By: Revanche

The high costs of Parenting Fails, or a Bad Seed, Part 2

April 19, 2011

To continue my musings about the Monday incident, I was lucky enough that F wasn’t working on Monday so he, as one of my few IRL friends privy to the knowledge of my family, could talk through some of the boiling rage with me.

We both realized the two good things related to this incident.  
First, thank all the things that I’m no longer living at home. I was so angry that I was literally dizzy, continuing to live in that just isn’t good.
Second, things like this used to happen regularly. They probably still are, but I’m not on every case. The last shenanigan I know about was when he brought home a stray puppy he couldn’t care for. Like a five year old, he let it romp all over the house, found out that it had parvo virus when it vomited & had diarrhea all over, shedding virus everywhere. His own puppy wasn’t even vaccinated. [See, irresponsible.] And he’d exposed my very old dog to it as well. While vaccinated, very old dogs can still have compromised immune systems. [See again, irresponsible.] He cried like a baby instead of dealing with it. Then ran to me to fix it. Of course. 
While these specific things might not happen if I were home, I can’t be there all the time. The fact is, the occurrences that I still deal with are limited to those that wouldn’t happen if I were there, I haven’t been dealing with those Acts of Stupid that would happen no matter what. Selfishly, that’s much healthier for me.  

***************************

I keep thinking about the original sacrifices my parents made, and where they made culturally-influenced choices. Somewhere along the way, they stopped making what I understood to be the truly loving choice, the hard or harsh-seeming choice despite the guilt and pain. This wasn’t something they shied away from when we were children, so I have to wonder, what changed?

From having to deal with him myself, I can only say that I think there were definitely times when my parents’ style in adulthood was and still is counterproductive to the situation.  Giving him a helping hand is not helping him. It’s just enabling now.

For example, mostly from my dad,  “We wouldn’t ever ask a child:

— to pay rent, 
— to move out, 
— to find another way to get to work/school/where they needed to go if they were in need.” 
In essence, if they haven’t learned how to function independently or coping skills, they’ll never have to as long as we live.
That’s great from a purely selfish point of view: If I ever needed a hand, my dad would always be there for me. Fantastic. Of course, we all know that even though the offer is there, the most I’ll do is ask for home-cooked food. And I’ll pay for all the ingredients. Or a lift. He’ll get me from the airport.
But in the long run, that is also totally short-sighted. How up a creek would they be right now, or even five years ago, if I hadn’t figured it out?  And of course it’s not just for the sake of reciprocity but good gravy, for the right (wrong) person, it’s a crippling approach!  
From early on it was clear the sibling was a born spender, scammer and manipulator.  At the age of 4, he would memorize the stories he heard in class to recite back to my mom as she was falling asleep listening when it was his time to practice reading so he didn’t have to actually read.  He was essentially illiterate through third grade because he was such a good faker and she was exhausted going school and raising two kids.  Until she figured it out and gave him what-for, and intensive lessons, he wasn’t going to learn how to read!

Growing up, his “entrepreneurship” was all about making a quick buck and he quickly became notorious for his involvement in MLM schemes because of the number of people he convinced to waste their money.  Now he’s many times lazier. He expects praise for basic functions like managing to wake up on time in the morning without someone else waking him up. He’s 30-something

In the entire time that my idiot sibling has lived under our roof – he has never been required to ante up for his fair share of rent, utilities, or any living expenses, he has never been told to move out and be an independent adult who can earn his own living and support himself as a result of not contributing.  Basically, he has never been told he needed to grow the eff up according to any societal norms by my parents.  

Certainly, neither have I. But is fairness really the measure by which we ought to be parenting?

Until I barred the door after he made the mistake of moving out, mentally inflating his ability to earn an independent living and screwed it up badly running up his debt on crap and going out with his friends, until he was evicted and had nowhere else to go; until then, there were no consequences for him for not growing up.

For us, though, the consequences of being soft, of being too kind, of being too something will be lifelong.

The consequences we’ll have to live with, for our sins:

Action:
Sending him to private school, nearly $10K per year.
Consequence:
They didn’t even try to fund retirement. He graduated but went on to do absolutely nothing with that expensive high school degree.

Action:
Funding his repeated attempts to attend college and after flunking out, community college.
Consequence: 
Again, every penny on him. And as long as it was on someone else’s dime, it didn’t matter if he didn’t make it this time.

Action:
Not holding him financially accountable for running up household bills.
Consequence:
He learned to be wasteful and disrespectful of the resources in the household, and doesn’t contribute. He even had the nerve, when my mom was down to only $50 for her medical expenses, to take that money for himself.

