Dear Snarky – My Sister is Blackmailing my Parents

Dear Snarky,

There’s some major shit going down in our family. My sister is blackmailing my parents into giving her money for a down payment on a home.

It started on a family party where my dad, who usually is not a jerk, went off on an alcohol fueled misogynist rant (everyone was drinking not just my dad and he is rarely drunk) and my sister unbeknownst to anyone recorded it.

Then a couple of days later she texted my parents the rant and said if they didn’t give her $50,000 so she and her husband could use it as a down payment on a home that she would release the rant on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram and “cancel” my dad.

My father runs a business that could be greatly affected by this so it’s not some idle threat he and my mom can shrug off. If the business goes down it could really hurt the entire family. All of us including our children will be affected by this.

My parents have contacted a lawyer and basically my sister can post the rant. We can’t stop her.

Can you think of anything else we can do to resolve this? This all started when my parents refused to give my sister and her husband money to buy a home. They do have a long history of helping my sister out and it never ends well. When they give her money, she usually blows it. Also, her third husband is not exactly trustworthy.

I’m not condoning what my dad said at all. I just don’t think that what a drunk old man on says in the privacy of his own home should result in being blackmailed by his daughter.

Signed, Very Worried

Dear Very Worried,

Just wow on this one. Umm, I’m going to assume your family has already had a heart-to-heart talk with your sister and she’s not going to change her mind. And I’m sure your family has already brainstormed about how to go all Mission Impossible and try to get her phone and erase the video. But thanks to the cloud that rant is not going to be purged.

That leaves me with a couple of ideas. One, your parents could give your sister the 50 grand and make her sign legal documents that if she ever posts the rant she had to pay the money back. But the problem with this is I just think this will embolden her even more.

Suggestion number two is your family could call your sister’s bluff. She has to know that if she releases the rant she’ll pretty much be out of the family and that if she’s relies on the family business for an income stream she’ll also be cutting off her own monetary source.

The issue with calling her bluff is that it doesn’t negate her from using the video down the road to play mind games with the family and lets you all twist in the wind with a whole will she or won’t she scenario. My gut is telling me she will eventually post it.

So, you’ll need to be prepared for that. I almost think your dad needs to get in front of it. Have him get some counseling for his hostile feelings toward women and work to get his anger under control. (I would also suggest counseling for your entire family. I’m no therapist but I think family blackmail is a sign that help is needed for everyone.)

Now wait for it because you’re not to like this suggestion – have your father acknowledge the situation publicly by releasing at least a part of the video and apologize. He can then can go deep on what he’s done to change. I used to do crisis communication and it’s always better to be in control of the situation.

As I see it this is the only way that frees your family from being held hostage by your sister. 🤯