My brother is leeching off my parents

kristy008June 24, 2009

I'll start off by saying the reason I am posting on this forum is to get advice to see if I am within my rights to intervene in this situation, as I don't want to over step my boundaries. My mother has spoken to me (very upset) on several occasions about the circumstances with my brother, and has asked for my assistance, otherwise I would normally not consider intervening. I am a 26 year old female and have lived away from home for most of my adult life.

My brother is 19 years old and has taken advantage of my parents for far too long. Where do I start?

He has always been given expensive things from my parents or had them pay for things that he should really pay for (video games etc). However, it's probably best to cover the problems that have led my mother to seek my assistance.

- They paid $10,000 for him to complete a diploma in multimedia that all he needs to do is finish 1 subject for, but he is too lazy to do this. The diploma will be null and void if he doesn't finish it, and my father has already got the deadline extended once.

- He lied to my parents about a girl he met over the internet (he said he met her here and she moved overseas). My parents paid thousands of dollars for him to go overseas TWICE and stay with her for 3 months each time while he said he was going to work online and finish his diploma which he didn't.

- He moved out of home with his now girlfriend just over 6 months ago, but 4-6 weeks into the lease called home asking how he could get out of it cause it was too expensive and too much hard work (btw he only lived in a 3 bedroom flat - and one room remained empty the whole time he was living there). My parents obviously said he had to stay in the lease or he would get blacklisted. As soon as the lease expired he moved home.

- He works in a part time permanent position that is a government job (which my parents helped him get cause my dad works in the same sector). Mind you they had to push him initially to get a job, but he is doing well and I'm very proud of him. It's a good job and pays well so even though he is working part time hours the money is as good as if he is working a full time job (he also has ALOT of money in the bank over $10,000). So he is definitely not lacking in money and his job is stable.

- My parents said that while he is only working part time (and until he gets a full time job which he agreed he would do) they are okay with him to stay there rent free. He moved home 1 month ago but has not made an effort to even start looking at full time jobs (its not like he doesn't have the time). He gets a room to himself obviously, his meals cooked, clothes washed, doesn't do any housework, his girlfriend stays over EVERY night and gets fed too (they've even changed some of the meals they cooked cause she is vegetarian).

- To make matters worse my brother's girlfriend is very rude to my mother. Several times I have had to hold back the urge to put her in her place when she has been smart mouthed to her (even on my mother's birthday!). She is very sneaky in the way she does it as well, she is never direct in her comments but you can tell they were meant as attacks if you know what I mean. For example, she baked some cookies with ingredients my mother purchased, counted them all, my mother that day took a couple of cookies as a snack, and when my brother's girlfriend went over the next day and saw those cookies missing took them out of the kitchen and to my brother bedroom. Yet, she has no problem eating the food my parents pay for and my mother cooks every night. My mum got really mad with her one night about her rudeness and she left the house sulking, then called her the next day to apologise, but she's back to her old habits.

- They both owe my parents $700 for spending money on a holiday they all went on that they have yet to pay back.

I realise now this question is very long, but I believe some background is important. I will wrap up now with a few things.

My father has little if any involvement in the situation, he'll talk with my mother about it and agree something needs to be done, but when my mother goes to enforce it he never backs her up, and sometimes undermines her in front of them. My brother can even call my mother names in front of him and my father will do nothing.

My questions are:

- Is it my place to even get involved? I truly feel it isn't, but I cannot stand back any longer and let my mother be treated this way.

- If so, is it my father I should talk to? He thinks he is being the good guy that everyone loves, but what I don't think he realises and that I may need to bring to his attention is that his children don't respect him for his behaviour.

- Should I talk to my brother? Even though I'm unsure if this will do any good?

- How should the girlfriends behaviour be addressed? Especially being as sneaky as it is.

I feel like the only way this can be resolved is if my parents act as a cohesive unit together, they don't have the best marriage, but they need to put their differences aside to address the issue.