Action:
Participating in his job search and subsequent jobbing as much or more than he does.
Consequence:
He just doesn’t appear to care if he has a job or not.

Action:
Letting him come back home after he’d left of his own accord.
Consequence:
Until I can move my parents out into a smaller home, I may well not be able to kick him out again.  This is a reality I’m not happy with.  I have no clue where he will go when we kick him out.  That’s not my problem anymore. It can’t be. Fending for him well into his 30s should never have been the game plan because as long as we’re taking care of him, he is not taking care of himself.  That’s just the way he operates and I can’t and won’t take away from my future family for his sake any longer. 

Action:
My parents were always trying to save him at every juncture, no matter the cost.
Consequence:
I was the unintended sacrifice, and our relationship has suffered greatly because of it.  I find it hard to relate to my parents as I once did, and I definitely don’t have a relationship with my brother anymore. But losing my brother isn’t really my parents’ fault. 

*********************

This is on my mind more and more as I approach a major life change myself, as I plan my impending marriage, the formation of my own family and even the possibility of my own children. The challenges of parenting are not lost on me.

Was it that one size fits all, culturally-based parenting was a bad idea? Or was something that couldn’t have been helped? This stuff is insanely hard. I loved my brother so much that I nearly had an ulcer standing up to him. I can’t imagine what hells my mother went through. And is still going through. I ask myself every day if I would be strong enough to do what it takes to parent my own children?  Especially with some chance that my children may inherit some genetic cocktail that produced him?

With him as an example, not being sure if strength, courage, tenacity and even ingenuity would have been enough to bring him into adulthood as a functioning and contributing member of society, I don’t know the answer to that question.

But in the aftermath of that Monday, I asked PiC if he could still love me if I put our child out on the street. If that’s what it took to get through to him or her.

And he said, If you could do it, of course.

It’s a question, I suppose, one must ask having been there and done that, but it should never get to that point, I should hope and pray. It shouldn’t have to get that bad. If we’d been doing our job before that, if we’d been parenting, and present, we shouldn’t, right?

One simply cannot know.

28 Responses to “The high costs of Parenting Fails, or a Bad Seed, Part 2”

  1. eemusings says:

    You have actually just articulated and voiced one of my biggest fears. What if, despite everything we’ve done, our child is simply no good?

  2. Cassie says:

    I don’t consider your actions to be selfish at all. If anything, they’re necessary for maintaining sanity in what sounds like a very damaging relationship.

    I don’t understand the ins an outs of your family’s culture, so I really don’t know what would or wouldn’t be well received. One thing that did stick out to me though was that you said your dad would never ask his child to pay rent, move out, or find his own way to get to work… In my family those decisions were made by the breadwinners (parents). In your family, you are the breadwinner.

    I know from reading some of your posts that your family does need the help, especially with your mom being ill, but I feel like they need a firm reminder that you are not your brother’s parent. If you’re expected to parent him, you should be allowed to evict him without them undermining you, or else the money stops. I understand that culturally that might be an unacceptable option, but when dealing with someone as manipulative as your brother you might have to take an uncomfortably hard stance somewhere.

    It feels horrible reading that you’re stuck in this position. I hope it can be resolved without it taking too much of a toll on you. Good luck.

  3. Too bad you can’t send him to join the military yourself. (And too bad we’re at war– it would be a more attractive option for him if we weren’t.) That’s sort of the time honored way of straightening kids out where I come from. A stint in the military and they’re ready to settle down.

    I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this.

  4. The Borrower says:

    I am the polar opposite as far as parenting, of your parents. I required all of our kids to work, beginning at 16. They had to also begin retirement at that time, save for college, save for a car and all expenses. I cannot express how many people told me I was too hard on my kids. Today, they have thanked me for my guidence into an “I can support myself” position.

    I feel sorry for your sibling, only because he will never know that sense of security or confidence in self. I hope your parents realize the damage they have caused. Although if he is in his 30’s…it may be too late.

  5. Quest says:

    I see definite red flags in the descriptions you give of your brother.

    If you want my honest opinion, potential drug use or just extreme apathy/laziness aside, I believe that there could possibly be two drastic things going on with him. I only mention these possibilities because I have had first hand experience with them:

    1. Your brother has a mental/neurological condition that is not readily apparent BUT it is manifesting itself in his inability to function in ‘normal’ society. For example, he can’t hold down a job and still lives at home in his 30s. He has no desire to leave because it is outside his realm of possibility and coping. This is a form of autism and it is just not possible for your brother to be independent. It’s a paradox because he may indeed be very smart and educated ~ makes no difference. People like this usually end up in a group home due in part to their poor impulse control (your dog story is classic) and lack of rational/critical thinking skills.

