By: Revanche

A Presumptuous Proposal

March 23, 2010

 Subtitled: So this is what it’s like, parenting.

Be forewarned, this here’s a rant. 

The codependent sibling has struck again.  This time, he’s proposing that he move the family to cheaper housing [don’t ask me how he thinks it’s going to be a) attainable, b) affordable, or c) tolerable as I have done my research on this front already], while he stays at the house with the dogs who wouldn’t be allowed in apartment housing, and renovate so that he can sublet to his prospective coworkers.

Leaving aside the costs of moving and maintaining a whole new household, the insanity of depending on him to renovate the house, and the utter lunacy of trusting him with my dog’s life and health, it’s like he’s a newborn babe innocent to all the ways of the world. [A thirty year old newborn.]

He really thinks it’s as simple as that summed up statement there.  If I were crazy, foolish, or suicidally inclined, I might be tempted to say, why not? Let HIM take some responsibility for once.  Except I’m not any of those and the second everything fell apart, I’d be asked to take over.  Aw heck no!

This is the guy who hasn’t managed to pay $200 in rent once a month on time for more than 6 months.  This is the guy who couldn’t keep up with his car payments more than halfway through the term, before abandoning the payments to me.  This is the guy who evidently thinks I’m a moron and will cede to his Big Plan. Based on what? The essence of fairy dust? 

Instead of smacking him upside the head Gibbs-style (ask Mrs. Micah or DebtHater what I mean 😉 by that), I listed just a few responsibilities “taking over the house” entailed, off the top of my head:

1. Are you prepared to feed and care for the dogs? Can you feed them on time every day, no excuses? Can you clean their ears, clip their toenails? Can you bathe them twice a month? Can you get your dog fixed? Can you pick up after them every single day?
2. What are you going to do when one of them gets sick?
3. Can you keep every public room in the house clean, vacuuming everything once a week, cleaning the windows once a quarter, washing the floors once a week?
4. Can you wash the dishes after every meal and wash down the kitchen once a week?
5. Can you turn off every unnecessary light in every room?
6. Can you make sure that no faucet, sink or tub in the house or the garage leaks?
7. Can you make sure that the windows are airtight?
8. Can you live without running the heat or the a/c?
9. Can you pay rent in full, every month, on time?
10. Can you pay the water/trash payments in full, every month, on time?
11. Can you pay the gas payments in full, every month, on time?
12. Can you pay the electric payments in full, every month, on time?
13. Can you pay the insurance payments in full, every month, on time?
14. Can you pay for groceries and gas after paying all those expenses without resorting to credit cards, borrowing money, or otherwise using money you haven’t already earned and received?
15. Can you live on what’s left after paying all those expenses without resorting to credit cards, borrowing money, or otherwise using money you haven’t already earned and received?
16. Can you make sure that the subletters pay their rent money to you on time to cover all of the above bills that you cannot handle on your own?
17. Can you make up the difference between $2500-3000 a month if your renters don’t pay you without resorting to credit cards or borrowing money?
18. How long can you subsidize your friends when someone doesn’t pay? You do know that just your living here doesn’t force them to pay?
19. Unless you have a legal written and signed document, you have very little power as a landlord. But the converse is that evicting someone for non-payment is extremely difficult in the state of California. You have to be unpaid for between three to six months before you’re allowed to evict them.
20. Who will be responsible if there’s an emergency?
21. Who is going to be responsible for a lawsuit if one of them or one of their friends gets injured on the property? You will. As the “landlord” you are legally responsible for injuries that occur on the property whether or not you were there to witness it.
22. How are you going to make time to renovate the house while going to school, working and managing finances for renters when you’ve never done the first two while managing your own finances responsibly consistently?

Now I think I’m going to go smack him upside the head.  Honestly!! I have so many more things on my plate to deal with, I don’t have time to raise a 30-year-idiot. 


