Elder brothers


Quite a bit atypical question, I guess, but what’s your take on elder brothers, considering a couple of years difference. Are they to be regarded the same as a younger brother regards himself, or as some kind of lesser father figure? My question comes from the fact I’m dealing with a younger brother of mine who apparently thinks he’s the boss. I would normally care little for no particular marks of respect and would get over unwillingness to accept a slight measure of authority (as people normally do with even mere friends who are somewhat older and experienced and I’m sure he does as well), as I’m not a fan of lording over people, but reversal of roles seems grossly unnatural, as does active disrespect, and I’m not willing to let him continue that. Basically, I can no longer accept that in his mind, he’s the one with more authority. He allows himself to say things like, “Did I ask you?”, “Shut up,” use imperatives in a bit of a stiff upper lip tone like I wouldn’t normally employ on him or an actual subordinate, behave like the host when visiting me, and generally his behaviour suggests a bit of a reversed relationship exists in his mind (i.e. as if he were the elder brother). This may be caused by the fact I’m a lanky intellectual type whereas he’s not dumb himself but very meaty and strong for his age (a working out type). How would you suggest that I make it clear to him that he shouldn’t even fathom having any authority and either know his place or at least try to exist as an equal without outward disrespect? Before you get wrong ideas, I don’t find it hard to follow directions from a younger person when he or she knows what he/she is talking about and I’m a newbie, so it’s not about professional matters. :wink:


I note you are 23 and your post indicates that you are a few older than your brother, and by that I take it that your brother is 18 years old or older. Essentially at this point neither of you have authority over the other. Even if your brother was under age, you really have no authority over him that your parents did not give you.

Now regarding respect… you can only expect respect from someone equal to the respect you give. Even then it is a dicey situation. Your brother seems like the type of person who feels a need to dominate in his relationships. Short of essentially having a discussion with him telling him that you feel like he is being disrepectful of you as a person (not as an older brother), I am not sure there is much you can do.



Basically, the idea is that I don’t care for any authority, we share one parent who is not really an issue here as the brother is going to be adult this year and I’m 24, I get less respect than I show him and as the tradition here emphasises age difference/birth order between siblings, I have a problem with his bossy behaviour at times (not normally but frequently enough he behaves as if the traditional roles were reversed) as grossly out of tune with tradition, politeness and all. It’s been an issue with our shared friends who are of my age as well. If it were a cousin, I’d tell him to go play with bees and I generally wouldn’t care, but this is a brother. I’m afraid of showing weakness by talking to him about respect the open way since his personality and behaviour suggest he could take it like that.


Perhaps check with your parent regarding the behavior. There might be years of experience there, and knowledge of things you didn’t notice when you were a kid.


I would agree with mchale that with adult brothers, one does not have any right to authority over the other, regardless of whether one is older, wiser, or more successful. Your brother’s remarks suggest that he is rude an immature. Don’t let his behavior determine your own. I think it is important to treat him with the same basic courtesy and respect that someone who is your brother should be treated, regardless of how he treats you. I just would treat him with enough emotional distance that he gets the message - both that you are not happy with him and that you are mature enough *not * to get into a power struggle with him.


give him some noogies and dunk his head in the toilet :smiley:

I can understand what you are saying. I have 4 older brothers. I’m the only girl. I know when I was around 18, I got too big for my britches and really got on their nerves!!! As I got older, it all evened out. I’d say we’re all pretty equal now. (I’ll be 29 in June, oldest brother just turned 38)


I’m 4 years older than my younger brother. We used to fight all the time as kids/teens, but now that we’re both over 40 (I’m 45), we’ve become friends. He’s very kind and respectful toward me, but I am toward him, as well. I’m eleven years older than my youngest brother and the middle boy and I helped raise him when our mother found herself having to divorce our father (not her fault). That’s a whole different dynamic altogether. He doesn’t exactly say, “Yes, sir,” or “no, sir,” or anything like that, but we don’t have a relaxed relationship such as he has with the middle boy. It’s not a tense relationship, but I would say it’s more like a parental relationship. One acts differently around friends that one does around parents, and I would say he acts around me as I would act in front of my parents and grandparents rather than friends or colleagues.

I guess I would remind you of one thing that you may not like (I sometimes didn’t): For the rest of your life, YOU’RE the older sibling. It’s your job to set an example (“arrgh!”). And that means acting the way your supposed to act even when it isn’t fun or convenient. On a base, venial level, there will be a payback. A friend of mine went home with me to visit my family one time. She said that she watched my brothers and I interact and that my brothers very obviously thought I was someone special. That was a moment of humbling gratitude.

Pray for your brother, if nothing else.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.