    2. He’s a sociopath. I know, sounds horrible and it is. Sociopaths aren’t necessarily all murderers although they definitely have that capacity. Unfortunately, I’ve known a couple of people who demonstrated this personality type in my lifetime and I can tell you that all they ever do is manipulate all day long. Every single thing they do is geared towards their own benefit, pleasure and satisfaction. They have absolutely no regard for anyone else although they are brilliant fakers and usually come across as quite intelligent. They most certainly have a criminal mind and scamming is the only way they can get by. You mentioned that he manipulates and scams as a means to generate income so that was a tip off. It’s classic behavior. Sociopaths never change btw. In fact, if your brother fits the definition of a sociopath, the best thing you can do for yourself and your new family is to get away from him as far as possible. Sociopaths have the ability to make one’s life a living hell when things don’t go their way and nothing is outside their realm of ‘getting even’ when they feel they’ve been wronged. You have to cut off ALL contact with these personality types but you do so gradually so that they don’t quite realize what’s happening.

    I feel sorry for your situation. I also feel from your posts that you are a smart lady who knows what’s what. Whatever the problem is with your brother, it is profound. If it does turn out that your brother has a neurological condition, what would the plan be? There is no cure for autistic type behaviors.

    If his behavior is purely pathological, would you be able to completely cut off all contact with him?

    Did you parents fail with him? Yes, in some ways they have. These antisocial behaviors must’ve manifested themselves all throughout your brother’s childhood. Did you notice it on a regular basis? Was he ever assessed, tested and treated? Or was his behavior denied and ignored? That’s a parenting fail if that’s the case. These types of kids need strong parenting and open acceptance/treatment of their condition. I’m talking about autistic type behaviors here though. Sociopathy is an entirely different animal.

    Is he a bad seed? Possibly. See sociopathic tendencies.

    Apologies for this being such a long comment. I can’t help but think that your brother has been living with an undiagnosed condition whether it’s something that could be treatable (serious depression) or something even more profound.

    I wish you luck in finding some answers because personally I don’t think that this is all about laziness.

  6. Grace. says:

    At some point, I’m going to post on the same issue (and when I do, I’ll link to your two posts) but you need to realize that there are NO good answers, then make a decision as to what you are going to do (or not do), then do (or not do) it, and forgive yourself if you have doubts about the choice.

    What I see most strongly is the hurt little girl who wants to know why her parents could treat her (the good child) so unfairly while catering to the bad boy. Not only are there no satisfactory answers to this, but with your mother’s mental health issues, there’s no real chance of her ever understanding your anguish. It is a completely ‘no-win’ situation for you. I just wish I had answers, but in the meantime, you do have my empathy.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It sounds selfish, but one thought my Wife and I had, was the same as eemusings; having a child is such a crapshoot. You can give all the love, attention, guidance and resources possible to a child, and still end up with one who is a thief, addict, user. etc. And it seems that you can have little true control over the result. Bad kids can happen to good families.

    All I can say is that you seem to have become the loving, responsible child that any parent would be proud to have raised. And you have gained insight and maturity beyond your years.

    I grew up with a difficult and abusive Dad and realized at an early age that I had to make my own life, which I happily did. Strive for happiness with your “family of choice” and create your own future happy life. Don’t let these problems hurt your other relationships. I agree, get some support and counselling.

    This too, shall pass. Good luck.

  8. Hi there! Just discovering your blog through this article so I don’t have any context outside of the article itself. Also, I’m probably your parent’s age or at least closer to their’s than I am to yours. Dealing with these issues from the viewpoint of your parents and not yours.

    What I wanted to reinforce that you say but perhaps not strongly enough is that there is this very long gradient from the absolutes you present a young child to the relationship I’m still foundering to establish with my (mostly) grown kids. It’s incredibly difficult to know where/when to draw the line and of course it’s not a one time delineation. Issues come up constantly and you must sort when it’s best to err on this side of the fence or on the other.

    Also, something that may not be readily apparent to you at your stage of life is the terror that the parent at my stage feels at perhaps losing the relationship that I had hopes would last a life time. Neither my wife or I had “close” relationships with our own parents that lasted into adulthood. In my case, I was by and large estranged from my dad from age 17-18 on until his death, but that was the extreme in the other direction. My point is that we hoped our relationships with our kids would end differently. To an extent, I’m guessing they will, but in other ways, I begin to see that further separation than I’d anticipated becomes inevitable and I’m struggling with that reality currently.

