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Goldenstate
Nov 13, 2005, 05:00 PM
Hi there,

This is my first post, but I have been lurking for a bit. It seems like you guys give pretty good advice and I could really use some. This is going to be long, I apologize in advance.

Mom history:
I think my mom is an enabler or a co-dependent, I'm not sure which. I think it started when she was growing up because her sister had a bit of a physical disability, disfigured hands, but she can write and do everything people with normal hands can do. Anyway, she was completely coddled by my grandmother (btw, grandfather was a bad alcoholic and my grandmother put up with it until he died of cirrosis(sp?) of the liver) and then when my grandmother passed away my mom took over protecting and helping my aunt. Eventually, in her late 30s my aunt did become self-sufficent, but only because my mom started a business with her and gave her a job.

Brother problem:
Here is a little background on the current situation. My brother is 7 years younger than me. I was a good student and was taught at a young age to respect my elders and do what I was told, which I did. (I was the "smart" one.) Then my brother came along, he was treated totally different, and had trouble with school, partially due to dyslexia (that wasn't discovered until jr. high), but mostly because he didn't respect any authority, including my parents or his teachers. (He was considered the "creative/sensitive" one because he liked music.) He never listened to my parents and would basically just ignore them when they told him to do something or do such a bad job that they would end up making me finish the chore. He was never held to the same rules of accountability as I was. Basically I was the babysitter and maid for the family and he did whatever he wanted. (Yes I will admit there is some old resentment on my part because of this different treatment.) And the worst part was being told that it was my fault he couldn't do things well because I "set the bar to high" for anyone to follow, so he couldn't be expected to be smart like me. *sigh* The same thing was also said about my cousin who is similar to my brother. I even tried to help them with homework and stuff but they didn't want help, they wanted me to do it for them, which I refused to do.

Finally when I was 19 I moved out on my own and have been totally self-sufficient since that time. Unfortunately after I moved out my brother had absolutely no controls on him and I wasn't around to talk some sense into him. So he started ditching school and hanging out with a bunch of losers and my mom let him have his friends over and drink and smoke and basically do whatever he wanted. (Funny, she never wanted to be the "cool mom" when I was living at home.) It was like the opposite of sexual discrimination, I was expected to be perfect but my brother was "a boy" and "boys get in trouble".

Ok so fast forward to today. My brother is going to be 33 years old in a few months and - you guessed it - he still lives at home and although he has moved out for short periods in the past decade and even managed to father a child, he still lives like he is in high school. (Of course having given mom a grandchild when I don't want kids has only made it worse.) He still has friends who come over and drink and do drugs, (the ones who haven't grown up yet) and he occasionally gets a girlfriend who will sleep over (although why these girls would be interested I can't imagine) and my mom gives him drug.. cough.. er gas money and pays for his speeding tickets and medical bills, etc. Hell half of the time she even pays his child support!! At christmas, she buys presents for everyone in his name, she brings him dinner home everyday, at family dinners he won't even come eat with us, he will show up with some friends after we have eaten and they will grab plates and go to his room to eat. I don't think he has ever held a job for more than a couple of months and most of those jobs have come through friends because he won't go look for one.

The thing that really bothers me the most is that my mom has always worked really hard for the money she has earned. But she can never get ahead because she is always "rescuing" people. She owns her own beauty shop and has worked really long hours for as long as I can remember. However, due to my brothers mooching she will probably never be able to retire. She is starting to have health problems, she is getting rheumatoid arthritis(sp?) in her fingers, and having back problems. But my brother doesn't even care about that, he just assumes she will always take care of him.

My parents even bought a house in Arizona where they would like to move and retire eventually, but my mom won't retire because they would have to take my brother, and they can't retire and support him at the same time. (Also, she is currently letting my cousin, who is pretty much like my brother, live in the house rent free because she just had twins, bringing her total to 4 children, but she only has custody of the latest ones. But that is a whole other problem.) Needless to say, my family has "issues".

Personally, I think my mom likes to have people dependent on her. I get the impression that she resents me at times because I don't need her help. But both me and my dad are getting really sick of her supporting my brother. My dad can't stand my brothers laziness and irresponsibility, but my mom won't let him kick my brother out, so this is a constant source of contention between them. There has even been talk of divorce. I don't want my mom and dad to get a divorce. My parents deserve to retire and enjoy some time doing what they want, not be stuck taking care of a son who won't grow up. So anyway, that is my dilemma. Has anyone had any success dealing with a situation like this?

