Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Younger Brother Wants Older Brother To Man Up, Mom Is An Enabler

Dear Tazi:

A little background before I tell you my problem: I was 18 when my father committed suicide.  Because he took his own life, his life insurance did not pay out and Mom would have been left destitute if I did not man up and help her.  I took my college savings - money I earned by working summers with my father since I was 10 - and used it as a down payment to buy 50% of Mom's house.  I went to the community college while working full-time to pay the mortgage. It took me several years to do it, but I have graduated a four year school and have paid off the mortgage.  I am now officially 50% owner of our house.

My problem is my older brother, "Larry".  He was 20 when Dad died and [upset] that he could no longer attend the pricey, private college that was bankrupting my parents.  He took out a bunch of student loans, partied for a few more years until his financial aid ran out, and has barely kept his head above water since.  Larry has a small apartment on the ghetto side of town, so when he entertains he prefers to bring his guests to my house.

My mother is always happy to see Larry, and since he hardly ever visits her she will take him any way she can get him, going so far as to allow him to spend the night with his female guests.  (Sorry, Tazi, I cannot call them "lady friends" as they are not ladies!).  I realize my mother has the same right to guests as I do, but a recent event has me putting my foot down.

Larry decided he wanted to throw an NFL Weekend party.  Since his apartment is small, he asked Mom if he could use our basement.  She of course said yes; I knew nothing about it until the day of the party - which lasted two and a half days!  Larry's party started on Sunday morning with the pre-game shows and went straight through Monday Night Football.  The party finally ended at 1 AM Tuesday when I kicked everyone out of the house.  Larry was upset, Mom was relieved - but still insists that Larry should be able to have parties at our house, just not on as grand a scale.

What is upsetting me the most, Tazi, is that Larry left the house an absolute pit!  What's more, he asked Mom and me if we could clean up the mess for him, since he was exhausted from entertaining his guests for two days!  Before you ask, Tazi, I would have thrown him out on his ear a lot sooner if Mom hadn't argued to let him stay, that he hasn't spent this much time "at home" since he was a kid.

Tazi, how can I get my Mom to see that Larry is using her?  I would like to exercise my rights as a homeowner, as well, but every time I try Mom gets all emotional.  I have already offered to buy her out of the house, but she refuses.  I think she knows my first rule will be no more overnights with Larry.  So, Tazi...what do you think?  Is your hair standing on end?

Man of the House

Dear Man of the House:

My whiskers are standing on end, too!

To give your cat a full, fluffy coat, try scaring the $%#^ out of it!
I applaud your courage and your willingness to take the risks you did when you were younger, putting your own future on hold to see that your mother could have a secure one.  Just when it seems like men like you no longer exist, a letter like yours shows up in my mailbox!  (Whew!  That was more "likes" than a teenage girl can use in one sentence!).  You have learned many hard lessons in life, and it is time for you to learn one more: you cannot control how other people act, only how you react to their behavior.

It is obvious that you are the more mature of your mother's two sons; it is also obvious that your brother is holding her as an emotional hostage, ignoring her until he needs a place to party and entertain.  It is sad, really, and what is sadder is that your mother appears to realize what he is doing but feels trapped by his behavior.  On the other hand, it appears that your mother fears similar abuse from you should she sell you her half of the house.  You have made your dislike of Larry's visits well known; does your mother fear he will be unwelcome in the house if you were to own it outright?

You and your mother need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with each other.  You have taken on much responsibility from a young age (including starting work and a college savings account at the age of 10) so it is time to sit back and see where all this responsibility has gotten you in life - and to see who you have become because of it.  Are you rigid and unbending when it comes to how you run your house?  Does your mother feel like you are trying to run her life, too, or does she feel independent of you?  Do you feel like your mother still acts like the house is 100% hers so her rules are the only ones that matter?  A family counselor or clergy member would make a helpful mediator, and I hope you will consider contacting one.

Your brother Larry is obviously a manipulative person, but he is still your brother and your mother's son.  I do not suggest you push him out of your lives, but limit the length of his visits to daylight hours - unless he is alone, then you can decide if you would like to extend the invitation to stay overnight.  If he in turn refuses to visit, is it possible for you and your mother to go visit him?  Roads run both ways; it could be that Larry feels left out of the relationship that you and your Mom have with each other.  Make an effort to reach out to him and see if your mother becomes less of an emotional hostage to him.

One last thought: Larry's two-and-a-half day NFL basement bash should have never happened the way it did.  The next time he seeks to throw a party at your house, draw up a written contract that details how many people will be there, how long the party will last, the condition the basement is to be left in prior to Larry's leaving at the end of the party, and any other conditions you wish to enforce.  You, your Mom, and Larry must all sign it.  Should the rules of this contract be broken, you will have every right to demand that Larry's guests leave your house - by police escort, if necessary.

I wish you luck!


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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