Doctor Love: Guilty Conscience

Sunday, March 10th, 2019

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Dear Doctor Love
All the time my younger brother was growing up I was the greatest big sister. I gave him spending money, cleaned up his scrapes and generally let him be a happy-go-lucky little kid. As he grew into his mid-teens, I started to teach him about being an adult and getting ready to live on his own. He never got the message.
By his early twenties he was always in a financial crisis with drinking normally at the root of the problem and I helped his as much as I could until I got married. My husband likes him but refuses to let my brother be what he calls a “leech”.
My brother is now in his mid twenties, single and completely irresponsible. He lives at our mom’s home, his girlfriend does his laundry, he eats out rather than wash dishes and is always drinking with his friends and doing stuff that cost more than his budget allows.
Six months ago, my brother financed the purchase of a scooter and immediately fell behind on the payments. He telephoned in a panic and begged me for money and not to tell my husband and I had to say no. My brother has a job and he had two months to bring the payments back to current, but he said he kept forgetting about it. Last month the scooter was repossessed by the owner.
My brother won’t speak to me and my mom keeps making angry comments about how I should be helping him through his hard times. I think that he should be making his scooter payment before buying a round of drinks.
Am I a terrible big sister?
/s/Guilty Conscience

Dear Conscience,
On the contrary, you have been the best big sister and you need to hold your ground and continue to be the best big sister. That means taking a hard stand on the issue of giving him money and bailing him out of messes as you’ve been doing.
You don’t mention if your mother is financing him, but if she is, she is not doing him any favors. Remind her that he is an adult and should be able to make adult decisions then tell her the topic is closed for discussion.
If you want to help your brother, offer to make a budget for him, and the two of you discuss with the scooter owner a payment schedule that your brother will honor until it is paid off. Other than that, you are not your brother’s keeper and you are not responsible for the poor decisions he makes.

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