Dear Miss Emily:

 I'm a 35 yr. old with a husband and 2 children. My father died 2 years ago after a very short fight with cancer. A few months after his death, my mother asked us for help. She wanted us to sell our house and move in with her and my, then, 13 year-old sister, because she could not support the large house that my father built (with his own 2 hands) alone. My brother was also asked to do the same. There are 9 people living here now. I thought I did the right thing. But now, I'm not so sure. We put our home on the market. Found a family that was able to rent to own(which covers about 3/4 of the bills for that property). We have been here for 1 year  and my family is miserable! My mom sets rules for my children (10 & 13 year-old boys) but does not do the same for my now 15 year old sister. My mother and my 13 yr. old had WW3 in the kitchen a few days ago. My son tried to stick up for himself, verbally. She told him that he is going to Hell, and that it’s her house and we just live in the basement and pay rent. That she is selling the house and will move with her sister to another state. My husband had to leave work to break up this war. My mother has not talked to any of us, except to say good morning or hello in response to our greeting. We gave up everything for her and my sister to keep their home. Without being thrown out or causing more tension, what is a tactful way to ask her if she meant these things that she said? I thought this was my home. But I must have been wrong.

------------------------Miss Emily’s advice---------------------

Dear Displaced:

Wrong!  It’s not your house and, despite what your mother might have said to the contrary to get you to go along with this ill-fated plan, she's pulling rank. You, being vulnerable (and I'm not discounting the possibility that you might have thought this idea was advantageous to your family, as well) walked into a nightmare. Throwing nine people under one roof is tantamount to someone placing land mines throughout the house and expecting the occupants to always remember to avoid them. To make this work, you'd have to be living at Buckingham Palace!  I don’t think it matters if your mother was just letting off steam and making idle threats, this situation is toxic. Find an alternative living situation because, if you don’t, what you see now may be child’s play next to what can happen. This is not a “Cheaper by the Dozen” movie, where madcap, zany events occur and everyone wins in the end.  The emotional damage to your family is not worth the risk of putting up with this volatile environment. Your family's welfare should come first.  Do not be taken in by a new plan for reconciliation and promises of "this will be your house someday."  A wise person once said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  In your case, truer words were never spoken.