January 25, 2012 at 9:07 pm #9472
Hey, so those of you who were around over the holidays may have seen my rant about my brother and his drama. He’s 20, dropped out of high school a semester before graduation, has been bumming around, couch surfing, gotten evicted a couple of times, moved in with his girlfriend who threw him out, and every few months or so moves back in with my parents long enough to blow off all the conditions they put on him coming back home (get a job or go back to school, no drugs in the house, no drinking in the house, awful drama queen girlfriend isn’t welcome) and move back out. He’s managed to quit at least three full-time jobs he could make a career out of (not fired, quit), has three hours of community college but dropped out after a semester when my parents said they would only pay if he was taking at least nine hours his second semester. For some reason, my parents seem to buy his BS when he promises to go by their rules and let him move back in, then kick him out after about a month every time. And when he moves in, drama immediately starts, and when I call home, that’s all either of my parents wants to talk about, and then they kick him out and that’s all we talk about for another month. And then after a month or two of not discussing him, the whole cycle starts over again. Obviously I can’t make my parents see they’re enabling him, and maybe it’s childish of me to resent how much we talk about my brother and his problems, but the kid has the ability to completely monopolize a room when he’s in it, so it sucks how he can also monopolize a room he’s not in. I’ve tried asking my parents to refrain from harping on about his drama, but my dad completely ignores my requests and just barrels into a diatribe about what a loser he is – and which of us is giving the loser a home and buying him vehicles? – whereas my mom will try to keep quiet, but if I ask out of politeness what the situation is, she takes the opportunity to have a thirty minute discussion of what his latest drama is, and it’s kind of her entire life so thy leaves not much else to discuss. But if I try to reign her in, she huffs that I asked in the first place. And BOTH my parents go on and on to me about how the other one enables him.
I’m asking how to handle them now because I just found out today he’s moved back home AGAIN, after they gave him a big speech about not wanting to even hear from him till he gets his act together…so that means another month of avoiding going to their house and two months of talking about all my brother’s problems – and I am SO TIRED of their addiction to his drama!!! How do I politely but firmly set boundaries, while not cutting off the rest of my family?January 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm #9483
Painted, I know how you’re feeling in this situation because I was in a similar situation a few months ago. I have a younger brother who actually just turned 23 today. Ever since he started dating at the age of 15 he’s created a lot of drama. While I love my brother, he’s certainly got some faults. My brother is the type of guy that HATES being alone, so he’s had a lot of crappy girlfriends over the years and he allows them to be a bad influence on him. My brother is generally OK and mostly respectful when he’s single, but whenever he had a girlfriend he’d almost turn into a different person. He would lie often (to their face no less), ignore house rules and boundaries, spend almost all of his money on his gf’s and then expect my parents to pay for his stuff/bills, the list goes on. He always seemed to let them manipulate him into these power struggle games between them and my parents (and he usually sided with his gf), which would result in an average of 1 fight per week. I remember when it came out that gf #3 had talked him into getting a tattoo and nipple piercings—man did they freak out that night!
This would create a lot of drama because my mother cannot stand this type of disrespect (she can be quick tempered) and always wanted to go the tough love route, but my dad is a real nice guy and doesn’t like to be tough. Part of his problem is he’s afraid of being too tough in the fear that he’ll forever damage his relationship with my brother and never see him again, which is a whole other issue. But like I said earlier, it was causing a fight between those 3 roughly once a week. Naturally, both of my parents came to me to vent and get advice. My dad was more-so the venter whereas my mother was wanting me to tell her what to do. I tired not to get too involved as that always gets messy but in the end she wore me down and I tried to take control and correct the situation. Progress unfortunately was never really made since my dad was never tough enough on my brother in my mom’s eyes. Shit really hit the fan the night my brother went out and got himself totally trashed and then drove home drunk. My parents woke up at about 2 in the morning because they could hear my brother being sick beside the house. The drama and fighting was at its highest at that point. I was receiving calls and emails darn near every day by then (including while I was at work). My decision to get involved ultimately blew up in my face one day around this point when my mother left her email open and my brother saw the emails she sent to me about him, and my replies back to her of suggestions of things to try. He called me a little upset and said he felt a little betrayed and said that our mother was exaggerating certain things and relaying some facts out of context. It was after that call that I decided that I was done being in the middle.
The way I ended up handling it was by putting up a solid boundary. I told my brother that he needed to start respecting our parents while he was living in their house or move out. I told my dad that he needed to stop being afraid to be firm. And I told my mom that she needs to stop trying to make my dad be someone that he’s not. At that point I told each of them that I wasn’t going to be a party to the drama any longer and I wasn’t willing to risk my relationship with any of them by getting in the middle anymore. I said that I would delete any emails or texts that were drama ridden without reading them, and that I would end any phone call if the drama came up. My brother and my dad respected that within a day or so, but I was forced to hang up on my mom a few times before she accepted my new rule. I tried to be as polite as possible when I did it and I think the phrase I used went something along the line of “mom I told you on x date that I would no longer be a party to the drama and you just broke that rule so I’m sorry but I’m going to end our phone call now. I hope things get better. Love you, bye.” After about a week they stopped venting to me or trying to get me to offer advice. I did feel slightly guilty abruptly ending conversations considering all that my parents have done for me, but it was adding stress and affecting the relationship with my brother so I felt it was necessary.
Thankfully he dumped needysarus a few months ago and things have been drama free for about 5 or 6 months now. His new gf seems to be the most normal one yet and he *finally* took my advice about not introducing her to my parents so damn soon (most of them met my parents within a month or two).
I don’t know if a tough stance like what I did is right for you, or even if it was the best or fair decision for me to have made, but it’s what I did and it worked.