I really feel I should speak to my dad, but like I said earlier, don't know if it's within my rights to do this.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

and Thanks in advance for your replies.

Kind Regards


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why did they pay for him to go oversees? and why do they allow him to bring girlfriend to stay overnight, every night? why do they feed the girlfriend? why do they allow rude girlfriends in their house? how 19-year-old has that much money in the bank? where did he get over 10K?

if your parents choose to allow all this, then there is nothing you could do. it doesn't matter if you intervene or not. your parents allowed this. so now they see the consequences.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 8:54PM
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I wrote a really long response earlier and then deleted. It comes down to this...until your parents decide to stop being doormats and start actually parenting this will continue. If they don't do something he will end up like my mooch of an uncle who did it until the day his mother died at 89 (and then he robbed from her estate). That is the way users are - they use unless someone doesn't let them, and then they look for the next mark. Should your parents tell your brother it's time to find a place of his own? Of course, especially in light of his finances, his girlfriend (and all of that). But will they? YOU can't make him do it. THEY have to.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 11:01PM
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This seems complicated but it's not. If your parents allow themselves to be treated this way then there is nothing you can do about it. Kick him out, and don't give him anything. It's as easy as that. THEY are creating the problem, not your brother. He is going to keep taking whatever they are giving, and he is going to keep treating them how they are allowing him to treat them. THEY continue to give him money and trips. THEY are allowing his girlfriend to spend the night and treat them like garbage. THEY are allowing him to live there without paying anything or following rules. THEY are trying to make him finish a degree that he doesn't want to finish. THEY got him a job instead of making him stand on his own feet and get his own job. THEY have created this monster.

I'm sure they are nice people who are trying to be good parents, but if they don't stop NOW, they are going to have a 40 year old son, still living at home and treating them like crap. They are actually hurting their son and themselves instead of helping. They are doing him no favors. He sounds like he has become a real jerk, because your parents have given him all the power and control.

What exactly do they expect you to do? The only thing you can do is to tell them they have to stop. No more money, no more trips, no more tuition, no more living at home, no more finding him jobs and trying to force him to finish his degree. Give him a month to find a place to live (which should be no problem with all that savings). Maybe he'll freak out and not talk to them for awhile, but he'll get over it.

People will only treat you poorly because you allow them to. They have taught him it's okay to take advantage of them and treat them this way. They are the only ones that can fix it.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 1:52PM
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"They have taught him it's okay to take advantage of them and treat them this way. They are the only ones that can fix it. "


    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 3:39PM
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"I really feel I should speak to my dad, but like I said earlier, don't know if it's within my rights to do this."

It's not a matter of "rights". This is family. Of course you can talk to them. I strongly recommend that you do. You may be just the reinforcement they need to act. Some people avoid confrontation regardless of consequence. Appears your parents are like that. What you described NEEDS confrontation.

From your description, it looks like somebody has to grow a spine. Of course your brother will be offended. He earned it. Do what needs to be done and let time take care of the rest. He'll either grow up or he won't. Neither you nor your parents are in charge of that. He needs to be cut off and kicked out.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 3:54PM
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It's not only a right, it is the only healthy option, to talk about your experience of being part of this family.

"When I see brother successfully manipulating you, and taking advantage of you, and hurting you, and when I see that you continue to put yourselves in that situation, it leaves me thinking this will not stop and I am afraid the damage will never end. I'm afraid of what it is doing to you and to him, and I'm angry about that."

That is healthy. What is not healthy is to think that you have any power or responsibility to change your brother or your parents. Your job is to express, and to establish healthy boundaries of your own - if that means that you no longer want your parents to complain to you without also being willing to DO something, then they may no longer complain to you. IF you cannot tolerate our SIL's mouth, then if she is disrespectful you will go home.

This will not change them, but it's a lot closer to healthy than 1. not speaking up and 2. thinking grandiosly that you have the power to change them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 4:31PM
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Thank you so much for your replies! I agree with you all COMPLETELY! My parents are enablers.