    So I guess I’m saying that I agree and find fascinating your observations. But in defense of your parents, I want to say to you cut them some slack while you still have them around.

  9. Naomi says:

    I’m here by way of the Consumerist, so although I’ve read your “About Me” page and some of the other linked posts, I’m not privy to the full story. So take this for what it’s worth.

    I think you need to set much firmer boundaries with your whole family — parents as well as brother. I’m REALLY glad you don’t live with them, but you have the right to live your own life for a while. The same mistakes your parents have made with your brother (making his problems their problems, bailing him out again and again, etc.) you’ve made with your parents.

    If you’re starting to think about having children of your own, I hope you’ll seek out some therapy, because I worry about the effects on your child if you go into it so terrified that any sign of irresponsibility, blame-shifting, laziness, etc. are an indication that your kid is going to grow up like your loser sibling.

    It’s totally normal for nine-year-olds to insist that if their homework didn’t make it to school, it’s YOUR fault for not putting it into their backpack. (It’s “normal” in the sense that biting at two is normal — which is to say, it’s something you want to work on getting them to knock off. But it doesn’t mean they’re a sociopath on the road to ruin, either.)

    I try to let my kids deal with the consequences of their actions — up to a point. When my older daughter forgot her clarinet on band day last fall, I went home and got it for her, even though this was an inconvenient hassle for me. She has shown a lot of responsibility this year with homework and remembering stuff — it was a lapse and not a pattern. Your parents clearly are refusing to accept that your brother’s issues are a pattern, and not isolated lapses. I worry that you’re primed, at this point, to see horrifying patterns where there may just be lapses and/or typical young-kid absent-mindedness.

    (There’s also a lot to be said for the kid’s innate traits. There’s a really excellent book I read when my older kid was a toddler called “Temperament Tools,” which goes into some detail about inborn traits and how to work with them to help your child succeed. Some kids are naturally much more energetic while other kids are naturally more lazy. This doesn’t mean that you just accept laziness, but it does mean that with some kids, that particular area requires more sustained effort than others. My older daughter has always been startlingly diligent. I don’t think we MADE her this way; we just managed to avoid screwing up what we got in the baby lottery, KWIM?)

  10. Anonymous says:

    If you ever decide to have children, you will be the best mom on planet earth.

    So, at least there’s that.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hi,

    You REALLY need to look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder ’cause your family sounds like it has a dose of it. Good luck! You’re gonna need it if that is the case. I speak from experience…

  12. Wayne says:

    eemusings’ comment got me thinking – “You have actually just articulated and voiced one of my biggest fears. What if, despite everything we’ve done, our child is simply no good?”

    What if a child is simply no good? I’ve lived through a similar situation with my older brother – He’s 45, I’m 41, and my sister is 37. My sister and I have been living independent, ADULT lives for years (decades) now, but my brother…suffice it to say that he just can’t seem to get his act together.

    After the latest episode of him leaning on the family for help (and infuriating me in the process), my parents and I vented to each other about the situation; my father actually said something to the effect of, “What if he’s (my brother) just no good? We treated you kids all the same, but he just can’t seem to get it together.”

    None of us had an answer to that…it sort of ended the conversation.

    My parents, my brother, and my sister all live in the same town; I live a few states away. One of my biggest fears is that something happens to my parents to where they need help…I don’t expect my sister to do it alone, because she has a family of her own to take care of. BUT – I worry that my brother will seize the opportunity to move in and attach himself to my parents (and their home and possessions) like a tick! I’m actually considering moving back to my home state, and one of my reasons is to put myself between my brother and my parents, if things were to come to that.

    Good luck to you…hell, good luck to us both!

  13. Geoff says:

    You’re making the exact same mistakes as your parents. You’re basically asking ‘how much help should parents give an adult child?’ when instead you should be asking ‘how much help should an adult child give her parents?’. You’ve started some really good introspective thought by listing the financial/behavioral mistakes your parents made with your brother (their ‘sins’). I could make a similar list of the sins in your relationship with your parents. You loaned them $20k to start a business, you paid off their credit cards, you are responsible for all of their household expenses, you are loaning them a car long term. You told your parents to not loan the car to your brother, and they did, and now your car is in the impound lot. Either your parents lied to you or they simply can’t be trusted, either way it’s time to start weaning them off your support. Leave the car in impound or pick it up yourself and take it back to your house. I know this sounds cruel, I know I’m just some a-hole on the internet and you’ll probably reject this whole cloth because of that, but tough love often looks like cruelty and all of the reasons in your own mind that you’re supporting your parents (they’re family, they need my help, I owe it to them, etc) are the exact same arguments your parents use to keep supporting your brother.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another here from the Consumerist, and another person suggesting very strongly that you look up NPD – Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Ignore the fact that politics (and drug companies) chased it out of the DSM-IV (the manual used for decades to discern specific maladies). That’s been very controversial.