By the way, I also just ordered my brother 2 books about dealing with dyslexia and another about growing up, but I sincerely doubt that he will read them. But I have to at least give him something that might offer him a way out. I just can't watch my mom get taken advantage of like this anymore. And I really want my brother to grow up and be a responsible member of society. Is that wrong?

I'm sorry this is so long, I just wanted to tell the whole story. I hope it wasn't too confusing. I am hoping someone with a similar problem will have some ideas.

Any advice is appreciated.

letmeno
Nov 13, 2005, 07:17 PM
I think every family has at least one story similar to this one. In my case it is my grandmother who has taken in freeloading offspring and grandchildren. My uncle has always been the one to help my grandmother's ends to meet when she is unable to because she has spent her hypertension medication money on pampers for one of her great-grandchildren. I think that to some extent he (my uncle) is jealous of the relationships that my grandmother has with some of her other children and grandchildren. This consumes him from time to time, just as I can see that the whole situation is consuming you. But my mother who is the neutral party in all of this says... If this is what makes her happy why are you so worried about it? In my opinion, I honestly think that my grandmother would go to sleep and never wake up again if she didn't have a house full of people depending on her, it angers me to see someone take advantage of my grandmother, but taking care of people is what she lives for. If I were to ask my grandmother to do something for me that she was unable to do, she wouldn't have a problem in this world telling me that she could not do it. So, she is capable of telling people NO if she wanted to. Nothing is going to change until your mother want this to change. She, just as my grandmother does will defend the moochers to any and everybody who has anything negative to say about it. Does your mother ever complain about what is going on? Does she ever seem unhappy? I am sorry to say that I don't think that too much is going to change until she is ready to change things. Just because you and your father don't approve of the way that things are that is not going to put a stop to it. I am sorry again because the way that your brother is living is dead wrong, but if he has never had to grow up then why should he.

fredg
Nov 14, 2005, 05:32 AM
Hi,
Welcome to this site, and I am sure you will get many answers.
Yes, this is normal for some families; maybe a lot of them. Had the same situation with my wife's family.
There are only two things you can do.
If you have talked with your brother, and it didn't make any difference, then he doesn't want to change.
If you have talked with your mother, and she doesn't want to make him leave and stay gone, then she doesn't want to change.
There are free groups where one can go and talk with others, who have experienced similar problems. Maybe you can find one to take your mother to. Such as, a group for parents of troubled children. I know your brother is not a child (or at least in age anyway), but if your Mom could hear others talking about be an "enabler", then she might get the idea.
Other than that, you have done all you can.

Goldenstate
Nov 14, 2005, 05:29 PM
... Does your mother ever complain about what is going on? Does she ever seem unhappy? I am sorry to say that I don't think that too much is going to change until she is ready to change things. Just because you and your father don't approve of the way that things are that is not going to put a stop to it. I am sorry again because the way that your brother is living is dead wrong, but if he has never had to grow up then why should he.
Actually my mother complains about my brother quite a bit, but no matter how much she dislikes the situation, she won't put him out on the street and my brother knows it. The worst part is I really want my brother to get a real life, and I know as long as he is allowed to get away with it, the situation won't change.

