'Pushy' Givers


I have a brother who is nearly 40, living at home, and owes my folks upwards of $35k in legal fees from a nasty divorce and custody battle that he has turned his rights over in. He is constantly buying my parents wine and chocolates and other gifts they have neither want nor need for rather than just forking over the cash, or better yet, just getting his own place!!! He recently gave me $50 for my son’s savings which I’m honestly contemplating giving to my folks. He is always wanting to buy stuff for me or my son and I am to the point where I am fully prepared to tell him to make an ‘offering’ to mom and dad in my ‘honor.’ I am getting the feeling that all this gift-giving has little to do w/ the wants or need of the recipient, and more to do w/ his need to feel fulfilled as a provider or do-gooder of some sort.

Recently, he and his gf pretty much invited themselves to crash at my home for a night - they live 3 hrs from here. They wanted to treat my husband and I to dinner for our anniversary the weekend before. I never offered my place b/c we literally have no room - we are newlyweds in our first home. So he slept on the floor in the office, she on the floor of the nursery. And neither of them is shy about voicing their disgruntles as much as they pride themselves on being cheery good Catholics. So I got to hear them complain about my hard floors the next morning. Nevermind I’m overly sensitive b/c of my raging hormones during this pregnancy and the fact that I had unwanted houseguests who generally annoy the living daylights out of me.

I didn’t make a continental breakfast b/c I thought they were just going to get up and go in the morning and we were a little strapped anyway, we ended up treating them to dinner. So then I had to hear how disappointed they were b/c they were looking forward to a big bang breakfast! How rude! Not to mention that he brought up that mom ‘suggested’ that he and his gf get a hotel room so they wouldn’t be a burden to us - I had confided in her earlier in the week, but he really should have just kept that to himself, or taken her advice!

That day, my brother’s gf bought a table that she didn’t have room in her car to transport, so I have the privelage of using my lunch hour to go pick it up and house it until they can make arrangements to take it home. I should have never offered to help!!!

The following weekend, I can’t remember how many times my brother drilled me about what my plans were for the weekend and how many times I told him that mom and I were just gonna dawdle and I’d look him up afterwards. Every trip it seems we just kind of hit the same spots or hang around the house. After driving 3 hrs one way w/ a little one and only getting to stay for a couple of days, you have little energy for much else. But he swore that since we had a longer visit this time, that we should really get out and do stuff. That sounds jolly good, but there isn’t much I get excited about doing w/out mom and dad as a buffer between me and my overly-energetic and excitable brother and gf.

He was in my face the minute I got there even tho it was late and perfectly clear that I just wanted to go to bed - he wants to have a pow-wow and plan away every waking second of my visit. He was there when I got up and we got dragged into breakfast, which might have been tolerable, but then his gf showed up. Every 5 minutes I’m getting the 3rd degree about what I want to do next. I’m thinking, breathe in, breathe out, maybe blink a couple of times - would that be alright w/ you? And my brother was stepping on my toes about what I allowed my son to have - such as a spoon or butter knife at the breakfast table. He even went so far as to take it away from my son and put it out of my reach so I couldn’t give it back to him! And then he was constantly trying to tear my son out of my arms and saying things like, ‘let your mom be.’

He offered time and time again to detail my car even thought I kept shooting him down. He even went so far as to make a deal that he’d clean my car if I gave him a pedicure (I am a non-practicing licensed cosmetologist and I have his gf a pedi once for her bday). I just told him that I wasn’t doing anybodys feet this weekend. Our last day there, as I’m waking from a mid-morning nap and getting out of the shower, mom hits me w/ her hair color that we’ve neglected. I oblige her, but then my brother’s gf comes over and asks if I’d have time to do hers too. I told her no, that we’re leaving in a half hour, mom’s hair isn’t done yet, and we still have to eat lunch and pack up.