You said that you’ve tried banning the topic but your dad brought it up anyway. Well once he started talking about it and you let the conversation continue; unfortunately, that was a small act of enabling (I say that in the most non-accusatory way possible). If you set a boundary that a certain topic is not acceptable for discussion with/around you (in your case your brother’s drama), and someone (even your parents) violates that boundary, then you’re within your right to remove yourself from that situation (be it leaving the room or ending the phone call). I won’t lie, enforcing it is not pleasant but at least in my case I thankfully only had to do it a few times before the message that I wasn’t playing around was clear. You cannot be afraid to stand up for your own emotional health or well being.
I wish you the best of luck and hope that this time around your brother treats your family with a little more respect.January 26, 2012 at 12:53 am #9499
Whoa, you just described so many other facets of my brother’s issues. He can’t be alone, either, and the biggest problem there is we can’t tell who in the relationship is causing the drama, him or the girlfriend – they came in once for a weekend, and as everyone was getting ready for bed, he came in to announce that Dramasaurus (I’m stealing that) thought it was stupid that they had to sleep in separate bedrooms and wanted to leave. She’s totally capable of doing something like that, but he’s such a liar it very well could have been him manipulating the situation because he wanted to share a bedroom. My parents are both like your dad – afraid the relationship will be permanently damaged – so they make these hard and fast rules they break at the slightest indication he’s turning around. And then they blame the other and want to vent to me. He and I have never been close – we’re nine years apart for one thing – and I’ve always been the successful sibling. My parents are more than willing to help us out – I got laid off and they helped with rent and bills – but only if we’re making a visible effort to get back on track. He isn’t making an effort, and when they tell him no, we won’t pay your gas to drive out to go fishing because you quit your last three jobs and you won’t go to school, but they were helping me out while I was working a job I couldn’t cover all bases with, plus actively looking for a teaching gig, he sees it as favoritism. Imagine, if you will, the kind of tantrum that was thrown when my parents gave me and my boyfriend our own room at Christmas when my brother and Dramasaurus had been denied at Easter – nevermind that Painted Dude and I are in our late 20s, together for a year and a half, known each other since we were 13, and live together, and they had known each other a couple of months, were 19 and 22, and had broken up twice in those two months. It was totally that our parents love me more, right?
Anyway, I am totally trying your suggestion. I will totally feel like an asshole, because my parents and I are really close, especially my mom and me, and they’re going through a rough time…but they brought it on themselves.January 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm #9571
Haha I can totally feel you about the “favoritism” claims. I have a younger sister who is managing to fail multiple classes in high school, and while my parents hope and encourage her to come up with some kind of plan (preferable college) they are afraid she’s just going to end up essentially doing what your brother is. I’m graduating a few months, and will likely be moving back in with my parents for at least a few months. My parents have already said while they don’t mind me staying there since it will be short term, that they will be charging me rent just to set a precedent so she can’t claim that since I got to stay for free, she should too.
I guess what I am thinking is maybe suggest your parents come up with stricter rules for you, such as a SO can only share a bedroom if they’ve been dating for a year +, the parents have known them for 9 months, whatever. They will only cover utility bills if you guys fall on hard times, or you have to show a new job application you’ve turned in every time you want money, etc. Just because a “visible effort to get back on track” is a little vague. While that wouldn’t stop the drama, at least maybe it would stop him from attacking you with favoritism if there are really clearly laid out criteria that you are meeting and he isn’t.
Of course, all that depends on if your parents actually follow through on the rules…January 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm #9573
You have described my sister – mostly. She is a Dramasaurus Rex. I say this because she goes through men like they are tv dinners (the only kind she really knows how to make, so long as the microwave is super-easy to use).
I’ve noticed a trend here – all of these kids were born in the late 80s/early 90s. My sister is 24 (will be 25 in March). They are all the YOUNGER sibling. If I were a betting person (and I can be, at times), all of them have been coddled and spoiled throughout their childhoods because they were “the Bay-bee” of the family. They can’t function well on their own. They crave attention because it’s what they are USED to.
My sister is pregnant with her second child. I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not that she believes that it’s the same father as the first. She got pregnant on PURPOSE to force the father to divorce his first wife so she could get married to him (for his military benefits). This guy hasn’t divorced his first wife because he “forgot” to do it and has been too lazy to do so, even after she had a kid by another soldier in another state. I wouldn’t doubt that they are divorced and he’s just lying to my sister so he doesn’t have to marry her (honestly, it’s what I’d do).
She flew from TX to AK for Christmas, sprung the pregnancy on my mom and stepdad and said “oh, I had a one-way ticket so I could stay here for my pregnancy and so you can take care of me like my last pregnancy”. My mom’s landlord found out my sister (and her 1st child) were in my mom’s tiny 2-bedroom apt and gave them an eviction notice. My sister is now with my grandma (who also has a bad heart) and my mom can keep her apt. My sister will wait the 30 days my grandma gave her, mooching money, time, energy, etc until she finally says “nobody will let me stay with them” when she hasn’t been looking and expect to stay with my grandma indefinitely or move in with another relative. My stepdad put his foot down and won’t let my sister move back in with them. My mom’s health just can’t handle it. I refuse to let her move in with me – my sanity can’t handle it.
Right now, she is trying to get me to dig through 93 inches of hard-packed snow to get out her BF’s car (thats been in my yard for two years) so she can drive it around town. It has no insurance on it (illegal to drive that way), she isn’t on the registration (that’s expired anyways), it’s not mechanically sound (the hazards flash constantly, the transmission is wonky, brakes are bad), and she is UNLICENSED. Did I mention the 93 inches of snow?
I’m pissed that my mother gave her my phone number (after I just had it changed recently).
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