s_cianci
Nov 14, 2005, 07:52 PM
Yes, your mother is definitely an enabler and doing a grave disservice to your brother and the rest of your family. I can actually relate to your situation in that my own family dynamics are somewhat similar. I am an older sibling and my sister is 6 years younger than me. I was a lot like you ; the conformist , the honor student, the Eagle Scout, the successful college graduate, etc. My sister, on the other hand, is a lot like your brother ; rebellious, disrespectful, high school drop-out, alcohol and drug abuser and, at age 36, is still living with my parents in their retirement home in Florida, not having been employed for over a year and a half. She was married for about 4 years and has two teenage children who live with their father 1200 miles away, as they did not want to accompany her and my parents when they relocated to Florida almost 2 years ago (yes, they had been living with my parents up until that time.) To make matters more complicated, he has recently sued her for child support and full custody, with the judge ruling largely in his favor, considering the ages of the children and their expressed desire to live with their dad. My parents have likewise made the mistake of enabling her by supporting her for the last 6 years and her kids for 4 of those 6 years, without requiring her to hold a job and contribute to the household finances. Before relocating to Florida she spent much time bouncing from job to job and running around with men in unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships which served to compound her problems. Now, there is something of an explanation for why she's been the way she's been all these years. Although it doesn't excuse her behavior it does call out for a certain measure of compassion. I have recently learned (less than a month ago) that she was molested by one of our uncles at the age of 8 and was nearly raped by a neighbor a few years after that. The similarities between my sister and your brother make me wonder if he was likewise the victim of some similar sort of abuse at a young age that has left him emotionally wrecked - it may be worth looking into. This knowledge was hidden from my family all these years. My mother has likewise just recently learned of it and, to the extent of my knowledge, my father is still unaware. Like I said, it doesn't excuse anything but brings a lot of closure as to why she's been so rebellious, angry and despondent all these years. As far as receiving the necessary counseling to deal with it all is certainly beyond my level of expertise and calls for a competent professional, if such help can ever be made available to her. Your brother may likewise benefit from professional therapy to confront any deep-rooted traumatic events that may have contributed to him becoming the way he is. Try not to be too judgmental and see if you can "explore" the past any and possibly turn up some explanation as to why he's the way he is. A harder question to answer is why are your parents so enabling. Like I said, until recently my own parents were totally ignorant so it's not like they were somehow blaming themselves and trying to alleviate any possible feelings of guilt, at least not for what actually happened to her. If there were any guilt feelings they were for things imagined with no real substance. Perhaps your own parents are plagued by similar feelings of guilt, perhaps for things that they themselves are not toally aware of. Try not to be too angry or resentful towards your parents or brother. Keep in mind that you're far better off than he is and wouldn't want to trade places with him for anything in the world. That's how I've always felt towards my sister.

Goldenstate
Nov 15, 2005, 07:38 PM
I have recently learned (less than a month ago) that she was molested by one of our uncles at the age of 8 and was nearly raped by a neighbor a few years after that. The similarities between my sister and your brother make me wonder if he was likewise the victim of some similar sort of abuse at a young age that has left him emotionally wrecked - it may be worth looking into. This knowledge was hidden from my family all these years. My mother has likewise just recently learned of it and, to the extent of my knowledge, my father is still unaware.
Well that is an interesting thought, but thinking back, it isn't very likely that anything like that happened, unless it was when he was a bit older. When we were younger and I lived at home, I was his primary babysitter and other than going to my grandparents and my great aunt's house, we weren't usually in the care of other people. Not that its impossible, but I can't think of anyone we knew who would have been around to do that.

He has been this way since he was very young, and I think most of it stems from the fact that he learned early that he can outlast my parents, if he ignored them enough they would just give up and let him do what he wanted. My parents used to sleep with the TV on, my mom claims that she can't sleep without it, he used to sneak into the living room or wherever they were and sit and watch TV. They would send him back to bed and 10 minutes later he would be back out there. Also, he slept in my parent's bed until he was like 12 which I always thought was really weird. They even tried to lock him out of their bedroom and he would wait until late at night and then use a butter knife or something to get the door open. He was always there when they woke up, I don't even remember when he completely stopped doing it, I must have moved out of the house by then. (I used to joke that one day my parents would wake up with him and a girl in the bed.)

Also, the school problems stemed from a couple of issues. One, he had no respect for the teachers and my mom bought the claims that the "teachers didn't like him". So it was always the big mean teachers, never his fault. Number two is that he was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia, but as we all know that can be overcome with diligence and effort, but he is too spoiled and lazy to ever do anything but use it as an excuse. Three, ineptitued was always an acceptable excuse for not doing something so he learned to be inept. And the last thing, he learned from my mother. She had very convenient migraines and other generic headaches and they always seemed to occur when there was something she didn't want to do, so my brother picked up this habit and suddenly whenever he didn't feel like going to school he had a "headache". And my mom let him stay home, so his attendance at school even from a very early age was not the best. Even now, whenever my mom tries to make him do something he pulls out the old "headache" routine. And since she uses it as an excuse sometimes, she can't really call him on it. (I do know that she really does have real migraines at times, but when I was a kid, you could tell the difference.)

Anyway, enough of my rambling. That's my thoughts on how he ended up being the way he is. I hadn't thought about the sleeping in my parents bed thing for a while, I still think that was way weird.