Good grief!!! How do I shake/deal w/ these people? As long as he lives under my folks’ house, I will not have a moment’s peace just w/ my folks. Possibly I could get my mom to ask him to just ‘be gone’ when I come to visit. Or tell me when he’s gonna be at work for the weekend so I can come for a visit. He and his gf are there every waking and departing moment!!!


Let me see if I understand -

  1. you are angry about whatever the arrangement is between your brother and your parents in terms of the money he owes them. From what I gather you were not asked by your parents if you thought it was ok for them to loan him the money and you have no idea what agreement was reached between your parents and your brother but you are sure they are being taken advantage of - which leads me to believe your parents are completely incompetent when it comes to managing their own finances and that’s why you are worried?

  2. your brother loves you and wants to do things with you and this just drives you bananas.

  3. you are pregnant and really seeing the world through hormone-colored glasses, which you are pretty darn wise enough to recognize.

Why not give yourself a break? Stop demanding so much from yourself - taking care of Mom and Dad, trying to be a friend and play pal to your brother…why not tell him, in confidence, that you think you are losing your mind, it is more than likely because you are pregnant and that you really hope he knows that you love him even though right now you might be tempted to back the car over him if he keeps acting so darn happy and cheerful around you all the time…in other words, treat him like a brother, do it with humor and stop expecting yourself to be perfect…I just hate to see you worrying about stuff that, quite frankly, is none of your business and you cannot do a darn thing about…from the way your write I can tell you have a great sense of humor…USE IT…

or not…what do I know?


I have a sister who is like your brother.

They get things their way because they are willing to ask and even push for it.

If you don’t want to be part of it. Say “NO”.

It may be difficult at first, because being a “no” person, and not giving in may not be your nature. But if it means that much to you, do it.

Often we make up excuses about why we keep playing along with things that we don’t want to, don’t agree with, can’t afford. But the real reason is that we are not willing to push back as hard as they push, and are not willing to live with the consequences.

Maybe we are afraid of being labeled mean or crabby, or whatever.

It took me a long time, but I learned to say NO to my sister and her antics. And the nonsense ended, she took her prattle elsewhere. I still watch her weaver her psychotic magic on others, but that is their business.

that is what I learned from my own experience. And having done it once, it does get easier.


Dear JL,
With all honestly, I have read both of your posts, and I think you need to spend more time of figuring out how to change yourself than how to change your family and co-workers.
There is no doubt that pregnancy can make us irritable, but that doesn’t change how we are called to behave. You did indicate that you think your co-workers are getting the idea that you are grumpy, and mistakenly thinking their kindness will help you. You are assuming the best of intents for them, and that is good, most of us assume the worst intents. In any case, it does sound like no one/no thing, is pleasing to you right now, and you need to then recognize the problem is in you, not in them.
I find it praiseworthy in today’s world that your brother and his gf agreed to sleep in separate bedrooms, and on a floor. (not that they should have expected more, being that they were unexpected company)
I will echo what the previous poster said. The arrangement between your brother and parents is none of your business, and I say this as a sibling who really struggles with feelings of having been “left out” or “abandoned”, particularly with regards to financial benefits. I’ve come to realize that I have a good marriage, beautiful children, and a relationship with my Lord that (at this point) they cannot claim, so truly I am much better off.
The news recently has made much of a new book about Mother Teresa, and the revelation through her letters that she did not feel that which she portrayed to the world. I’ve not read the book, but contemplating her and praying for her intercession, might help you. She was in the midst of the hardest work, and probably lots of the most difficult people, day in and day out for 50+ years. (imagine how grumpy some of her poorest of the poor might have been) Yet she smiled and bore witness to the whole world. Praise God!
I, too, and 31 weeks along with my 7th, and I’m trying to overcome all that I’ve said to you here. I recently realized just how much I was complaining, moaning and groaning, so I’ve made it my priority for the next 8 weeks to smile, and to refrain from sharing my every ache and pain with those who ask!


