My husband and I are in our mid-30s, have two children, and both have good jobs.
My brother’s 40, has three children and recently separated. He has a mid-level, steady job, but new expenses – e.g. divorce lawyer’s fees, moving from the family home, etc.
Our parents are in their mid-70s and have health problems. My brother doesn’t seem to care about the effect of his constantly relying on them.
He’s at their home almost daily, shows up with the kids at meal times, borrows money repeatedly, and asks them to babysit a lot.
My mother jumps to his every request.
But she’s getting just as stressed herself and has dropped ten pounds these last couple of months.
My father, who’s a diabetic, is always dealing with health issues, but recently looks visibly aged.
I’ve told my brother that he’s wearing them both down, but he dismisses me as the “lucky” one who can’t possibly understand his situation.
He’ll repeatedly mention that we’re living “in a cocoon” because we have good incomes and are a happy couple.
I’d even say he’s jealous and resentful, and it hurts me.
How can I protect my parents from my brother?
Your worries about your parents are valid. How your brother reacts to you – even his jealousy – is a separate matter.
Focus on ways to make things easier for your parents.
Some of the babysitting requests and mealtime drop-ins are unavoidable, especially since your parents probably want to nurture their grandchildren during this time.
Encourage your mother to keep some ready deli and quick-cooking foods on hand, so meals aren’t a burden.
Offer to have your brother and kids over for one lunch and one dinner weekly.
It’ll relieve your parents, show your brother you appreciate this is a tough time, and give normalcy to his kids being with their cousins and caring family.
Suggest that both your parents attend counselling to learn to draw boundaries without guilt.
Be direct – the more they take on their son’s situation as their responsibility, the more they’ll deplete their own strengths and be less help to him.
A neighbour on my street passed away a couple of weeks ago at 83. She leaves her husband, 85. They were a 15-year second marriage and had been a very happy couple.
Yesterday, I saw a For Sale sign on their lawn and went to ask her husband about his plans.
He was desolate.
He’d expected to stay on in the house, but his wife’s two adult children – who flew in for the funeral and left just days later - told him their mother had willed the house to them and he’d have to leave.
It seems she also left all her money to her children.
I’m appalled at their indifference! Is there any legal recourse for him regarding the house or any part of her will?
He definitely needs legal advice.
You can be helpful by making sure he has a contact name to call, and that he follows through or goes to a legal aid clinic if he can’t afford a lawyer’s hourly fees.
Questions for him to pursue: Whether there was a legal prenuptial contract, which he’d agreed to and understood at the time of their marriage.
Whether her will was signed or changed when she was under undue influence from anyone.
Whether there were joint bank accounts and assets, property and furnishings they acquired together for which he has rights, or rights to make a claim.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who has re-united with his former girlfriend 25 years later.
But she’s now started meeting up with her former sexual “flings” and talking about how great the sex with them used to be (December 31):
Reader – “This man should insist that his girlfriend get tested for sexually transmitted infections and he should go for testing himself.”
(Ellie – He’d written to this column that when they’d originally dated for a year while in University, they broke up ten or more times and “she cheated on me with anyone and everyone.”
He would leave her and she’d beg for him to take her back).
Reader – “If they’re now staying together, protection should be used until all the test results are in, and monogamy practiced for safety, not for moral reasons.
“Most important with regard to sexual health is to remember this: You are with every partner your partner has ever been with.”
Tip of the day:
Since divorce of a family member affects many who are close, be helpful, not judgmental.