Extended Family Issues

Hi everyone. I am hoping for some guidance. I’m 36 years old and I have one sibling. I have been out of our parents house since I was 19. My brother left around 19 as well, but he has never held down a job. Ever. My parents (who are far from rich) have chosen to pay his rent and all of his living expenses for the past 15 years. He has two children with two different women in two different states. He has never married. We were raised Catholic but my parents haven’t been to church since I was maybe 13… and when I bring it up now there is no interest. My parents are basically destitute because they have chosen to support my brother. My brother wants to be a rock star and my father supports that delusion. My mother doesn’t agree, but will not stand her ground and my father has no respect for her so she loses every time. I am at a loss. I can’t stand by and watch my grown brother continue to bankrupt my parents. If I try to discuss it with them, then I’m the bad guy. I “don’t understand”. This situation has completely divided our family. We have nothing to talk about. At all. When I go over there, all I hear is how hard things are financially. When I suggest putting a stop to the insanity, then I’m the one with the issue. My brother is very inconsiderate, rude, a pathological liar, a substance abuser and he also gets violent with his girlfriend. I’m so angry. I am so angry that my parents can’t even grab a quick meal out because due to this situation they have no money. I see them very much at fault for enabling this situation for as long as they have. My father let my brother drop of highschool his freshman year and they sat at home and smoked cigarettes and worked on his “garage band”. I mean … wow… I feel like I am the only person in my family with any sanity or responsibility. I feel like I am the only one of us that’s in the real world. How do I balance my complete lack of respect for my parents (after what they have continually allowed to happen) with the commandment to honor them? How do we continue to have any conversations or spend any time together at all when this situation is constantly weighing - it’s always the elephant in the room. Always. This has been going on for a very very long time. I realized today that I need some type of outside advice when I was ready to completely throw in towel on Christmas shopping for his kids. I have been trying since Thanksgiving to find out what I could send to them and he would not respond. Finally today he responds, I order stuff, send him a confirmation and he replies that he also purchased those items today. The same items that just this very morning he told me I could send. I’m ready to throw in the towel on all of them and worry that makes me a bad person or that I’m missing an opportunity to be charitable (not enabling, just helping). Any suggestions at all?

I can’t give you any advice, but I can offer sympathy. Our family has a similar problem, but to a much lesser degree. My youngest sister lived rent-free (& everything else free) with our parents after getting pregnant - & she has lived there ever since. Her son is 30 (and a great guy - he doesn’t understand his mother either). Our father died 2 years ago & she won’t leave the house so we can fix it up & sell it. :frowning:

I don’t think there is anything one can do in these situations. There is just too much craziness. Just keep praying & try to remain sane yourself. :gopray:

You’ve got a lousy sibling. There’s nothing to be done for it. If your parents want him to rot on their sofa, it’s their right to allow it. I would avoid discussing your brother with your parents at all. Don’t let him be the “elephant in the room”. Keep the elephant standing outside in the driveway.

My husband likes to remind me, “Think of the most average person you know. Then realize that half of America is dumber than that.” Sadly, it sounds like some of your family are not winning any prizes for their fiscal responsibility and life choices. :frowning:

That being said, whether your parents are foolish for enabling your brother’s responsibility, or fantastic saints for their excessive charity and self-sacrifice-- it’s not for any of us to decide. I know there’s a ton of guilt for living a nice, normal, stable, happy, comfortable life, and knowing that our loved ones are living in a turmoil, especially when it’s a turmoil of their own creation.

If your dad and your brother have united against you in terms of your being critical of their life choices, and your mom is a reluctant ally, then respect that choice, even if it’s not the decision you would have made. Pray for them, and smile and nod sympathetically every time they re-discover that their bad decision making has consequences. “That must be awful,” or “I’m sorry to hear that.” There are some people who just have to figure things out for themselves, and no matter how much good advice (“don’t try to run two? three? households on one budget!”) you give them, those sorts of people will never figure it out until they reach that conclusion on their own.

By the way, be involved with the kids if you can. Help them see what normal and stable looks like, if possible.

Thank you! That was very helpful. :thumbsup:

Thank you for sharing your painful family story. I am sure it was not easy for you it is obvious you are very torn and upset by all that has happened in your family life and all that continues to happen.

