Stop Playing Host to Parasites!

parasitesIt’s a strange and destructive phenomena: women who value education, hard work and earning their own way through life, allowing others to live off of them like parasites.

A perfect example is my cousin — we’ll call her Trina (not her real name), who was recently promoted within her company to a job with more responsibility and a lot more money, but was unable to enjoy her success and its perks because her older sister, let’s call her April (also a pseudonym) constantly calls her to “borrow” money and buy her kids things that she and her boyfriend are responsible for supplying their children. Trina didn’t want her sister to know about her promotion, because she was certain that April would increase her demands for money, clothing and gifts.

I was not surprised to hear that April wanted her sister’s money and felt entitled to it (she’d attempted to “borrow” money from me in the past), but Trina’s obvious guilt about saying “No” to her was a surprise. Less than a week before, April had complained to my mother that Trina was “stingy” with her and her kids. I mentioned this to Trina.

She shrugged and said, “That’s how April is. She doesn’t appreciate anything anyone does for her.”

Why am I telling you about my cousins’ toxic sibling relationship? Because so very many of you ladies are engaged in similar relationships with people who see you as nothing more than someone who owes them something. Someone they can use. While you study, work hard, save for rainy days, and operate in the world with honesty, courage and generosity, you betray those values by allowing others to forgo living a similarly upstanding life.

This is probably the single biggest mistake that African-American women make. We expect so much of ourselves, yet give those we love (or just like) an easy out and make feeble excuses for them. Whether this is done out of fear of censure and abandonment, or because of a subconscious belief that other Black folks are innately inferior and incapable of providing for themselves, it really doesn’t matter. It only matters that it stop.

The plain and simple truth is this: when you do for others what they are capable of doing for themselves, you create dependency, need and resentment. There’s a reason, when people grow dependent on someone, they grow hostile towards them and begin acting out. They understand, if only subconsciously, that the giver is not really helping them, but trapping them, robbing them of the power to control their own destiny, for better or worse.

“Give a man a fish he eats for one day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”

Sometimes you have to let those you love fail and suffer a little. When you demand no more and no less from others than you’d expect from yourself, you demonstrate genuine respect for them and you. No one respects a parasite, not even the parasite; so, what is gained by perpetuating a relationship that fosters disrespect, dependency and resentment?

I told Trina what I thought of her financing her sister’s idle lifestyle and, though she agreed, she is still giving her sister money! This will probably continue until things reach a boiling point. In the meantime, Trina struggles to save for her own far-off retirement, while paying off a mortgage and supporting her sister’s family, which includes April’s under-employed baby daddy.


About blackfemaleculture

I am an African American woman looking to connect with other African American women who are interested in reinventing a wholesome, empowering culture that feeds the minds and souls of African American women and their children.
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11 Responses to Stop Playing Host to Parasites!

  1. neurochick says:

    I have to agree with this. It is NOT loving to enable someone in their bad behavior. If your cousin thinks she’s doing her sister a favor, she should consider this. What if your cousin, God forbid, dies suddenly, then where will her sister be? Everybody should be self supporting through their own contributions. Period.

    • @neurochick
      Funny you should mention what might happen to April if Trina died, my older sister has suggested this possibility as well. Trina doesn’t think that it’s likely, because she is 9 years younger than April. But she has a long commute to work and accidents happen close to home as well. And, as you said, “Everybody should be self supporting through their own contributions.”

  2. Alena says:

    I know so many women who are doing this. And most are not as financially secure as your cousin. She’s lucky. You’re right that this mess needs to stop. I have an aunt who lost her home last year and she wouldn’t have if she had not been buying her family members love. She could not afford to give what she gave, and not work full time, which she can’t because she’s disabled and elderly. It’s a shame. And when she needed help from these same people that she gave all her money to they could not be bothered. smdh.

    • @Alena
      Unfortunately, this is very commonplace. Once a host body has nothing left to give, the parasite(s) loses interest. What happened to your aunt should be a lesson for other Black women: consider your own needs first and foremost. Everybody else does.

      • Kendra Blake says:

        Yes, everyone else does look out for numero uno while Black women sit around looking foolish trying to help people who don’t give a damn about them. It needs to stop.

  3. My own late Mother played host to parasites. She now rests 6 feet under, victimized by a family elder abuser and passed away shortly after being attacked by a relative living in Mother’s home! She kept saying to me “why don’t they leave me alone” but she lacked the strength to kick them out no matter how I encouraged her to do so. I do not like how the majority of Black Americans treat their “Big Mommas” its a myth that the Black Community loves its (Grand)Mothers. They love to use them Big Mommas house hosts generations of parasites, as my Mother’s home did.

    • So sorry to hear about what happened to your mother. I hope the bastard that caused your mother’s death got what he/she deserved!
      I know the main reason seniors allow parasites to feed off of them is fear of being alone and/or fear of violence. I actually know someone who went down South to visit her good son, then sold her house where her parasitic son lived with her, so that he had no choice but to move out. She didn’t tell her good son what was going on with his brother, because years before he had beat the daylights out of the parasite when he heard him get “mouthy” with their mother. Frankly, I think that she should have taken her chances. This woman was in her 60s and she had to sell the only home she and her late husband had shared together just to be free of her own abusive child. 😦

  4. It can be hard to set boundaries with family members who become parasites, but after dealing with one family member of mine who continuously calls me for money, car use, and whenever he is in trouble, I’ve learned the art of saying “no” to people and not feeling guilty about it. With this family member, I had to be more thorough in my approach by not accepting his phone calls (he is labeled “ignore” in my contacts), not giving him the address when I moved to a new area, and promptly asking my parents not to invite me over to gatherings where he would be in attendance. You have to teach people how to treat you. If there is even the slightest hint they can take advantage of you, they will.

    Now some would say my methods are harsh. I would respond by saying that you never know what people are capable of when their back is against the wall. People who rely on friends and family members to rescue them will not stop this behavior until the life lines are consistently cut. Only when you draw lines and close the doors of opportunity for parasites to enter is when they will learn how to get their act together and stop mooching.

    • You’re methods are anything but “harsh”. Avoiding the parasite saves his feelings and prevents you from being fed upon. You have been overly kind to this relative, if anything, that’s why he keeps coming back for more. Let the people who think you’re harsh lend him a vehicle and/or money. Never feel guilty about protecting your own best interests. Guilt about setting boundaries with parasites is why so many BW are in poor financial shape, even those earning relatively high salaries in their professions. Do you think this family member would help you financially if you needed it? If the answer is no, then let the guilt go.

      • Shaylah says:

        You did the right thing. The more you do for families. the more they want. I like how you handled the situation. Black women have been conditioned out of putting themselves first and foremost. Like Evia , yourself and other countless bloggers mentioned, the muledom must stop and you put the brakes on it.

  5. Pingback: Black Women, STOP Wasting Your Time and Energy | Black Female Culture

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