'Parenting' my 50-year old younger brother

This is my first post. I found this group several months ago and felt compelled to join. I have not responded to any posts yet, as I just resumed gathering my thoughts. So many of your circumstances have similarities to mine.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments. I would love to read some of the recent posts in more detail.

My situation is unique, as I am posting as an older sibling who has taken on responsibilities as a 'parent' to my younger 50-year old brother. My brother lives on his own and has always held low-paying jobs and has lived check-to-check for most of his life. He refuses to budget and often is unprepared for minor emergencies and/or car maintenance, etc. He has no desire to learn new skills. And he blames everyone but himself for his situation. He also has an explosive temper, which prevents any constructive conversations.

Summary
  • My family is of Filipino descent (I am first generation)
  • I am the oldest of 3 children (I am 55; sister is 54; brother is 50)
  • My father passed away in Dec 2018 from sepsis (he was a paraplegic)
  • My mother (81) was pretty much been my father's caretaker for about 14 years (and prior to that was a housewife)
  • My mother could not afford to keep the house (only source of income is SS)
  • So we sold it and she moved in with my family (me, wife, 2 sons)
  • We have a very modest ranch-home and my wife and I have good jobs; not getting rich, but we save and do what we want to do for the most part.
  • We agreed that my mom would NOT 'pay' anything to live with us. However, she loves to cook and buys groceries and that is her happiness.
  • My mother's assets are basically the proceeds from the house sale and a few CDs that my parents started .
After what we went through with my father, my mother wanted to get her will done to avoid all of the questions I had to sort through to help my mom settle my father's things.

My mom is very frugal; basically she expressed that when she passes on, her assets be split among me, my sister, my brother and her grand-kids. So she takes her monthly SS check and does what she wants to do (and leaves the home proceeds and her CDs alone). She is slowing down, so I encouraged her to do things with her friends.

After my father's funeral, my brother told me he had a conversation with my dad a few weeks before he passed (and apparently my father said he would pay off my brother's credit card balance of $7,300). I was skeptical, so I asked my mom. And my mom had no clue. After asking my mom more questions, I found out that for many years, my parents have been enabling my brother by bailing him out EVERY time he asked for help. And he asked a lot. His credit card had been paid off twice, prior to him asking me.

So after a heated conversation with my brother (and my mother begging me to help my brother), I agreed under one condition:
  • The $7,300 would be considered an 'advance' on his share (when my mom passes)
Of course, that did not sit well with him, but I stood firm and said take it or leave it. He took it, of course, and paid off his card. With the estimated $260/month that he did not have in cc payments, he 'promised' to save for an emergency fund.

Cue forward 9-months later.....he maxed his credit card again and was struggling to make ends meet. WTF? That did not sit well with me at all and I feel he used my mom and me. AND he had nothing to show for it. (I found out he had been hiring hookers)

And when COVID hit, he lost several jobs and could not pay his rent or utilities. So my mom paid his rent and utilities for 2-months (and I told my brother that this too would be deducted from his 'share'.

I had a come-to-Jesus meeting with my brother and listed all of the things he could do to better his situation and decrease his expenses:
  • Get help with a monthly budget (his response: I don't need help)
  • Get a roommate (his response: I want to live alone)
  • Get a 1 bedroom (vs his current 2-bedroom apt) (his response: I don't want to move)
  • Get a 2nd job (his response: I'm too tired to get a 2nd job)
  • Get a better paying job (his response: I like my job)
  • File bankruptcy (his response: I don't know how to do that)
  • While unemployed for 2-months, I asked him to look into getting a CDL (his response: that costs money I don't have)
    • I explained to him that mom could help pay (of course it comes out of his 'share'), but it would pay off in the long run
  • I bought him a smart-phone and a tablet to help him get better connected and look for jobs
    • He brought the tablet over one day after having some issues with it (he said he spent the last 2 weeks looking for jobs); I looked up his browser history and it was all porn (morning/noon/night); no history of looking for jobs
  • Etc, etc. etc.
My mom doesn't know how to say 'no' to my brother, and she really does not understand what 'enabling' is.