First of all I would suggest this, take whatever irritation you have towards your parents and your brother and do what you can to turn it into compassion instead. Just as you would have compassion for someone who has a broken leg, feel compassion for them as they have deeply wounded and broken souls. This will be very hard for you to do at first because it totally breaks the pattern that you have been in for years. They are lost souls, clearly this is not the plan that Jesus wants for them in their lives. Jesus wants us to be close to him! Jesus does not want your brother lost in drugs, violence and an immoral lifestyle. When you see your brother and you are tempted to get irritated, instead picture his soul and how lost and lonely he is because he does not have Jesus.

Same with your parents, they are in an unhappy marriage, have no financial stability and are desperately trying to hang on to their son by trying to “buy him.” Your parents are lost.

Remember too that the reason you feel like the “only one in your family with any sanity or sense of responsibility” is because of the love of God. Without Him we can do nothing and we are nothing. I am not trying to minimize your accomplishments but suggesting you try and change your mindset. I speak from experience in my own life. I am embarassed to say but I used to get very prideful and irritated with others for being less moral and responsible then I was, especially family members. Through prayer and deep conversations with God it became clear that I was only living the life I was living through the beautiful Grace of God.

Your poor family has not been blessed by God’s beautiful grace as much as you have. Love them, pray for them and pray some more. When you find yourself getting irritated then pray. You do not have to support or condone their lifestyle and I am not suggesting that, but if you let go of your anger it will bring you the peace that you so much desire. I would not offer them any more helpful hints either, even a small child can do the math to figure out if you are broke then you have to stop giving away your money! The fact is that your parents don’t want to stop. When you see them and are tempted to anger turn to Jesus, pray while you are there. Pray as you hear another story of how your brother messed up. Pray as you hear another story of how broke your parents are. Pray, pray and pray. I have been there and this is how I got through it. Hope this helps a little, God bless you.

It helped a lot! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such kind and thoughtful reply. It was exactly what I was looking for - but without telling me what I want to hear, if that makes sense. I needed some clarity but at the same time I’m open to changing how I deal and respond to the situation. I realize that I am essentially powerless to change this and it makes me sad that they seem to be choosing (consciously or not) their own misery. I can’t “fix” any of it, I can only pray and try to maintain my sanity (by the grace of God). Again, thank you so much. God bless you.

Your brother is mentally ill and your parents are trying to compensate for what they feel is a failure on their part. This you cannot fix.

Your parents have made their own decisions. While you would like them to be able to do nice little things, your brother hasn’t held a gun to their heads. They would rather do for him than eat out. Let them be.

What you can do is love your nieces/nephews and make sure that they know they are loved, wanted and have you. They have a selfish, delusional father and grandparents who seem to walk on water for the guy. I’m sure the love and stability you can offer will impact their lives the most. Even if they are states away, you have something to offer…love.

And they, as adults, may be what helps get your brother on track, if anything…or perhaps you and them.

I am in a similar situation, but it is with my husband’s brother. He is married, 2 kids and one more on the way. They are completely supported by my in-laws. They are capable of working, but choose not to, because they know his parents will give them whatever they want. Now that she is pregnant, it is even worse. She just drops the kids off with them every night so she doesn’t have to take care of them because she is “tired”. I am pregnant, too, and have 6 other kids to take care of, but I don’t do that. The thing that bothers me is that my husband and I always get stuck in the middle of it. Every family event is ruined by them. I am tired of it.

I get what the other posters are saying, but it is not charitable to let people continue in their sin without trying to say something. What about the spiritual work of mercy, “admonish the sinner”?

I think when you admonish the sinner, it’s usually when someone is sinning against you or God. In this case, its between your bil and sil and your in-laws. It’s none of your business.

It is my business when I get drawn into it and my kids are affected.

Drawn in? How?

Do you mean that you need your inlaws to watch your kids in an emergency and they aren’t there for you?

Do you mean that your kids feel they don’t get enough attention?

Are their cousins abusive to them?

Really, what your adult inlaws do is their own business. If your inlaws call upon you to help, then saying “no” is not getting drawn in, its being a grown up and caring for your own children.

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