My sister is making some bad choices.

My sister, who I will call Jess, and I have a lot of “Internet friends.” One of our chat groups has become a bit more important (to both of us), however, she’s gotten really close with a few people there. I’ve met all of them, and we talk frequently, and they seem okay. Jess has become really good friends with one of them, named Meaghan (fake name again). Meaghan is three years older, works full time, supports her entire family and a few friends on her own, and dropped out of high school. She has also offered a room to my sister for $100 a month, and set up a job for her. This all seems great, except that now my sister doesn’t want to go to college anymore, and to avoid my mother’s wrath, she’s already saving money to change her name. I would remain in contact with her only through our Internet chats. I’m worried that she’s seriously going to mess up her life. Not only would I end up bailing her out, but I do love her and I’m seriously worried.

Before we get to the problem with your sister, I want to mention something to you: friends from the internet are not real people. I know you met them in real life and now she’s real friends with them, but if you’re heavily becoming heavily invested in a group of people you’ve never met is a sign that you’re just trying to avoid what’s going on in your real life.

You love your sister. One time you were doing her hair and you wrapped a little bronze unicorn in it for fun and then couldn’t get it out and your mom had to cut it out and your sister had a little bald spot for a while, but that was an accident and you love her very, very much and don’t want any harm to come to her. I want you to closely re-read your email, and think about how cockamamie this plan really is: she’s saving up money to change to her name so she can hide from your mother. She claims she’s not going to speak to you again unless it’s over the internet. She is going to live with a bunch of random people who have dropped out of high school, spend too much time on the internet, and, this is my own personal guess here, don’t shower often enough, are loud and stay up too late, and don’t wash their dishes.

She’s going to be home within a week. And when she does come home, you’re going to support her emotionally and spiritually and maybe give her twenty bucks for gas now and again, and you’re definitely not going to bring up that time when she ran away to live with the internet people until she is safely in her 30s. If she doesn’t come home, you’re going to love her and be her friend, on the internet or anywhere else, but you’re going to realize that even though your mother isn’t that much of a help and a lot of this responsibility has fallen to you, you’re not her actual mother. There are limits to what you can do.

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