JL, It’s really hard sometimes when you post on CAF looking for a little sympathy and to blow off steam to only hear some gentle rebukes.

You obviously have a pretty crazy brother who doesn’t have people skills or money skills. He wants to show love by giving gifts even when it isn’t prudent. He’s hungry for friendship and doesn’t recognize boundaries. His gf seems to be cut from the same cloth.

I’m sure your parents love your visits. It’s wonderful that you visit despite the irritations of your brother. I know when I visit my parents, I hope to be pampered and appreciated a little. I want my kids to be admired and my parenting skills to be praised.

It’s obvious that your time with your folks isn’t the nurturing time it should be for you. Young moms should be supported and loved. Having young children and being pregnant is a very stressful time in our lives.

You are there to visit your parents, but he is viewing it as you being there to visit them and him as well.

You can’t really do much about the situation, so might as well enjoy the sanctification! :wink:


I’d call the Dr. Phil show for an intervention. Couldn’t hurt.


JL seems to have indicated that she has only been upset by this as a result of her pregnancy, and her discomfort.
I, for one, am not suggesting that they are not irritating, I am only encouraging her to increase in virtue herself, because such situations are an opportunity for sanctification, as you point out at the end of your post.
It does not seem that it would help the situation much to offer any other pro-active suggestion, as these people are merely irritating and not perpetrating some evil, which would require a far different response.


I didn’t mean to criticise your response. Actually I agree with it.

I was trying to speak to JL on an emotional level.

I know I’ve been at wits’ end, posted for some support/relief/and perspective. It is hard when you get the perspective without the support. :slight_smile: So, your post was perspective while I intended mine to be more supportive (not as a negation to your post, but as a complement).

I can see how my initial post looks critical of yours, but I wasn’t intending it that way. Oh, the limits of this media! So many miscommunications…




Thank you leonie for putting in words what was on the tip of my tongue - about people who do not know boundaries. My problem is not them so much as it is about being clear and honest and unashamed to set and stick to my own boundaries.

I must clarify that the reason I am so ‘involved’ in the financial situation between my brother and my parents is that my mother is very forthcoming about things like that when really they are none of my business. She is not shy about telling anyone the loads of money she spent on a pair of shoes or what they sold their house for or things of that nature. So naturally, instead of nipping it in the bud and telling myself that it’s none of my business and that she and my dad and brother should work it out, I feel somewhat responsible.

I guess I’m a little proud too, half expecting some sort of validation that everyone else in my life is nuts and I’m not. Funny thing how all these people seem to be in MY life - it’s all a matter of perception and mine is the one that needs changing. Thank you for all of your advice and words of wisdom/support.

Yes, I too have heard about the Mother Theresa book and the blurb about how she didn’t always ‘feel’ as charitable as she acted. It’s much like the matter of fact that the mass and the Eucharist are what they are in all their glory and profound nature whether we ‘feel’ it or not. Pretty cool, but also humbling that the world doesn’t hinge on our feelings!


No difficulties like that on my side of the family (I have no siblings) but there is a life style difference between our family and my wife’s 2 brothers. Whereas we prefer a quieter, home-centered life, they tend to be more of the “let’s get out and do something” types. My wife sometimes had to say “no,” and it’s not wrong to do so.

Once, a few years back, they boys got the idea to drop everything, and take their father on a cruise (he was near 90 at the time), and really pressed my wife to go along. It would have been difficult if not impossible for her locistically, and the idea of tedium on a boat had no appeal to her whatsoever. When she said no, they got the idea to take her neice along instead, and she really liked it.

So a polite but firm “no” can not only save a person a lot of grief, but can open the way for enjoyment for someone else. There’s nothing wrong with an honest “no.”

As for their relationship with your parents, no wisdom comes to mind on that one from me.




Find and read a good book about setting boundaries. Then do what the book says.

People only walk all over you if you let them. Seriously. Do it now before they start the same stuff w/ your child. —KCT


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