View Full Version : Family Issues... (again), how can I help my brother?
12-07-2010, 07:30 PM
So, I have posted about family issues before. Some of you may remember a thread I posted a few months ago about my mother having emotional issues, how she gets very argumentative, and how I eventually left and lived with my grandparents.
Well now that things between my parents and I seemed to have calmed down, and now that we get along well enough, something else has occurred, this time with my brother. My brother is eighteen and a freshman in college, appeared to be loving the university life and claimed he was doing great in his classes. He always seemed to be in a great mood when I saw him on campus. A couple of months ago my parents found out he was stashing alcohol away in his room, apparently was drinking frequently, and even stole a significant amount of gin from my grandfather. When asked about it he insisted he wasn't drinking, that the alcohol wasn't his, and he didn't steal anything. Even though all of the evidence pointed to him, it was hard to believe he did any of that because on the exterior, he just didn't appear like a person that would be binge drinking or stealing. The matter was swept under the rug and things were normal for a couple of months.
Last Friday my mother discovered that 1500 dollars was missing from her account, 500 from my sister's (who needs that money to pay for her tuition soon), and that the money was being transferred to my brother's account and quickly withdrawn. Supposedly he's been abusing prescription drugs (he was on ritalin in high school) and is doing poorly in school. My mother is distraught, and is planning on having him drop out of school, stay home with her, and work to earn back the money. I am concerned about this decision because my brother apparently doesn't outwardly show any remorse about stealing the money. I think if he stays home and is coddled (like I know my mother will), he won't understand why what he did is wrong. I am concerned that there is something psychologically wrong with my brother. I want to give my mother good advice on what to do, but I am not quite certain myself. I have a feeling he shouldn't stay at home, but at the same time if he leaves he might get worse. What should happen to my brother?
You all always give me good advice. Thanks so much for reading and I appreciate any opinions you all have about this situation.
12-07-2010, 07:31 PM
Let it alone. It's not your scab to pick.
12-07-2010, 08:15 PM
brina, you're the child not the parent, so not offering parenting advice is a good way to start a healthy boundary.
Just make sure you do not let him get to you (emotionally, financially, etc.) He is your brother, so you can care, but that does not mean you owe him anything.
12-07-2010, 11:01 PM
I'm with Jayar (for once). :D
Also, college right out of high school isn't always the best situation- working is good because it teaches them how much money is worth and how hard it is to actually earn $1500, for example. Then maybe he'll think twice before stealing that much. But that is really devious behavior. I'd be concerned too!
12-07-2010, 11:11 PM
My aunt is an alcoholic and has ruined the entire family. As long as your brother is guarded and will be caught when he falls, he won't ever realize he has a problem. Addicts need to hit rock bottom and beneath that. They need to be left alone but also need to be told that if they seek help, people are there to see them through that.
The best way your family can help is to not ignore the problem and seek professional help - ask a counselor how to best handle the situation so all of you concerned don't feel bad when not helping. It's difficult not to help because you'll reach the point when you're willing to do anything (My cousin often played with the idea of provocing her mother to get her to become violent so she could call the police. Her brothers prevented her from doing so as they feared it was too dangerous).
Addictions are very complicated situations. You want to help but you can't unless the addict himself admits to having a problem.
But I can assure you that it's not going to be pretty. If your parents aren't willing to do what's best for your brother, meaning they'll protect him and pretend that everything's alright and will support him, then you need to let go. Get distance between you and your family and accept that there's nothing you can do. Which is the hardest part.
12-07-2010, 11:14 PM
I'm with Jayar (for once). :D
Also, college right out of high school isn't always the best situation- working is good because it teaches them how much money is worth and how hard it is to actually earn $1500, for example.
Very good point. Eighteen year-olds are not all the same. There's nothing wrong with waiting a year or two or three before entering college, for a variety of reasons.
12-07-2010, 11:23 PM
My mother is distraught, and is planning on having him drop out of school, stay home with her, and work to earn back the money. I am concerned about this decision because my brother apparently doesn't outwardly show any remorse about stealing the money. I think if he stays home and is coddled (like I know my mother will), he won't understand why what he did is wrong. I am concerned that there is something psychologically wrong with my brother.
Your mother will probably end up enabling your brother's addiction. Addicts will not change until THEY decide it is time, basically when they hit rock bottom. Your mother will be providing a nice place to live and probably funding his addiction if he can't find a job. Unless she can really lay down the law and force him to find work (and make him pay rent as well as pay back the money he stole), he's not going to feel any hardship.
Take care of yourself....make sure he can't get into your finances. There are support groups for families of addicts out there that can give you advice.
12-07-2010, 11:37 PM
I will echo - make sure that your brother does not have any access to your financial information. Your parents should also not have access, if he is going to live at home with them.