Alright, fine. I’m a liar. I’m still in parenting mode. Because instead of just dismissing him and walking away, I’m giving him rules to abide by if he really wants to prove he’s serious about making things right.  I am not sticking around to make him toe the line. Either he does it or he doesn’t, I’m not ceding any rights

1. You lay out what your classes are from now until you graduate on a calendar.
2. You calendar when you will be looking for work that’s related to your degree or what comes next after graduation and how you’re going to make it happen.
3. You list out on a spreadsheet what the cost of school is, how much is covered by the government and what you will pay out of pocket for tuition, fees and books.
4. AND you show on a calendar your registration dates and the tuition due dates.
1. You continue to work and earn at least $1000 a month.
2. You set out a budget that I approve in which you lay out how much money you’re earning against how much and what you’re spending. That will include a line item for rent, amount and due date set for the same time every month. It is your responsibility to make sure that I receive payment in full, on time.
3. You note your cash and every single item you spend on in the spreadsheet.
4. At the beginning of each month, your first payment is rent, at the end of every month, you post your spreadsheet with receipts.
1. Whatever you think needs work needs to be scheduled to let everyone know what and when you’re doing a project and how long it will take. Renovations inconvenience everyone and you need to reduce that inconvenience as much as possible.

Does anyone want to start laying bets what kind of response my counter-proposal will get? 

22 Responses to “A Presumptuous Proposal”

  1. Mrs. Micah says:

    I really wonder what makes some people who have no control on their lives upgrade their plans to something even grander before they even take control of what they had. Maybe it’s because their reasoning abilities are already flawed and they think they’d do better in a different circumstance.

    Sounds like you’re giving him a fair chance to prove himself an adult. If he passes that, then maybe he’s finally grown up. If he doesn’t agree or doesn’t succeed, then you gave him a chance.

    Good luck! *hugs*

  2. That sounds like a fair deal, though I think that a 30-year old should know to do that.

  3. I really hope he can grow up and take care of himself so you won’t have to worry about him & your parents. I’m not trying to be pessimistic but I can’t see him changing… okay, I’m pessimistic about this. Good luck!

  4. L.A. Daze says:

    Let’s say miracles can occur, pigs learn how to fly, and your brother agrees to all these rules. This is what I can see happening: once his co-workers or friends move in and pay their share of the rent, he will pocket that money and not pay rent, instead wasting it on frivolous things. He will fail to tell you, or simply lie about it. And a few months down the road, you’ll have to clean up the mess…yet again.

    You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

    But do post his counter proposal! I am curious.

  5. eemusings says:

    You go, girl.

    I guess it’s a case of grand ideas, no followthrough. Good intentions or not.

    I hope he can sort himself out and start taking some responsibility, so you don’t have to carry it all.

    Let us know what he says!

  6. Abigail says:

    If he still is loony enough to think he can do it, why don’t you have him try living there with the parents for a weekend? Then tape it and sell it as a reality show for huge profits which WILL let you move the parents to a nice new spot!

    Or at least the first part.

    And this guy is completely deserving of the Gibbs smack. (He’d be the first to admit it’s a smack of love!)

  7. Sure, I can hear the response right now:

    “No problem, Sis! Of course I’ll do all those things.”

    Salted with a liberal dose of indignation that you would patronize him by bringing up these niggling details…

    Where, seriously, does he propose to warehouse the parents that’s “cheaper”? It’s freaking California, for hevvinsake.

    Take dog with. Don’t leave dog behind. Argh!

  8. Ack. As if you didn’t have enough on your plate already.

    As blunt and maybe even negative as it sounds, I think I have to agree with LA Daze. He hasn’t proven himself to you yet, and this plan of his sounds like his biggest idea yet…which equals a bigger downfall, that you’ll probably have to clean up (again).

    I say make him prove as much on your list as he can FIRST – and if he can do that, then give him a chance with the house.

    Good luck, and hugs to you hun.

  9. Shelley says:

    You’d have a lot lighter load if you just “Thanks, but no.” You may not be carrying him financially (or maybe you are, I don’t remember), but you are still carrying him emotionally, as in part of your baggage. Put him down and let him find his own way. He’s old enough, really.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like you and him have some bigger issues at hand. It’s like you are angry at the male population in general.

    Are you angry at men?

  11. Sense says:

    Not even worth a second of your time…he can’t even take care of himself, let alone a renovation and a dog and school and work and parents and subletters and on and on…

    it’s hard when you want your siblings to be capable, dependable people with whom you can share a burden. I think it is very important to give family second and even third chances–as many chances as it takes, really–but in this case, you have enough to deal with right now than to try to monitor your brother’s attempt at adult life.

