Dear Barb – Taking Advantage

Dear Barb:

I am the oldest of four; I have two younger sisters and one younger brother. My parents have always been hard on me and I tried to accept this because I was the oldest and had to set an example for the younger ones. When my youngest brother was in his early twenties he started abusing drugs and to support his habit he began stealing money from our parents. My parents are not rich and they know he is doing this, but they keep making excuses for him. This is coming between me and my parents as I don’t think they are helping my brother by allowing him to continue doing this. My sisters agree with me. I have been trying to get my parents to report my brother to the police, but they refuse, saying he is their son and he is just going through a hard time. I hate to see this happening to my parents, but I don’t know what I can do to stop it! Thanks, Chris.

Hi Chris:

Thanks for writing about this unfortunate situation. Parents often feel responsible when they have a troubled child, as if they did something to cause the problems. Usually this is not the case, as it takes a combination of factors to cause someone to choose the wrong road in life. I would suggest that you and your sisters stage an intervention with your parents. It may be easier to report this situation to the police if they have the support of all their children. However, before going to this extreme, perhaps you, along with your siblings and parents, could approach your brother and find out what is going on with him. Attempt to determine if he has a drug addiction or if something else going on his life that is causing him to act in such a reprehensible manner. Sounds like he may need some professional support from a counselor or rehab program. Hope this helps, good luck Chris.

Dear Barb:

I have a quick question, I have been told something in confidence about a family member. The problem is I know that this information could significantly help this person, but I’m not sure if I should break my confidence. Do you think I would be warranted in breaking a confidence to help someone who is having significant problems and ultimately would benefit from knowing this information? Thanks Stan.

Hi Stan:

This is always a tricky situation. Perhaps you could approach the person who told you the information, suggesting that they privately disclose this information to the family member. If they adamantly refuse, then you will have to make a judgement call as to whether this information really needs to be told. If it is beneficial to someone’s health or well-being, you may have to take the chance on losing this friendship in order to help a family member. If it will not significantly benefit someone, then I would not divulge this information. This is undoubtedly a difficult call to make, but it is your decision. Thanks for your question, Stan.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.