kind of pain. If pressed, he’d often say she was “going for tests”, but these mysterious tests never showed anything, and no one ever heard their results. There was never a diagnosis of any kind. Sometimes, when he felt cornered, Brian would admit that he didn’t know WHAT was wrong with her, but SOMETHING was. It was preposterous, ridiculous, unbelievable, and humiliating, but he did it with all the “sincerity” he could muster, and many folks were too polite to confront him and openly express their disbelief.

The worst times were the times that he would stand up in church and request prayer for his wife. Carly felt horrible as the pastor and congregation fervently prayed for her “sick” mother to be healed. She felt guilty, embarrassed, dishonest, and fearful that she and her father were sinning by pretending that Judy was sick, and making people ask God for help with a lie.

Finally, Brian slipped up. One Sunday morning, before church, he got into a lively discussion with another Red Sox fan about the wild game the night before. In front of several witnesses, he blurted out how, when the bases were loaded, and at other exciting parts of the game “Judy was going so crazy that she kept screaming at him to look, and waking up the kids.” And, surprise, surprise. The next morning also happened to be one of those days that Judy was “in pain”, and not in church, again conveniently absent when it was her turn to assist in Sunday School. After this incident, the other moms complained to the Sunday School leader, who told the pastor. They met with Judy and Brian and told them that they would have to share the responsibility for assisting in Sunday School, with no more excuses. So Judy and Brian stopped attending church.


Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that when Brian and Judy decided to start their “second” family and Judy had Ariel, her first change of life baby, she relied on Carly, who still lived at home, to care for her. Judy pulled her sick act for almost two years, forcing Carly to care for Ariel from the minute she came home from work everyday, and all weekend long as well, while Judy laid on the couch watching TV. While Carly was at work, Judy provided minimum child care bordering on neglect, keeping Ariel in her crib “napping” most of the day.

Carly naturally developed a deep love and maternal feelings for Ariel, and Ariel pretty much thought of Carly as her mother. It was as if Ariel was Carly’s daughter instead of her little sister, and Carly was just leaving her in day care while she went to work every day, and then taking over her child’s care when she got home each night. Instead of encouraging Carly to have a social life of her own, Judy pressured her to hurry home and give Judy a “break”. Instead of dating or socializing with young people her own age, Carly spent all of her spare time babysitting for Judy’s children

Although Carly was devoted to Ariel, she became more and more depressed as she got older, eventually starting to feel a great longing for children of her own and fear that she would never have that chance. She often told friends that her biological clock was ticking and she was afraid she would never find the right man and be able to get married and have her own family. She developed an eating disorder and lost a tremendous amount of weight. Her emotions became fragile and volatile, and she would become tearful or angry with little provocation. She began acting more and more desperate, developing crushes on unavailable or inappropriate men, such as those with girlfriends or those who were much younger than herself, and became hurt and jealous when they showed no interest in her. She also began cutting herself. But although the scars on her arms and legs were plainly visible, Judy and Brian studiously ignored Carly’s obvious distress and unhappiness, and never inquired or showed any interest in what was going on with her. It’s as though nobody cared about her, except as a babysitter, even though she was just as much one of their children as the younger ones.

Eventually Carly had an opportunity to change her life. A man she had been “seeing” long distance came to town and spent some time with her. Their relationship deepened, and when he returned home, they continued to “date” through long phone calls. After almost a year, he asked her to move to be with him, and she received a wonderful job offer in his town. It seemed to Carly like it was now or never. At this point, Judy was expecting her sixth child, and Carly’s life would be over if she stayed. She just could not give up this one chance at happiness and a marriage and children of her own. So she decided to make the move.

Over the next months, her romance blossomed and she and her boyfriend settled into his lovely home. She made friends and loved her new job. But her joy and excitement was tinged with sadness and grief. She found that she missed Ariel desperately. For the first few weeks after her move, she cried every day. She felt as if her heart had been ripped out. She would have taken Ariel with her, but unfortunately Ariel was SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD. Someone else who had emotionally manipulated Carly and knowingly encouraged her to develop such strong maternal feelings for a child who wasn’t hers, just so that they wouldn’t have to exert themselves to take care of their own children.

Meanwhile, as Carly was settling into her new location, Judy was in a panic, desperate to get Carly to move back home again to take care of her kids for her. As time passed and Carly began to calm down and her level of grief began to lessen, Judy made sure to upset Carly every time they e-mailed or talked on the phone, with reports of how much Ariel missed her, how she had a fever and was calling for Carly, or other heart-wrenching, guilt-inducing tactics. Judy began coaching Ariel- “Ask Carly when she’s coming home”, “Tell Carly you made her a picture and you’ll give it to her when she comes home”, “Tell Carly you want her to take you to the playground again”, “Tell Carly you want her to cuddle you”, and on and on. For Christmas, Judy coached Ariel to tell Carly over the phone how “Christmas isn’t going to be the same without you”. Now what 2-year old would say such a thing on her own? Besides that this was so obviously contrived, and way too mature of a statement coming from a toddler, Ariel had only had two Christmases in her entire life, and probably didn’t remember either one of them!

For over a year, Judy kept hammering away at Carly’s fragile resolve, manipulating in whatever way she could to influence Carly to give up her new life and return home. She relentlessly criticized Carly’s boyfriend, badmouthed him to other people, and was rude to him when they spoke. She “cheerfully” reported all the “home town news”, great job opportunities, and tidbits about anyone she knew Carly liked or missed. And she never let up on how poorly Ariel was doing without her. Ariel started having nightmares, Ariel is nervous and started sucking her thumb, Ariel won’t let go of her security blanket, Ariel is afraid we’re ALL going to leave her.