  12. Mrs. Micah says:

    Wow, sounds like Anonymous has some issues if his own. 😉

  13. ctreit says:

    I don’t want to sound harsh but I will sound harsh. I think you may not diagnose the problem correctly by calling him the codependent sibling. It sounds more like he is the dysfunctional one and you are codependent (on his dysfunctional behavior). You try to help him, show him the light, and save him. Maybe he has learned that you will be around to give him one more chance, which is probably part of the reason why he does not have much incentive to shape up. As far as I know, it is best to just let go. It may be difficult especially if a loved one is involved, but letting go makes your life a lot better and it won’t have much affect on his. I have a brother like this. I don’t even listen to his latest grand scheme anymore. So, he does not even bother me with e-mails about his plans, either. What a relief it is for me! And guess what? He is still doing the exact same things he was doing when I tried to help him – at least that is what I suspect.

  14. WOW. I would be somewhat concerned about giving him a list. That keeps you in the authority position–against which your brother can rebel.

    Can you just say no?

  15. Carolyn says:

    This is your OLDER brother???? Sigh. I’m sorry you have to deal with that. As if you don’t have enough on your plate already!

  16. Revanche says:

    @All: Thanks for the laughs. If you’re a long time reader, you might have noticed this is the most even-keeled response I’ve had to his grandiose idiocy. I’ve finally emotionally distanced myself much more than ever before and had to share because it was just … sad and funny.

    @Mrs.Micah: It’s just his M.O. He dreams big and has 20% follow through and 0% grasp of reality.

    I normally just shut him down without constructive comment but there’s a tiny spark that he *might* be starting to learn a lesson. If so, he can prove it. If not, no skin off my back.

    @Aspiring Minimalist: Certainly he *should* but just because he’s old enough to be an adult doesn’t mean he IS one.

    @Jersey Mom: I’ve since stopped holding my breath, I don’t *worry* about him per se so much as serve as a brick wall when it comes to him speeding off the plane of reality and taking my parents with him. He can do as he will so long as he keeps his mitts off my parents and their health.

    @L.A.Daze: You are too funny – I laughed ’til tears came because you’re exactly right. And that is *exactly* what I thought.

    @eemusings: ’tis! It’s all on him to grow up, I’ve told him point blank that I have no interest in fighting with him nor succoring him from failure to failure anymore.

    @Abigail: A moment of sobriety in the levity: I would never allow him to have control over my parents’ lives as he proposes. He has a “chance” to prove himself insofar as I cannot kick him out [Mom would have an aneurysm freaking out about him. I’ve been through this before] but he has zero rights and input on how the household is run. There are limits he shall not cross.

    @FaM: LOL if he dared speak those words, he wouldn’t like the results. He’s been trained that I *will* lose my temper if he tries to verbally manipulate me. And I don’t just huff and puff.

    Problem is dog LOVES his dog. And loves her place because she’s an outdoor dog. Where I’m going doesn’t have a yard where she can sunbathe or roam at will. But we’re figuring out the dog logistics. She may still come with. Dad takes care of her, anyway, and since I’ve jettisoned the moving-out plans, it should be business as usual for her.

    @Rina: No apologies needed, like I said, I said the exact same thing. Once I got over being ticked at being bothered with this tripe, I had to laugh because … really?? PLEASE.

    @Shelley: I had, years ago, but he’s been cut off financially long ago. He’s now only allowed to sort of live here because my Mom has a complete breakdown when she doesn’t know where he is and if he’s ok for more than a day or two. Since he’s been completely worthless in the way of supporting himself, I’ve had to allow him a roof over his head which is not a situation I like or condone, but unfortunately must tolerate for her mental health. When and if her decline reaches the point where she has to be institutionalized, and thus, probably couldn’t keep track of him, he’s out on the street.

    Emotionally, I have distanced myself from him more and more. I’ve finally reached a point where I don’t really truly care anymore, it’s up to him to perform or not. I know what the long term plan is and I’m moving on with my life.

  17. Revanche says:

    @Anon: Oh, you’re too cute. Thank goodness that I would never for a second believe my brother was representative of the male gender. If I did, I would hate them. Of course, if I did, I’d think he was normal.