    If your brother isn’t an addict of some kind, doesn’t have some other brain issue, NPD sounds the most likely, although a dual diagnosis might be at play too.

    PLEASE find a culturally sensitive therapist to go talk to about your issues. This is impacting your mental health, also.
    _______________________
    Diagnostic criteria for 301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder

    A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

    (1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

    (2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

    (3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

    (4) requires excessive admiration

    (5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

    (6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

    (7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

    (8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

    (9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
    ___________________

    My mother has NPD and sadly, passed it along in some way to my (10 years) older sibling. Sibling is almost fifty now. Never finished high school and had only one steady job for about two years; when company went out of business, stole from the business owner. Otherwise would work for the bare minimum of time, then get fired, then collect unemployment, then begin the cycle again. Meanwhile, never paid rent as an adult. Supported in a family-inherited house in another state (mortgage, utilities, insurance) until five years ago. At that point, Sibling suddenly disappeared, having taken major items out of the house with no note of any kind. We were able to track my sibling down in a foreign country and believe that these items were sold in order to gain passage. Just understand that other people have gone through this and that the only certainty is that your sibling will not change until he is forced to, and until his enabling has been removed.

    The main thing to do is to find some support as far as caregiving for your mother and father, and more importantly, for yourself psychologically and emotionally.

  15. valerie says:

    OMGOSH! My husband and I are going through this right this second! We have given our 22 year old son the date of August 1, 2011 to get out. He has had every opportunity and has become a complete sloth in the last year.

    This is painful to put your child out on the street, but I was not raised this way. My parents paid 1/2 for college and told me that I was not coming back.

    My husband has always given in to my kids, and now finally seeing my side.
    The main thing is to make sure that you and your partner are on the exact same page in raising children.
    Wish us luck!

  16. Much further down this road says:

    I’m writing because my idiot sibling and my parents and in-laws are older than yours and I’ve already been down this road. I hate to say it, but it will get far worse than it is now unless you find a way to get out of the “parent” role.

    My “baby” brother the genius is now in his mid-forties and just as irresponsible as ever. Unable to keep a job, was living with my Mom until she went into a nursing home and recently died, so, what a surprise — he is now living with the other brother. But, of course, he inherited the most from my Mom (in addition to having large loans forgiven) because he needed it most. Which I’d be ok with if I actually thought he’d get his act together. But what are the odds? Far more likely he’ll waste the money and abandon the furniture and car just like he has in the past.

    I agree 100% with Geoff that you are inadvertently doing the exact same thing that your parents are doing with your brother. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but the reality is you can’t make things right for anyone. Your brother needs to be booted out now for his own good. If your parents won’t do it, take away the car and anything else you’re liable for. (My mother lent my brother a car for years, only to find out that he was driving without insurance or a license. Guess who would have been sued in case of an accident?)

    Regarding your parents — maybe it is time to look at retirement communities or assisted living? Although some of these places are awful, there are many fine facilities — my mother-in-law’s first assisted living home was the nicest place she’d ever lived. And when you add in all the household costs, it may be similar to what you’re paying now. (It was for my mother-in-law and she lives in New York, one of the most expensive cities out there.) Anyway, there are two major benefits to this:
    1) Most do not allow anyone else to live with the retiree. Brother will NOT be able to move in.
    2) As your mother’s illnesses progress (and they will, it’s a sad fact of aging), your father will have support around him. Moral support from other residents and caregiving support from the facility. (Assuming they are eligible for social security and Medicare, there are even places out there that you can get into without any additional subsidy. Spots are limited, but it is well worth the search. When my mother-in-law ran out of money and couldn’t stay at the first assisted living facility we’d found for her, we found her a facility that is completely paid for by social security and medicare. And she has a view of Central Park from her window.)
    3) If you do decide to help with monthly expenses, there is a clear cap — you pay X towards the one monthly bill. And since you’ll know that food and lodging are covered, you can say no to additional needs. (What are you going to do when Mom lends your brother the food money for the month? Or Dad needs a new car because brother lost/crashed your car? Or home health care aides are needed? These unexpected costs will be an anchor around your future unless you cap them now.