Carly would be perfectly happy and having a beautiful day, and then Judy would call or e-mail, and Carly would end up in tears and doubting herself again. Every time she talked to her mother, without fail, she would wind up depressed, anxious, and desperately homesick. Many times, after one of these calls, she would make up her mind to move back home. But money was tight, and she would have to save up before she could quit her job and move again. So time would pass, and she would calm down again and decide to stay- that is, until the next phone call. Her boyfriend’s patience began to grow thin, and they began to fight. After all, he never knew whether she was coming or going. He began to feel used, and resentful that she was too conflicted to make a commitment to staying with him and concentrating on their relationship. Eventually, Carly made the definite decision to move back home again, as soon as she got her holiday bonus.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, things were getting complicated. Carly’s younger sister, Jessica, got married, and immediately got pregnant. Jessica and her new husband moved in with Judy and Brian, and Jessica began helping out more and more with her younger siblings, taking over Carly’s place as the family caregiver. Uh, oh, the house was pretty full now. Suddenly, there wasn’t much room for Carly if she moved back. Besides, who needed her, now that Jessica would be living here with her own baby and doing all the child care?

So after over a year of all that drama and angst, Carly was told that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to come home after all. The house would be crowded now, and where would she sleep? Ariel was finally adjusting to being without her, and it would surely confuse her to have Carly back again. Maybe she’d better stay where she was, after all.

Then things started getting confusing. Jessica was not making a permanent commitment to living with her parents. She and her husband would spend some nights with his parents, and sometimes they would go house hunting. And so began a tug-of-war of emotional manipulation between Judy and Carly. Whenever Judy thought that Jessica might be leaving, she would start pressuring Carly to move back again. Whenever it looked like Jessica was staying, Judy would make Carly feel unwelcome again.

A devastated Carly finally began to comprehend the magnitude of her parent’s abuse and how they were only using her, manipulating her, and toying with her emotions. How they set her up to feel maternal toward Ariel so they could get her to sacrifice her own life and remain their free babysitter forever. Carly had no choice but to begin picking up the pieces all on her own. She was used and tossed aside when she was no longer useful or needed, while Judy and Brian set their sites on controlling Jessica.

True to form, their first order of business was to try to get rid of Jessica’s husband, by criticizing, badmouthing, and gossiping about him, because if he was gone, it would be one less mouth to feed. Also, the best possible outcome would be if they could make sure Jessica would not move out into her own home down the road. Then they would be able to educate her on how to get whatever she could out of government programs and child support, which, of course, they would share in because she would be living under their roof. And they would have her all to themselves, to care for her child as well as theirs.

But Jessica had not been indoctrinated from childhood to be the family caretaker like Carly had. She had observed and learned from her parent’s exploitation of her older sister, and had no intentions of living with them on a permanent basis. Shortly after her baby was born, she and her husband moved out and into a home of their own.

Right after Jessica left, Judy and Brian’s life took an unexpected turn, and the couple who spent their lives crying wolf finally had a genuine “crisis” of sorts. The elderly uncle whose rental home they had been living in for free passed away. His heirs told Judy and Brian to start paying rent at fair-market value. Judy and Brian tried their usual sob stories, but this time it fell on deaf ears. The uncle’s children were angry because Judy and Brian had taken advantage of their father for five years by not paying him any rent. They knew that Judy and Brian were perfectly capable of working- they were just bums. So the heirs put the house on the market and told Judy and Brian to be ready to vacate as soon as it sold.

So, guess what Judy and Brian did? They called up Carly and not only told her, once and for all, to stay in her new city, but demanded point-blank that she settle down and buy a house, so that they could move in and live with her! And, without the least bit of shame or embarrassment, they proceeded to inform everyone who knew them that this is what they had told Carly to do. Their nerve was mind-boggling. Having run out of relatives and friends of the older generation to sponge off, they ran through everyone of their generation, and were now starting on the next generation. To their way of thinking, everybody was put on this earth just to support them!

Once again Carly’s world was thrown into chaos because of her selfish, unscrupulous, con-artist parents. She was terribly torn and conflicted about what to do. But this time, with the support of her boyfriend, therapist, friends, and other relatives, she was finally able to say “No” to Judy and Brian and refuse to be their doormat any longer. With God’s grace, she was at last able to claim her freedom from oppressive family “obligations” and begin to live her own life.

Judy and Brian had finally run out of soft touches to exploit. They moved into a small, crowded apartment and actually had to start paying rent- a new experience for them. Both finally had to go to work, at menial, low-paying jobs, since they had little previous experience and almost blank resumes. Sooner or later, the chickens come home to roost. Most people work hard their whole lives so that they can start thinking about retiring when they reach Judy and Brian’s age. But Judy and Brian did it backwards. They had been “retired” their whole lives, and now, as they approached their 50s, near retirement age for everybody else, they would finally have to go to work and start earning a living.

****CONTINUED IN PART 2- Click HERE for more Family Schnorrer stories, including the All-Time World Champion Freeloader, The Pity Ploy of the Sociopath, and The Entitlement Mindset of the Narcissist.

****Click HERE for PART 3 which includes 16 Ways To Spot A Con, A Heart-Wrenching Dilemma- Why Do They Put Us In This Position?, What Does The Bible Say About Giving To The Poor Vs. Supporting A Bum?, And How To Play The Game- Learning To Let It Go In One Ear and Out The Other.