Dear Barb – Relative Issues

Dear Barb:

My younger brother is in his twenties and is wasting his life. He works sporadically at dead end jobs. He has no initiative or ambition. He doesn’t even care about his appearance, as when he goes for a job interview he doesn’t dress appropriately and his hair is halfway down his back. I have been trying to talk to my parents about him and they say just leave him alone, he will come around eventually. I think they are enabling him since they are always lending him money, which he never repays. When he asks me to borrow money, I refuse as I work too hard for my money to give it to him. I paid my own way through college and now I have a good job. I suspect he may be into drugs, but I don’t know for sure. I love my brother and want him to have a better life, but I don’t know what I can do to help him. I would appreciate any advice you could offer. Thanks Mark

Hi Mark:
Thanks for your question. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do to help your brother, except to offer him support and encouragement. If he has a drug problem, he is the only one who can seek help. Also it sounds like he may have some depression as well. Perhaps your parents know more about the situation than you and that is why they are being so tolerant. Have you talked to your brother as a friend, not as an older brother who is trying to fix his life? People often tend to be more open to an accepting and supportive friend. On the other hand, this may be the life your brother has chosen for himself, if that is the case, you will just have to let him be and accept him as he is. Good Luck Mark.

Dear Barb:

Love your column, read it every week. I have just completed my degree and landed a good job. I have been away at school, but recently I moved back home temporarily until I can get some money saved up. The problem is my parent’s home is a pigsty. I don’t remember them being this bad when I lived at home. The dishes are piled up in the sink for days, the floors are so sticky you can hardly walk on them and I don’t think they have vacuumed for months. Sometimes I start cleaning hoping my mom will join in and help, but she just sits around watching TV, so I figure why bother. Is there anything I can do about this, or should I just let them be? Katie

Hello Katie, congrats on obtaining your degree, that’s quite an accomplishment! People are unique and what may appear neat and clean to one may not be to another. Ultimately it is up to your parents how they chose to live, whether that is neat and tidy or messy and dirty. It is their home and up to them how they manage it. However if it really bothers you, perhaps for a special occasion you could present them with a gift certificate from a home cleaning service. Perhaps when they see how much better their home looks after being cleaned they may be motivated to maintain it. Hope this helps, thanks Katie.

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.