    I hate to be negative, but this really will get far far worse. Your parents will get older and as they become needier and more frail, expenses go up and it is harder and harder to say no. Your brother is highly unlikely to change unless forced to. And you will never get the gratitude or recognition you deserve. I’m sorry, but there is no win in this for you. Cutting them loose (with a lifeboat so you know they will be ok) is the only way you’ll ever be able to give your own career, husband, and children the attention they deserve. (And by breaking the pattern now, you’re far more likely to successfully parent your own children too.)

  17. {sigh} * this is so painful *

    All right, now. Let’s try to get a grip here. Brother’s behavior is not your parents’ fault. Brother’s behavior is not your fault. Brother’s behavior is 100% altogether hands-down HIS fault. Stop agonizing and just accept him for what he is: a 30-some chucklehead who probably will never get his act together. This state of affairs is not your responsibility.

    SDXB has a daughter like this. Two of them, like you and Brother: one sane, the other…well…

    One day Sane Brown Daughter decided that enough was enough, and she was not going to have anything more to do with Crazed Blonde Daughter. She simply stopped communicating with her. What SDXB did about it, she also decided, was his business and none of hers. She stopped talking to her father about Crazed Blonde Daughter, too. CBD was already alienated from Divorced Mom, so at least that woman didn’t have to deal with the ongoing madness. SBD began to feel a great deal better when she didn’t have to listen to the constant patter about CBD’s endless and ever-more-bizarre antics.

    I know you’re worried about your parents. At least SDXB was hale and hearty when this happened, and so Sane Brown Daughter did not have to worry about his physical welfare — only about the possibility that he would keep giving her money until he had nothing to live on in his dotage, which was fast approaching.

    I’m afraid I’m with Much Further Down This Road here. It’s time to figure out where Mom and Dad can live and get them there…someplace where Brother can’t live with them. And really: my father loved the life-care community he moved into. It was very pleasant; there was an active social life (he soon snagged a new wife); they served two healthy meals a day; he lived independently until the very end; and when he got to the point where he couldn’t drive safely anymore, they even schlepped him around the city.

    As for Brother, it sounds extreme but he’s going to have to get a job. Whether he does or not is NOT YOUR PROBLEM. Just get those old people away from him and let him fend for himself. As Cassie says, you are not your brother’s parent. You’re not his wife, either. It’s time to divorce this clown.

    But as Big Cab Daddy points out, you should bear in mind that Mom and Dad are not going to divorce him. He will always be their little boy. When you have an adult son or daughter, you see the person through a kind of spectrum: he’s not just a grown man standing there; he’s a baby and a little boy and a teenager and a budding young man all rolled into one image. They’ll always love him.

    Just get them someplace where he can do the least possible amount of harm to them. Then you can cope with whatever comes along.

    And P.S.: I love Geoff’s idea: leave the car in the impound lot! You can’t afford to pay to spring it loose…you’re about to get married. The heck with that noise.

  18. Can I just say that I feel your pain? I have a strikingly similar situation but you know what the difference is? I no longer speak to my mother and step-father, nor my 21 year old brother. Ten years of pain and drama was enough for me. My mental health and my own little family are more important than watching my parents fall on their swords to appease my immature, irresponsible (two girls pregnant in the last year, skips from girl to girl and job to job), and idiotic (just got married to a girl after dating her for 3 months) younger brother. I wish you all the best – and realize now that I did the best thing for my situation by simply removing myself from the drama.

  19. Revanche, I have am always stunned an humbled by your patience and love for your family.

    I know that my parents would never kick my sisters or I out of the house, if we wanted to move back in. However, I have seen myself the consequence of having such an “open door” policy. It’s that you never teach your child to grow up and take responsibility.

    My aunt was 40 something before my grandmother passes away. After that my 40-year old aunt started living with her older sister because she was the only one who would take her in. It was pretty sad, because my aunt did make a decent living, she just didn’t save a penny of it, and depended on everyone else to take care of her.

    I know that you are doing the best you can. Someday, your brother has to grow up. And it’s not selfish of you to want him to. Good luck.