I tried to explain 'enabling', but in our culture, the parent does everything they can for their children. Even if it's hurting them, as in my brother's case. My brother won't do the things he has to do as an adult, because my mom is willing to bail him out EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Sadly, my brother has decided to no longer communicate with me because he feels I am being too harsh on him.

And he only reaches out to my mom when he needs financial help. My brother knows there is a limit, and it is not much at all.

My mom just wants to help him whenever she can until she can no longer help him. But I insist that will not help him in the long run.

Part of me just wants my mom to just stroke him one check for his share and then go to the attorney to remove him from my mom's will. But we know he will waste it (and I really don't care anymore, as he's a grown man).

Should I just remove myself from all this madness? Or continue with the tough-love (with my brother & my mom)?
 

Crayola13

Well-Known Member
This sounds like people in my extended family. These people are master manipulators. Tell your brother you’re not a travel agent for guilt trips. If he comes crying to you because he gets syphilis from a hooker and needs money for antibiotics, don’t feel sorry for him. He knows what the risks are. There is nothing you can do for a fifty year old who has a childish mentality. People like him don’t have the ability to learn from their mistakes. No amount of help will benefit him in the long term.
 
This sounds like people in my extended family. These people are master manipulators. Tell your brother you’re not a travel agent for guilt trips. If he comes crying to you because he gets syphilis from a hooker and needs money for antibiotics, don’t feel sorry for him. He knows what the risks are. There is nothing you can do for a fifty year old who has a childish mentality. People like him don’t have the ability to learn from their mistakes. No amount of help will benefit him in the long term.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my long post. Appreciate your feedback. Originally I felt sorry for him, but as I found out more and more details, I no longer feel sorry. My lofty goal of having my brother being self-sufficient (while my mom is still with us) seems unattainable at this point.
 

Crayola13

Well-Known Member
My dad goes through this all the time with a certain member of our family. It’s easy to feel guilty, even though my dad shouldn’t. Some people don’t have the ability to think logically or learn from their mistakes.
 

ksm

Well-Known Member
Have you thought of a conservator or financial person to handle your mom's estate? That takes it out of your hands and your moms. I may not have the legal terms right, but my mom had someone pay her bills and manage her savings. So a third party got to make the decisions and do a yearly report to the court.

Have you talked to an attorney about a will? You want to make sure that his advances are legally notated.

Ksm
 
My dad goes through this all the time with a certain member of our family. It’s easy to feel guilty, even though my dad shouldn’t. Some people don’t have the ability to think logically or learn from their mistakes.
My mom is old-school from the Philippines, and she cannot see what everyone else sees. And my brother should know better.
 
Have you thought of a conservator or financial person to handle your mom's estate? That takes it out of your hands and your moms. I may not have the legal terms right, but my mom had someone pay her bills and manage her savings. So a third party got to make the decisions and do a yearly report to the court.

Have you talked to an attorney about a will? You want to make sure that his advances are legally notated.

Ksm
Thanks for responding. We had a will done for my mom shortly after my father passed. And I have been appointed the executor. I also have power of attorney. My mom and I have an appointment with her attorney to discuss updating the will to acknowledge my brother has received 'advances'.
 

BusynMember1

Well-Known Member
Can't your brother collect disability, foodshare and Medicaid? Bet he would qualify. Disability comes with a case manager who can help you all. I would tell him to get services or leave. Does he ever see a therapist? He should. Sometimes we need tough love or WE suffer and that's not helpful to us or our loved one whim we hope to help.

I know I am probably not taking cultural differences into account. I apologize. But nobody should have to take care of a 50 year old who won't even try in my opinion.

Hugs to you. Update us.
 
Can't your brother collect disability, foodshare and Medicaid? Bet he would qualify. Disability comes with a case manager who can help you all. I would tell him to get services or leave. Does he ever see a therapist? He should. Sometimes we need tough love or WE suffer and that's not helpful to us or our loved one whim we hope to help.

I know I am probably not taking cultural differences into account. I apologize. But nobody should have to take care of a 50 year old who won't even try in my opinion.

Hugs to you. Update us.
Thanks so much for responding. And no apologies needed. :) I am 1st generation, so I don't follow the customs my mom does.

