Dear Barb – Taking Advantage

Dear Barb:

Every year I help my mom host Christmas dinner for our family and every year it turns into a big hassle. I have three brothers and only one has a wife, so the boys don’t bring any food. My mom and I make everything, however It’s getting tough for my mom. What really bothers me is that my brothers all have children and they don’t watch them. The guys all go downstairs and watch football or whatever, while my mom and I are making dinner and watching the kids. My mom is getting older and I know this will fall on my shoulders eventually. I have asked my brothers to contribute to dinner, but that didn’t go so well, as only one brother brought some buns. We all love getting together for Christmas, but I don’t think my brothers realize how much work this is. I’m not sure how to resolve this. Do you have any suggestions for my family? Thanks Jane.

Hi Jane:

I’m pretty sure the scenario you describe plays out in many households over the Christmas season. My suggestion would be to call a family meeting without your mom, and explain to your brothers that mom is getting older, as often adult children don’t want to see their parents as aging. Suggest that if they want to continue having family get-togethers, they are going to have to help out. To make it easier for your brothers, maybe you could order some fruit or veggie trays or side dishes from your local caterer and have your brothers pick them up and pay for them. This is an easy fix that doesn’t require a lot of preparation and your brothers will feel that they are doing their part. As far as the care of the children, you will have to work that out with your brothers. Perhaps bring the children downstairs while you are preparing dinner and tell your brothers that you will let them know when dinner is ready. These are difficult situations, but not impossible to resolve. Thanks for your timely question.

Dear Barb:

My brother recently separated after ten years of marriage. No one in the family really cared for his wife, but we all accepted her and treated her with kindness and respect. One of the problems in their marriage was that she would spend money and run up credit cards and not tell my brother where the money went. Still, he was generous to her at the time of separation, with the support of our family, but he felt bad for his young son. Recently, she contacted him and wants to get back together for the sake of their son. We were all devastated when he agreed to the reconciliation. My mom thinks my brother’s ex has spent all her money and now wants to come back. She also thinks my dad should talk to my brother about what he’s doing. I don’t think my dad should get involved because my brother is a very stubborn person and I don’t want there to be problems between him and my dad. What do you think? Thanks Rosie.

Hi Rosie:

I don’t think it would be a problem if your father made sure your brother has really thought this decision through, but then let it go, as it is not your father’s place to question his decision. Your brother is an adult and these are his choices to make. Sometimes a separation does help a marriage, especially if the individuals have done some counseling, either together or individually.

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.

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