  20. Pink Flannel says:

    I came across your blog just today and I just want to say I can totally relate to your situation with your brother. My parents weren’t like that (but I think because we had a family full of girls), but my grandma was like that and so are my fiance’s parents. My fiance has a brother who is an absolutely idiot. He only thinks about himself and his girlfriend…nobody else. It took him six years…SIX YEARS of full-time school to finish his accounting diploma because he flunked so many courses. During this entire time, he worked PT, but his parents paid for his rent, gave him money, and bought him a brand new $3000 laptop he convinced them that he needed it for his school when he was really just watching anime all the time. As his older brother, my fiance never got a cent and he had to pay his pwn way. The worse part is… his brother didn’t even go into accounting. He works part-time at the bank as a teller! A job you don’t even need post-secondary for…what was the point of spending all that money??

    My fiance earns about $30K a year and his parents keep asking him for money. Money for airfare for them to come visit us (because they live in Asia) and asking him if we will take care of them when they’re older.

    Not that I don’t want to take care of them, but I have my own parents too and I’m the primary breadwinner in the relationship. My fiance has his brother and an older sister. I do not understand why he has to shoulder the financial responsibly of taking care of his entire family when he doesn’t have the means to do so.

    Sorry for my crazy long rant. Your post just really reasonated with me. I sincerely hope you received the same opportunities as your brother when you were growing up because you can do a direct comparison and see how much better you turned out!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m in tears reading your post. You shouldn’t made to bear this HUGE LOAD for your family.

    I’m from a similar cultural background – not same, but quite similar. After being passive aggressively manipulated by own father, and my enabler mom, I have finally learnt to start living ‘my’ life. And stopped being a parent to my parents. Sure, we still have a good relationship, but I’ve backed off much more and let them handle their ‘not urgent’ not important needs. I step in only when they need medical help or urgent need.

    If you keep parenting them + your brother, they’ll still be kids and let you be the responsible adult who takes care of their problems.

    There’s one thing I’ve learnt: You teach people how to treat you. Be it parents, brothers or whoever else it may be. And it’s never too late to teach a dog new tricks.

    Have a great, healthy support network who’ll keep you sane. Goto therapy if you need.

    And put self preservation first. please?

    Much love and strength to you!
    – Kay

  22. ConvertingME says:

    People wonder why I’m so (+ additional o’s for emphasis) hard on my children, Superhero & Princess. Your brother’ story is exactly the reason, many of my family members have not made that leap between chronological age and maturity as well. They would rather use the functioning adults for their sole support rather than support themselves.

  23. Revanche says:

    @eemusings: Yeah. Bad Seed?

    @Cassie: I understand what you’re saying and appreciate your being sensitive about it. And the reason that I haven’t taken as hard a line with it as I might have is because my dad is still MY dad & I was trying to be sensitive to him & his loss of face having lost control of the situation as well. What parent deserves to have their other kid arrogantly telling them that they’ve “failed”?

    @nicoleandmaggie: I wish I’d pushed that when we were much younger & he was likely to take the bait. It would have done him a world of good. Wonder if I’d have any luck now…

    @The Borrower: My closest friend’s family was more similar to you and I listened to their message more than my own parents’, not quite as many requirements but still enough. They didn’t all go conventional routes but they certainly didn’t lack for purpose when they did head for a goal!

    As much as my mom pushed him to do something useful with himself he kicked and screamed and just *knew* better. Idiot.

    @Grace: Well, Grace, when it comes to dealing with people, I’ve come to the same conclusion – there are only answers that you can live with but you’ll still lose sleep over them. As I still do. Or at least this part of my family. More than anything, I mourn the loss of the family that used to make sense to me.

    @Anon 11:55am: True, good OR bad people can just happen. You just don’t know. And, as my good friend said once: “If it’s going to happen anyway, why waste today worrying about tomorrow?” Which I had to concede was a valid point.

    @Big Cab Daddy: Your points are well valid and I didn’t mention them in these posts as I felt they deserved or needed more elaboration than I had room for, but perhaps not. The fact is, “parenting” as I’ve been exposed to it over the past several years is absolutely exhausting because you are coming to the table to sort issues all the time, day after day, and you have to keep making that decision whether you need to be heavy or lighthanded according to the situation and circumstances and make the best decision possible given your understanding and knowledge which may or may not be complete.

    Knowing that you cannot make the right decision each and every time but that *this* might be a pivotal reflection of your decision-making to the other party on this or that matter, or that it might be more or less influential than you had imagined because you’re essentially dealing with the brain of a child (more so in MY case) is positively draining.

    FWIW, as upset as I am about my parents’ choices, I’ve always reminded them that I will always love them and as long as I live, they will be taken care of. Hell, if I die they’ll be taken care of. So there’s that.