My able-bodied 50-year old brother lives on his own; barely. He has a job making $12/hr. So after he pays his rent, bills and gas, he has less than $50/month leftover for food, etc. Paycheck-to-paycheck; maxed out credit card and no emergency fund. He drives a 22-year old vehicle that needs more maintenance than it's worth (and of course he always asks for my mom to pay it).

He stopped speaking to me when I told him he should get a 2nd job OR a better paying job. I also told him it was shameful for him to be relying on his 81-year old mom to supplement his income because he won't do what he needs to do to become self-sufficient. During the past 3 years, I've tried to communicate with my brother with kindness and understanding, but when I discovered he is just lazy and has no motivation to better his situation, I've been more harsh in my dealings with him.

My main focus now is my mom. But she has a hard time with how I am handling things. She feels I should do everything I can (since I am the oldest) to help him (even financially). She refuses to understand what enabling is. Sadly, some of my elders feel the same way as my mom too.

When my brother and I were speaking, I once told him that if he ever came to me and said he was going to be evicted, I told I would help him.....move things out. No help financially.
 

RN0441

100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Welcome

I don't think your mom will ever change. At her age, I probably wouldn't either, so I'd give up on that one.

I think you do need to remove yourself from the drama and do take off whatever money he is able to get from her off the top of his inheritance. My husband's family took $20k off one sister's inheritance and we knew she owed a lot more but we only found an IOU for that amount and were so happy we found that.

I wouldn't care that my brother didn't talk to me if that is the kind of person he is. He only cares about himself and who needs people in their lives like that - family or not?

Good luck with everything. You are doing the right thing!
 
Welcome

I don't think your mom will ever change. At her age, I probably wouldn't either, so I'd give up on that one.

I think you do need to remove yourself from the drama and do take off whatever money he is able to get from her off the top of his inheritance. My husband's family took $20k off one sister's inheritance and we knew she owed a lot more but we only found an IOU for that amount and were so happy we found that.

I wouldn't care that my brother didn't talk to me if that is the kind of person he is. He only cares about himself and who needs people in their lives like that - family or not?

Good luck with everything. You are doing the right thing!
Thank you for the welcome. Yah, my wife tells me that too (about my mom). As each day goes by, I am at peace knowing I am trying to do the right thing. At this point in my life, I don't need anyone in it that is a soul-sucker.
 

Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
I didn't read the others responses, so I don't know if I could be repeating myself here.

First of all I think your mom see's your brother as someone who has not grown up, and feels he's still a small child who needs help. For an older person on one hand I'm sure it feels good to be needed and she probably feels good about helping him, but then on the other hand I wonder how she worries everyday about what's going to happen to him when she is gone. I find it to be, well frankly disgusting, for a more than middle aged grown :censored2: child to do this to their elderly mother. But as it seems in your case it has gone on for so long neither your mother nor your bother know any different and I don't think you are going to be able to change that.

I know of another family where the mom has done this kind of rescuing, for many years, with one of her offspring. One who is well into the age of at least not tapping into her own mother's assets for her ongoing living expenses. And now the mother has no money left except her monthly Social Security. All of her long-term savings gone, and all proceeds from her 5 bedroom, 2 bath house gone. She bought a mobile home on rented property a few years ago and then a couple years ago had to bring in a friend to buy half in to cover half of her housing expenses because she was still being hit up for money. Now her friend wants out and she can't buy her out because she has no money, thanks to her loving child who continues to tap her for every dime she can get from her. This is a child who acts like she loves her mother, and really seems to care for her. I would like to slap that adult child silly. It's good you are looking out for your mother's interests and haven't let this happen to her.

You are stuck in a place of trying to protect your mother from your brother in case she needs her assets. I wouldn't worry so much about inheritance as much as if he blows through money she might need for herself while she is still here. And I think you know when her time is near most likely she will request that you continue to take care of him.