:)

Sassy4556
Jan 30, 2006, 10:05 AM
Yours was an all too familiar story. Tell your mother how you feel. Your brother needs to get a real job, and move on with his life. Your mother is doing him no favors by coddling him. Trust me... I had a cousin who moved out at 40. It's no picnic for your mom or Dad. Good for you that you got your life together.

bizygurl
Jan 30, 2006, 01:18 PM
The problem seems to be pretty simple, your brother was never made to be held accountable for anything. If that was made clear to him at a very young age and expected as he grew up, like it was with you. He may have turned out to be a very different person. Im sure everychild in a family structure will have harder issues with this than other children. But it's a parents responsibility to be the role models and instill these values in there kids.

I went through an almost exact situation when I was growing up. Im the oldest of three kids and the only girl. I can empathize with you that I felt I was held to a higher standard and "expected' to be the good one and accountable one, where my brothers, it wasn't as expected. Both my brothers had hard times in high school and got away with so much that if I ever commmited any of the acts they did, I would have gotten thrown out of the house on my a--.

My mom is also an enabler when it comes to her "boys" They are 21 and 25 yrs old, plenty capable of dealing with there own problems. I look at it as they wanted to move out so bad then let them deal with real world problems.

Your mom like my mom does sound like she does feel that she is needed I think when your children grow up its hard on some parents especially mothers. But the problem is its doing there kids more harm then good. Your brother has never been taught that consequences have actions or has never been accountalbe for anything, and as long as your mom just sits by and lets him take advantage of her and your dad he will keep on doing it.

The guy is 33 years old. He needs to grow up and move out and stop loafing off your parents. He should want them to be able to enjoy the second half of there life in peace and not have to constantly worry about him.

Your mom shouldn't feel that she has to take your brother to Arizona, that's crazy. He needs to leave them alone and get out in the real world. Your mom should tell him he needs to start looking for a place to go. Im sure that will be difficult but sometimes tough love works, and lets face it this shouldn't be a reason for your parents marrige ending, I hope your brother knows that and gets some sense knocked into him.

giggles
Jan 30, 2006, 04:08 PM
The real problem here is not really your brother but your mother!
Here you are trying to sort out her problems... because she is letting your brother walk all over her, as everyone else has done.
Fair play to you for being able to get your independence and have your own life. But don't enable your mother now that you feel sorry for her. She has completely ruined your brother, and I think if anything, you should point this out. He has been let away with being responsible for so long, that he can't function as a proper adult.
And I'm sorry, but I think this is more than a little f*&ked up on your mother's part. Why didn't she let him go and push him out into the world? The damage is long done. Why hasn't your father kicked him out? So it's coming close to divorce is it, and your mother still insists on cosseting her son? This is crazy carry on. Your mother unfortunately, has passed on the pattern she herself grew up with - and you are in danger of continuing it. STAY OUT OF IT. If she wants to play martyr, let her. Your father might not stick around, but perhaps that's where you get your healthy attitude from.
You cannot change her mind or opinions. You cannot "grow" your brother up, even by giving him books. If anything, I think it's your mother who needs the help. She has been your brother's scapegoat all his life. Now he's an adult, he should stand on his own two feet, but no, your mother is QUITE happy to play mom to him. This is crazy carry on. Try and see if she will talk to someone. The scars she carries, are still bleeding, and its not good for her, but there is only so much you can do.

Fr_Chuck
Jan 30, 2006, 06:45 PM
Hi there,

This is my first post, but I have been lurking for a bit. It seems like you guys give pretty good advice and I could really use some. This is gonna be long, I apologize in advance.

Mom history:
I think my mom is an enabler or a co-dependent, I'm not sure which. I think it started when she was growing up because her sister had a bit of a physical disability, disfigured hands, but she can write and do everything people with normal hands can do. Anyway, she was completely coddled by my grandmother (btw, grandfather was a bad alcoholic and my grandmother put up with it until he died of cirrosis(sp?) of the liver) and then when my grandmother passed away my mom took over protecting and helping my aunt. Eventually, in her late 30s my aunt did become self-sufficent, but only because my mom started a business with her and gave her a job.