The main enabler is my father as he has control over all the finances and whenever my mum tries to enforce any rules or discipline or even just DEFEND HERSELF against verbal attacks, he gets angry at her. She feels she is standing alone with no support in that house.

Latest development... and you won't believe this! I rang my father to tell him something needs to be done and that for once he needs to stand up, be a parent and enforce some rules and discipline, or if not at least support what my mother enforces, he said he would talk to my brother that night. Normally he is home by 5pm, but instead of talking to him he snuck in the house late that night (8 or 9pm) so he didn't have to speak to my brother.

It's like he is fine with yelling abuse at my mother cause he knows she is stuck with him financially (she is in the process of making plans to become more independent so she can leave him), but he is scared of a 19 year old boy and a 17 year old girl! It's crossed over the line into pathetic now... He has stood by and said nothing while my brother has said to my mother that he 'wished she was dead' because she told his girlfriend off for being rude. I got so angry when I heard this from my mother.

I've decided I will say my piece to my brother, his girlfriend and my father. A disagreement has recently occurred between my brother and I regarding unrelated matters, and his 'lovely' girlfriend tried to manipulate my mother to 'get on their side' so to speak even though they are clearly in the wrong and both my parents agree and have told me to stand my ground on the matter.

My partner and I have done things for my brother before and from now on we are cutting them off completely and leading the example for my parents to follow.

I've thought long and hard about it and am willing to cut my father and brother from my life until they are both willing to act their age and all treat each other with respect, because at this point I have none for them.....

I agree though that if this doesn't work (talking to them) there is nothing more I can do because I am not the one enabling him, but at least I can sleep at night knowing I made an effort.....

Thanks again...


    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 12:42AM
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Kristy you sound like such a sensible, considerate person. You have such a good understanding of what is going on in your family.

I have noticed in my family that my son says things that he should not say to his father, and I know if I spoke like that (and I would not)then his father would surely get annoyed with me. I think sometimes parents just love their kids so much, they are a bit frightened of reprimanding them in case they don't like us any more. I know this sounds silly but I am sure it goes on.

My son is 17 so nearly the age that your brother is.

I have recognised this in my own family and I am going to put a stop to it, because it can get out of hand.

Perhaps your father is in the same situation with your son and it has gotten out of hand - big time.

I wish you well in your pursuit of family contentment and I hope your father wakes up to himself and sets things straight.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:39AM
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Trust me on this--this is a 'bat your head against the wall' situation.

You CANNOT change your parents. You CANNOT change your brother. All you can do right now is step back, see the situation for what it is and realize that your parents are going to give this deadbeat whatever he wants, for the rest of his life, and there will be nothing for you, ever. If you speak to professionals in the field, they'll tell you it's common for parents to over and over again put the 'needs' of a deadbeat child over the good of their other children and even ahead of what's good for them (the parents). Parents will often let one child bleed them dry.

And oh yes, they will from time to time go to one of their other children, complaining about the drain on their finances--BUT they rarely really want any help. And if you do attmept to push them to do the right thing--guess who will be wrong and will be on the outs with the family? You.

Not only have I seen many other families go through this same scenario, but let me tell you about DH's family. His one sister has always been a taker. She's got all sorts of explanations as to why she needs money--mind you, her husband has a very high position with the government and has made 6 figures for years. Anyway, this deadbeat, over the years, has gotten her parents to pay for: her kids' braces, her cars, her appliances, new roof for her house, and dozens of other stuff. FIL and MIL used to go to DH, complaining about the drain on their finances. DH would get all upset, worried for them, and make good suggestions. They didn't want to hear anything reasonable. Eventually, that SIL finagled and got control over their finances. the stress she put FIL under killed him way too early. Then she STOLE over a quarter of a million $$$ from MIL (who by that time had Alzheimer's). Cost us $20,000 so far in forensic accounting and legal fees to stop the hemmorage of $$$$. It's been 7 years, and the case still hasn't been completely resolved. And honestly? There's no money left in the estate for the rest of the children to inherit. I don't care if I NEVER get any money from someone else's death--that's not really how I choose to make $$$, but darn it, it's grossly unfair for one child to steal the estate from the others.