So:
1. You mentioned being Filipino. I know of a few who are Filipino's, so kind and caring comes to mind. This is just an aside, I can think of a two people who I am ever grateful for. Just mentioning this for them.
2. Do you have or can you get power of attorney for your mom if/when she cannot make financial decisions for herself so what's left of her money can be protected for her? Seems like it might be needed at some point.
3. You can't talk her into anything.
4. You can't talk him into anything.
5. You are not responsible for your brother, this is not a legacy thing that is being passed on to you. Many have figured out a way to deal once the "gravy train" is no longer available. I have a strong feeling he will use his "victimhood" to continue his lifestyle or maybe he will just change his lifestyle when he needs to. This article here on detachment seems like it could do you good: Article on Detachment | Parent Emeritus
6. If your mom ever asks you to continue to take care of him you can just say "he will be alright".
 

good vibes

New Member
When you wrote this post, I think there may have been a part of you that knew the answer. You asked "Should I just remove myself from all this madness?" I know it's not the answer you want to hear, but the answer might be 'yes'.

While your mother is alive and competent, she has the right to dispense with her savings. You were right to appeal to her by explaining 'enabling'. I think you should also appeal to her sense of fairness that she is giving away your inheritance while living at your home. To protect some of her savings, if you have a mortgage, you could also ask about borrowing part of it toward paying that down, then reimbursing her when it's paid. You may not care about her money, but those might be arguments that she better understands. However, if that doesn't work, the real change may have to be within yourself.

You were right to allow your mother to live rent free in your home. Money shouldn't be part of the family dynamic, you support your mother as she would have done for you. Your act of selflessness stands as a role model for your boys. By the same token, it was also wrong of you to lend that money to your brother for the same reason. Would your mother, father or sister have ever asked you for money? The answer might be 'maybe', but it would have involved such a compelling anomaly that it would have been warranted. In your heart, I think you knew that there was no compelling anomaly behind your brother's request. You may never see that money again.

You can appeal to your mother, but, failing that, this might be a dynamic of family politics that you can't control. I think the next step might be for you to discuss with your wife 'how' you can let this go. It's not fair. In fact, it's a type of elder abuse, but it's clear your mother doesn't see it that way.
 

Copabanana

Well-Known Member
Should I just remove myself from all this madness? Or continue with the tough-love (with my brother & my mom)?
Like some of the others, I see a third way.

Your brother won't change. He doesn't think he has any problems and I think you've got to just let that one go. If he doesn't want to talk to you, good. He seems kind of unsavory anyway.

I think your mother deserves your love and support. This is the classic "old country" split that happens with all cultures between first generation and their immigrant parents. It happened in our family too, of a different ethnicity.

I believe you show a great deal of respect and support for your mother, it's just that your views are different. While I believe she should focus on her security and not enable a grown man, it's not my (or your) decision to make, what she does. It's her money and her relationship with her child. You are not going to change her, I don't think. Just as you can't change him.

But that doesn't mean you should do anything you are not comfortable with. I suggest finding a caring and patient way to tell your mother that you feel that "helping" a grown man who chooses to spend his hard-earned money on porn and prostitutes is something you just can't and won't do. And leave it at that. You don't have to justify yourself any more than that, but neither does your mother have to justify herself for her choices of what she does with her money.

I recognize that there is great pressure on you to go along with the "old way." But the thing is, it sounds like it would go against a very strongly held moral position of your own. Nobody should be forced to sacrifice themselves in this way, even though there is a lot of cultural pressure to do so.

I think that as long as there have been immigrants to this country and the children learn the American Way, there has been this tension between generations and it is difficult and painful.
 
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ksm

Well-Known Member
Kind of a far fetched option... what about suggesting to her that she should gift the other siblings the same amount as your brother gets? You could set aside the amount she gives you to be used for her care if and when she exhausts her savings. Unless she has insurance set aside for end of life nursing care, it can be pricey.

I belive that the family members that step up and help an elderly parent should not be left the short end of the stick.

Ksm
 

Deni D

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.
Kind of a far fetched option... what about suggesting to her that she should gift the other siblings the same amount as your brother gets? You could set aside the amount she gives you to be used for her care if and when she exhausts her savings.
This sounds like a good idea.
 
I didn't read the others responses, so I don't know if I could be repeating myself here.

First of all I think your mom see's your brother as someone who has not grown up, and feels he's still a small child who needs help. For an older person on one hand I'm sure it feels good to be needed and she probably feels good about helping him, but then on the other hand I wonder how she worries everyday about what's going to happen to him when she is gone. I find it to be, well frankly disgusting, for a more than middle aged grown :censored2: child to do this to their elderly mother. But as it seems in your case it has gone on for so long neither your mother nor your bother know any different and I don't think you are going to be able to change that.