    @Sense: LOL, I know, right? Not to worry, no monitoring here. It’s like releasing a message in a bottle. I have zero expectations. 🙂

    @Mrs.Micah: Haha, who knows, maybe it was a legitimate question? 😉

    @ctreit: I agree and disagree. I was being flippant calling him codependent, but should have specified that he’s codependent on my parents. To me, he’s just a manipulative con man who may or may not have the distinction of being dysfunctional.

    The dysfunctional label almost seems to be an excuse along the lines of, “oh he can’t help it.” Oh yes, he can.

    For years, I thought it was my job to make him get better but I’ve absolved that duty. The only reason this “dialogue” even happens is because once in a while, we run into each other. [Reason found above.] Maybe he’s in earnest this time but no one can convince me of it.

    So no, I don’t believe a word he says, I don’t intend to waste time interacting or debating with him.

    A response was merited because soon I will no longer physically be present to say “No, you cannot pursue this hairbrained scheme of yours.” I had to put a stop to the idiocy point blank lest he attempt a “coup” in my absence.

    But his M.O., as @Frugal Scholar was concerned about, is to argue if you give a flat no. I don’t intend to have an argument when I can point out where he’s wrong, clearly and quickly, and wash my hands of the matter.

    I’d love to have him out of my life, but I don’t have the right to tell my parents (beyond what I have done) to disown/abandon their son. Believe you me, if they were in the least bit cooperative on that point, they would have been moved to an undisclosed location and I would have disappeared alongside them. Sadly, as long as they’re alive, they will insist on having contact with them so any such move would be negated by their (in my opinion, stubborn and foolish) choice to keep in contact with him.

    @Frugal Scholar: Sadly, I’m the only authority figure he even pretends to respect. Where anyone else might contradict him, he’d simply lash out or ignore them. With me, he “frequently” actually listens or toes the line.

    @Carolyn: Yeps, this is the older one. It’s ok, this is the most at-peace I’ve ever been about the situation. It’s all in his court to change or not. I don’t rely on him for anything, and I don’t hold my breath hoping. Friends used to guilt trip me about that refusing to hope thing, but they’re wrong. I am not obliged to do any such thing for someone. If he reforms, that’s up to him. Not me.

  18. psychsarah says:

    Wow-what a rough situation! It certainly sounds like you’ve got quite the handle on it-unfortunately, it seems like you’ve had lots of practice 🙁 I hope this works out with minimal stress for you, as you already have lots on your plate these days.

    On another note, you’re inspiring me to deal better with a situation with my sibling (which pales in comparison, actually, can’t even compare with yours).

  19. Bart says:

    Aw heck no!

    I love that you wrote this.

  20. Revanche, intrigued by your blog. Stumbled upon it through another site. I’m on the east coast where there is also a large Vietnamese population. I go to a Chinese church that has a lot of Vietnamese refugees of chinese descent.

    In any case, I’ve observed a few people who are very similar to your brother here. Some are harder working, but lack ambition, fear of both success and failure, they are loners (even in a church they isolate themselves) and just in some kind of funk. One friend dropped out of college multiple times, now just working a dead-end job, another is in college but lacks any vision as to what he wants to do (i.e. wasting money).

    After reading your blog, I am wondering if there is some sort of therapy these “men” need or something that can bring them out of this depressing state. Something to empower them and allow them to see past themselves and their situation…

    In Proverbs these people are labeled: fools, lazy, sluggards…
    I’d still love him as a brother and because I love him, I’d kick him out of the house and let him grow up.

    That’s it from me, I like your blog and appreciate your honesty.

  21. Revanche says:

    @psychsarah: Thanks for the well wishes … I have sort of a handle on this with so many years of practice under my belt. I’m sure there are more to come, so I’m learning to handle it with a bit more grace than before.

    Best of luck with your situation with your own sibling, I’d welcome you to share your situation and solution down the road if you’d like.

    @Bart: 🙂

    @family finance: welcome, and thanks for your thoughts. I have observed the same situation with other families and other first sons (from my personal experience it tends to be the first son, but first daughters run to depression as well).

    I don’t know if it’s something unique to the Vietnamese population or simply more prevalent and more noticeable because it’s my culture.

    I do have a vested interest in learning how to effectively address that issue, especially if I choose to have a family someday.

  22. It sounds like a wild and grand plan that won’t take off for even 2 seconds.

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