That's a tough row to hoe. :(
12-07-2010, 11:49 PM
brina, you are overlooking the best option...have him look into counseling thru the college/university. They usually provide excellent service and the cost is usually included in school fees or at low cost.
Young college students, especially away from home for the first time, have all sorts of issues and colleges and unis are used to helping their students get thru many issues. Have mom get in touch with the college counseling service, especially if he will be continuing classes.
Problem is not yours. If asked for advice and/or help, do what you can and don't feel pressured into doing more than you can handle. Let us know if you need more support!
12-08-2010, 12:18 AM
One of my best friends in my freshman year of college had the exactly same issue. He did hit the rock bottom toward the end of the year and checked himself into a rehab, and now he's one of the healthiest, both mentally and physically, people I know. Still, I feel guilty that I could not stop him even though I knew all along that he was having problems.
I'm sorry Brina that I don't have any constructive advice to give you, but I just wanted to say plenty of young people go through this and come out fine.
12-08-2010, 02:00 AM
Save yourself.......and I am not kidding. You can't fix your brother or your family...but you can look out for yourself. I tried to help/cover up/offer solutions/lie/loan money/hope/pray for my youngest daughter. I have a black belt in enabling. The most difficult thing to discover is that I have no power over her, and she has to find her own way. If you do nothing else, read The Lost Years: Surviving a Mother and Daughter's Worst Nightmare by Kristina Wandzilak and Constance Curry...or watch this (http://fora.tv/2007/05/03/Lost_Years) video of Kristina and her Mom doing a book reading and review. I have come to learn (through a family intervention, my daughter's re-hab, and my own work) that when there is an addict/alcoholic in the family, it is really the entire family that is in need of help.
Good luck to you and your family.
BTW - after two years we are all doing so much better.
12-08-2010, 06:15 AM
Advise your parents to call the police and have him arrested. Seriously. Fraud is no laughing matter. There's nothing like a few hours in jail and an appearance before a judge to make the point that actions have consequences. If he agrees that he'll make restitution and go to rehab, they can drop the charges. Otherwise, since he's presumably a first-time offender, he'll get a slap on the wrist, but he'll be ordered to make restitution and may have to spend some time on probation.
This is how it all started with my sister. Then checks were forged. Then my young niece's savings account from baptism and communion was emptied. Then my mom's engagement ring was stolen, pawned and melted. Then we went to bury my grandmother, who had been in a nursing home, and discovered that all of her Italian gold jewelry -- which we kept at home so it wouldn't be taken in the nursing home -- had long ago been taken and pawned, melted away. I'll spend the rest of my life horrified that my grandmother, who was a proud and particular woman, had to be buried in jewelry that she would've never worn. And that her granddaughter showed up high to the funeral.
If that wasn't bad enough, then my parents' house was burglarized multiple times by my sister and her druggie friends. Anything of value would disappear. The last straw was when my sister's meth-head friends managed to get a 200 lb. safe out of the house and busted it open, probably with dynamite or something crazy like that. Bonds, stock certificates, cash.... all gone to who knows where. Up someone's nose no doubt.
People on my parents' block have gotten alarm systems, guns, or even MOVED because they are so scared that my sister's unsavory drug addict "friends" are going to come around and start shooting up or burning down the neighborhood. I wouldn't put it past them either if they suspected my sister would inherit something.
If you suspect someone is stealing to fund a drug habit, get the police involved early and often for your own safety and for theirs. (My crazy sister is now on trial for three counts of felony, but she still has custody of her kids, somehow :rolleyes:.)
12-08-2010, 12:24 PM
We have a situation in our family where substance problems were swept under the rug/ignored/enabled for many years. As long as the abuser could live the "appearance" of a normal life, enabled by the family, he was in denial that he had a problem. By the time everyone had enough of the mess, it was basically too late to repair the damage. The handsome, smart, charming, athlete is a shell of his former self and now lives in a shelter.
My advice is similar to Louis's. Let him suffer the consequences of his actions. Denial and enabling are not helpful and make things worse.
12-08-2010, 01:06 PM
I really don't understand how your brother had access to both your parents' and your sister's bank account. :huh: I don't know anyone who would share bank account information with their family, especially not to the point of large withdrawals (obviously they have access to your brother's too because they knew it was being quickly withdrawn). I find this really strange.
I'd get counselling information, give it to your brother, your sister, and your parents and then walk away. If I was your parents or your sister, I would have your brother charged if possible. It's hard with your brother having all of the bank account details - what's to prove your parents and sister didn't let him access and give him the money? Sharing bank account details with others is really not smart.
12-08-2010, 02:12 PM
If there is illegal activity involved you are best to remove yourself from the situtation. Agree that you can't help someone that doesn't know they need help or doesn't want it. The banks should be notified of fraudulant activity and holds placed on all accounts. You should also put a freeze on everyone in the family's credit bureaus so no credit can be opened. Tough love is the hardest...
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