I know of another family where the mom has done this kind of rescuing, for many years, with one of her offspring. One who is well into the age of at least not tapping into her own mother's assets for her ongoing living expenses. And now the mother has no money left except her monthly Social Security. All of her long-term savings gone, and all proceeds from her 5 bedroom, 2 bath house gone. She bought a mobile home on rented property a few years ago and then a couple years ago had to bring in a friend to buy half in to cover half of her housing expenses because she was still being hit up for money. Now her friend wants out and she can't buy her out because she has no money, thanks to her loving child who continues to tap her for every dime she can get from her. This is a child who acts like she loves her mother, and really seems to care for her. I would like to slap that adult child silly. It's good you are looking out for your mother's interests and haven't let this happen to her.

You are stuck in a place of trying to protect your mother from your brother in case she needs her assets. I wouldn't worry so much about inheritance as much as if he blows through money she might need for herself while she is still here. And I think you know when her time is near most likely she will request that you continue to take care of him.

So:
1. You mentioned being Filipino. I know of a few who are Filipino's, so kind and caring comes to mind. This is just an aside, I can think of a two people who I am ever grateful for. Just mentioning this for them.
2. Do you have or can you get power of attorney for your mom if/when she cannot make financial decisions for herself so what's left of her money can be protected for her? Seems like it might be needed at some point.
3. You can't talk her into anything.
4. You can't talk him into anything.
5. You are not responsible for your brother, this is not a legacy thing that is being passed on to you. Many have figured out a way to deal once the "gravy train" is no longer available. I have a strong feeling he will use his "victimhood" to continue his lifestyle or maybe he will just change his lifestyle when he needs to. This article here on detachment seems like it could do you good: Article on Detachment | Parent Emeritus
6. If your mom ever asks you to continue to take care of him you can just say "he will be alright".
Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

Yes, you nailed how my mom feels about my younger brother. I'm 55 and she still tells me to wear a jacket when I go out to the mailbox on a cold day. :) And yes, I am totally frustrated and want to slap sense into my brother. And I agree that they won't change--- as years have gone by and as my brother got older and started to feel his age, so to speak, I've always hoped he would change. I could not look myself in the mirror every day if I lived like him.

My family (when my father was with us) could NEVER talk about the hard things. I moved out when I was 19, and although my brother moved out in his mid-twenties, he really was never 'on-his-own'. After my father passed away, I discovered so many things about their relationship.....my parents supplemented him for years and years. I always knew there was help; I just didn't know the extent of it.

And at this stage in our lives, I have tried to have the difficult conversations with my brother, with no success. And he knows he's screwing up and he knows how to fix it, he just doesn't have to because he knows my mom cannot say 'no'. SO I'm the heavy now in all of this. Whenever my brother asks for help, my mom tells him she has to consult with me. And of course, I deduct any amount and create a 'statement' to let him know where he stands. And as my mom helps him, he is a total :censored2: and is upset that everything is being accounted for.

  • 1. You mentioned being Filipino. I know of a few who are Filipino's, so kind and caring comes to mind. This is just an aside, I can think of a two people who I am ever grateful for. Just mentioning this for them.
    • thank you
  • 2. Do you have or can you get power of attorney for your mom if/when she cannot make financial decisions for herself so what's left of her money can be protected for her? Seems like it might be needed at some point.
    • I have POA
  • 3. You can't talk her into anything.
  • 4. You can't talk him into anything.
    • Agreed to both above; I'm doing better about that when there are times I want to interject
  • 5. You are not responsible for your brother, this is not a legacy thing that is being passed on to you. Many have figured out a way to deal once the "gravy train" is no longer available. I have a strong feeling he will use his "victimhood" to continue his lifestyle or maybe he will just change his lifestyle when he needs to. This article here on detachment seems like it could do you good: Article on Detachment | Parent Emeritus
    • I will read this
  • 6. If your mom ever asks you to continue to take care of him you can just say "he will be alright".
    • Last week, I had a conversation with my mom, and I was clear to her that I would not be there for him (after she is gone). Point taken. I need to just reassure her that he has no choice but to find a way.
 