Brother problem:
Here is a little background on the current situation. My brother is 7 years younger than me. I was a good student and was taught at a young age to respect my elders and do what I was told, which I did. (I was the "smart" one.) Then my brother came along, he was treated totally different, and had trouble with school, partially due to dyslexia (that wasn't discovered until jr. high), but mostly due to the fact that he didn't respect any authority, including my parents or his teachers. (He was considered the "creative/sensitive" one because he liked music.) He never listened to my parents and would basically just ignore them when they told him to do something or do such a bad job that they would end up making me finish the chore. He was never held to the same rules of accountability as I was. Basically I was the babysitter and maid for the family and he did whatever he wanted. (Yes I will admit there is some old resentment on my part because of this different treatment.) And the worst part was being told that it was my fault he couldn't do things well because I "set the bar to high" for anyone to follow, so he couldn't be expected to be smart like me. *sigh* The same thing was also said about my cousin who is similar to my brother. I even tried to help them with homework and stuff but they didn't want help, they wanted me to do it for them, which I refused to do.

Finally when I was 19 I moved out on my own and have been totally self-sufficient since that time. Unfortunately after I moved out my brother had absolutely no controls on him and I wasn't around to talk some sense into him. So he started ditching school and hanging out with a bunch of losers and my mom let him have his friends over and drink and smoke and basically do whatever he wanted. (Funny, she never wanted to be the "cool mom" when I was living at home.) It was like the opposite of sexual discrimination, I was expected to be perfect but my brother was "a boy" and "boys get in trouble".

Ok so fast forward to today. My brother is going to be 33 years old in a few months and - you guessed it - he still lives at home and although he has moved out for short periods of time in the past decade and even managed to father a child, he still lives like he is in high school. (Of course having given mom a grandchild when I don't want kids has only made it worse.) He still has friends who come over and drink and do drugs, (the ones who haven't grown up yet) and he occassionally gets a girlfriend who will sleep over (although why these girls would be interested I can't imagine) and my mom gives him drug..cough..er gas money and pays for his speeding tickets and medical bills, etc. Hell half of the time she even pays his child support!!! At christmas, she buys presents for everyone in his name, she brings him dinner home everyday, at family dinners he won't even come eat with us, he will show up with some friends after we have eaten and they will grab plates and go to his room to eat. I don't think he has ever held a job for more than a couple of months and most of those jobs have come through friends because he won't go look for one.

The thing that really bothers me the most is that my mom has always worked really hard for the money she has earned. But she can never get ahead because she is always "rescuing" people. She owns her own beauty shop and has worked really long hours for as long as I can remember. However, due to my brothers mooching she will probably never be able to retire. She is starting to have health problems, she is getting rheumatoid arthritis(sp?) in her fingers, and having back problems. But my brother doesn't even care about that, he just assumes she will always take care of him.

My parents even bought a house in Arizona where they would like to move and retire eventually, but my mom won't retire because they would have to take my brother, and they can't retire and support him at the same time. (Also, she is currently letting my cousin, who is pretty much like my brother, live in the house rent free because she just had twins, bringing her total to 4 children, but she only has custody of the latest ones. But that is a whole other problem.) Needless to say, my family has "issues".

Personally, I think my mom likes to have people dependent on her. I get the impression that she resents me at times because I don't need her help. But both me and my dad are getting really sick of her supporting my brother. My dad can't stand my brothers laziness and irresponsibility, but my mom won't let him kick my brother out, so this is a constant source of contention between them. There has even been talk of divorce. I don't want my mom and dad to get a divorce. My parents deserve to retire and enjoy some time doing what they want, not be stuck taking care of a son who won't grow up. So anyway, that is my dilemma. Has anyone had any success dealing with a situation like this?

btw, I also just ordered my brother 2 books about dealing with dyslexia and another about growing up, but I sincerely doubt that he will read them. But I have to at least give him something that might offer him a way out. I just can't watch my mom get taken advantage of like this anymore. And I really want my brother to grow up and be a responsible member of society. Is that wrong??

I'm sorry this is so long, I just wanted to tell the whole story. I hope it wasn't too confusing. I am hoping someone with a similar problem will have some ideas.

Any advice is appreciated.


Yes, live you life your way, love your mother because she is your mother and realise she is an adult and you can't run her life as she is trying to run others life.

Making a deal will only hurt your relationship with your mom. Unless she wants and is willing to do hard love, and she is not and most likely may never be willing to. He will be there till she almost loses everything and then he will find a way to blame her for the way he is.

Wish I had a good news or ideas but basically it is the way it is, and you are not going to change them.