If I knew in my eary 20's what I understand now about these family relationships, we would NOT have allowed ourselves to be victimized the way we were. We would have walked away years ago. I know that sounds cold, but we batted our heads against the wall for 35 years, always doing the right thing, never taking a penny from anyone that wasn't ours, and none of it was appreciated. ever.

I know this isn't the advice you want to hear, but truly, the best thing you can do for yourself, is to handle your own fiances responsibly. To protect them from others, and to make up your mind that if your parents choose to give away their money now, to a child who should be able to pay his own way, they ARE NOT your responsibility in the future, when they are down and out because of it. Do not feel guilty if they come to you for help later in life and you feel you need to turn them down. They made their choices, it's not up to you to pay the consequences for others mistakes, truly.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 3:25PM
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"......none of it was appreciated. ever."

Lots of meat in those few words! It has always/everywhere been pretty much like that.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2009 at 4:10PM
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I notice no one has mentioned counseling...does your dad even WANT to change? Could be is all he needs is the tools and clarity to do so - in that case, maybe some assertion training (and a wise trainer could work in some counseling). Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2009 at 11:47AM
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I imagine the reason no one suggested counselling IS because the decision to do that would have to come from the father. It would be virtually impossible for a daughter to convince an unwilling father to give counselling a try--IMO.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 6:47AM
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"He has stood by and said nothing while my brother has said to my mother that he 'wished she was dead' because she told his girlfriend off for being rude. I got so angry when I heard this from my mother."

If my brother EVER said something like this to my mother, he would be picking himself up off the floor. The girlfriend as well.

Your mother needs your support more than ever. If this were me, I'd be tapping dad for MY share of his generosity and banking it for my mother. Especially if Dad keeps letting the son (and skag girlfriend) treat her like this.

Like azzalea said "You CANNOT change your parents. You CANNOT change your brother. All you can do right now is step back, see the situation for what it is and realize that your parents are going to give this deadbeat whatever he wants, for the rest of his life..."

In the meantime, I'd help mom figure out what assets dad has so she will get a fair deal should they choose to part. If he isn't forthcoming, she can always ask the IRS for copies of their tax returns from prior years in order to come up with a fair settlement of what dad will have to pay if he decides the deadbeat freeloaders are more important than his loyal wife.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 2:08PM
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Your mother needs your support more than ever. If this were me, I'd be tapping dad for MY share of his generosity and banking it for my mother. Especially if Dad keeps letting the son (and skag girlfriend) treat her like this.

I agree!!

I wouldn't hold my tongue either regarding my brother or his girlfriend. If they can dish it out, they can take it!

I'd also tell my father that he needs to grow some balls and be a man for once... not a mouse!

Your mother so needs your help and support in this situation. I'm glad you're there for her.

If my brother ever disrespected my mother in front of me (and my father said nothing), I would stand up for my mother and ask my father what kind of man he was for letting his son talk to his mother/his wife that way and not say a word!! I would make them feel ashamed of their actions.

Also explain to your mother that she needs to stop accommodating her son and his girlfriend. No more special vegetarian meals, no more laundry, etc. Maybe they'll get fed up and move out! Support her by helping her stand her ground... stop being an enabler. If girlfriend doesn't eat meat, too bad! Eat somewhere else.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 10:32PM
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If the girl is 17, under 18--legal problems

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 3:15PM
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Why would there be legal problems? It's not her daughter! You don't HAVE to allow someone else's kid to live in your home. You have the right to kick her out. You can call the police to have her escorted out of your home if she doesn't leave on her own.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 10:32PM
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Total smoke-screen. Boot both of their sorry asses!

I know it won't happen. Mommy and daddy are both invertebrates. Sad plus obnoxious.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 11:08PM
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