When you wrote this post, I think there may have been a part of you that knew the answer. You asked "Should I just remove myself from all this madness?" I know it's not the answer you want to hear, but the answer might be 'yes'.

While your mother is alive and competent, she has the right to dispense with her savings. You were right to appeal to her by explaining 'enabling'. I think you should also appeal to her sense of fairness that she is giving away your inheritance while living at your home. To protect some of her savings, if you have a mortgage, you could also ask about borrowing part of it toward paying that down, then reimbursing her when it's paid. You may not care about her money, but those might be arguments that she better understands. However, if that doesn't work, the real change may have to be within yourself.

You were right to allow your mother to live rent free in your home. Money shouldn't be part of the family dynamic, you support your mother as she would have done for you. Your act of selflessness stands as a role model for your boys. By the same token, it was also wrong of you to lend that money to your brother for the same reason. Would your mother, father or sister have ever asked you for money? The answer might be 'maybe', but it would have involved such a compelling anomaly that it would have been warranted. In your heart, I think you knew that there was no compelling anomaly behind your brother's request. You may never see that money again.

You can appeal to your mother, but, failing that, this might be a dynamic of family politics that you can't control. I think the next step might be for you to discuss with your wife 'how' you can let this go. It's not fair. In fact, it's a type of elder abuse, but it's clear your mother doesn't see it that way.
Thank you for responding.

You are absolutely correct; and I tell her this all the time. It's not 'our' money or 'his' money; it's her money. And I tell my brother that--- but he always refers to funds as 'his share'. Hello McFly?! Mom is still with us, so there is no 'share' until she is gone. But to keep the peace and protect her assets, I have to present the scenario to my mom as 'shares' because that is what she understands.

Agree with you that it's wrong to help him. He asks as if he is 'borrowing' the funds. And my mom acknowledges that he would never pay it back. But at this point, if he were evicted because she did not help him, that would crush her soul and she would probably never recover from that. And I resent my brother for that possible outcome.

My wife has been very supportive and echos many of the same comments from all of you.
 
Kind of a far fetched option... what about suggesting to her that she should gift the other siblings the same amount as your brother gets? You could set aside the amount she gives you to be used for her care if and when she exhausts her savings. Unless she has insurance set aside for end of life nursing care, it can be pricey.

I belive that the family members that step up and help an elderly parent should not be left the short end of the stick.

Ksm
Thank you for the suggestion. That is one I have not thought of.
 
Like some of the others, I see a third way.

Your brother won't change. He doesn't think he has any problems and I think you've got to just let that one go. If he doesn't want to talk to you, good. He seems kind of unsavory anyway.

I think your mother deserves your love and support. This is the classic "old country" split that happens with all cultures between first generation and their immigrant parents. It happened in our family too, of a different ethnicity.

I believe you show a great deal of respect and support for your mother, it's just that your views are different. While I believe she should focus on her security and not enable a grown man, it's not my (or your) decision to make, what she does. It's her money and her relationship with her child. You are not going to change her, I don't think. Just as you can't change him.

But that doesn't mean you should do anything you are not comfortable with. I suggest finding a caring and patient way to tell your mother that you feel that "helping" a grown man who chooses to spend his hard-earned money on porn and prostitutes is something you just can't and won't do. And leave it at that. You don't have to justify yourself any more than that, but neither does your mother have to justify herself for her choices of what she does with her money.

I recognize that there is great pressure on you to go along with the "old way." But the thing is, it sounds like it would go against a very strongly held moral position of your own. Nobody should be forced to sacrifice themselves in this way, even though there is a lot of cultural pressure to do so.

I think that as long as there have been immigrants to this country and the children learn the American Way, there has been this tension between generations and it is difficult and painful.
Appreciate your insight and comments.

My mom is deferring to me (somewhat). At least she tells my brother that she has to discuss any requests with me. She understands there is a financial limit on the help she can give (based on my suggestions); her fear is that she will have not done enough while she is with us. And that absolutely breaks my heart.

The 'old way' continues with a lot of my relatives. But I am standing firm. I've been told several times by older relatives that I need to honor the 'old way'. I have really strong neck muscles from all of the 'shaking-my-damn-head'. :)
 
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