    @Naomi: Definitely – I want to make sure I’ve sought balance before I seek motherhood because I know this has been a polarizing experience. Luckily, I’ve grown up babysitting and been exposed to plenty of children (a multitude of cousins I’ve been surrounded by) who turned out to be either gems or germs, so I know that while there’s a chance that my kid turns out like my brother (genetics, c’mon), the behaviors are pretty consistent across the growth spectrum for the most part.

  24. Revanche says:

    @Anon, 4:05pm: I’m flattered as I’m striving for Pulled It Off. 🙂

    @Anon, 5:35pm: Conveniently, someone has done the looking up for me….

    @Wayne: There’s one in every generation, so far… I wish you the VERY BEST!

    @Geoff: Well you don’t *sound* like some jerk on the internet, you’re just making an observation based on what you see based on a post you’ve just read, I’m assuming.

    The difference between the two is
    that my brother has yet to prove himself in this lifetime whereas my parents worked my entire life to give me everything they could until they couldn’t any more. Even then they tried to do *something* about it. Yes, they certainly made mistakes with regard to my brother and they made mistakes trying to “fix” him ultimately, their lives were about supporting the two of us to give us everything we needed to build a good foundation for a solid future. You saw a snapshot of a moment in time where I was angry and reflecting on specific events that were pertinent to my brother’s situation. I direct you to a new post rather than go on.

    @Anon, 7:44am: thanks for looking it up for me. And I will be finding a therapist.

    @Valerie: My sincerest empathies.

    @Much Further: I’m under no illusions that he’ll get better – once I move my parents into a protected assisted living home, he’s out. The car will, I’d like, be rescinded if I can get them transportation through the home. Also, they don’t get cash, they only have a card to use where I can see all charged expenses as they happen – they don’t abuse that.

    @Funny: I know, it’s none of our faults. More in the new post.

    @WorkinProgress: My empathies – I can’t imagine bringing children into the equation.

    @fabulouslyfrugal: *sigh* It’s
    destructive.

    @Pink Flannel: Your fiance sounds precisely like my cousin’s husband. I found out several years ago that his parents were using him as a bank account to fund their retirement spending for travel and other fun in Asia even though he had to work really hard for every bit of money he had for his family. Bad situation because her fiance couldn’t set boundaries with his parents when they were SO GOOD at playing the guilt game on him. I think that’s dirty.

    @Kay: Tis true, people learn to treat you the way you let them – as my new post clarifies, I hope, the decision to take care of my parents is a conscious one but I don’t provide for everything anymore. We evaluate major situations ad hoc and they try not to use my money if it’s not strictly necessary.

    @ConvertingMe: Precisely. Exactly this.

  25. Yes, I do think you should go see a therapist who specializes in families of various cultures … there’s a lot more at play here than simple differences in parenting philosophy, and a lot of the feelings you have towards your parents need to come out in therapy. It will be the best money you or your parents have ever spent.

  26. Anonymous says:

    So my boyfriend found your blog because he thought that your life relates to mine really well. I rolled my eyes at him thinking that he probably found one to mock me or something, but he proved to me once again that he really does love me.

    I have an older brother who is 32 years old. We used to be so close to each other when were kids. I used to admire him even though he’d pick on me a lot like older brothers generally do. He’d stand up for me when bullies would pick on me and even when my parents would scold me.

    My brother is no longer like that anymore and I don’t see that guy coming back anymore. He has messed up so much with his addiction to drugs (well over dosages of Adderall) to the point where he got himself in trouble with his career. Even before he got caught, he turned into this arrogant, selfish guy thinking that he’s worthy of everything. He started treating my parents like shit because he was a doctor and thought of himself as better than others. Now that he has messed up and is no longer working like he used to, he still continues acting this way and my father keeps on nourishing him with money or a vacation to Hawaii thinking that those things will get my brother to respect my dad more.
    He has become my idiot sibling that I now feel obligated to hang out with just so he won’t feel so alone in the world since he has no friends.
    I have been emotionally supporting everyone and this shift in my family is all because of my brother but he doesn’t realize any of this!

    Anyways, I wish there was a way we could like return our siblings to a place where they can get “fixed” so they won’t be such pains in our lives.

  27. […] can’t do that now because my sibling is, bluntly, a shit. He almost always has been but in 30+ years, we did have 2-3 years when we got along and shared […]

  28. […] of my venting posts about my brother, The high costs of Parenting Fails, or a Bad Seed Part 1 and Part 2, I feel I did my parents a disservice.  In focusing on the mistakes that we made specific to my […]

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