Mom Helping Brother But Not You?

My brother has lived with my Mom since college and he is now 45 years old. She does almost everything for him as he can barely hold down a job. I am recently divorced and am now a single father who’s living paycheck to paycheck.

Sometimes I could really use my Mom’s help but I feel like she always puts my older brother’s needs ahead of mine or my kid. Anytime I bring up my loser brother and how I wish she could help my son and I more, she cries and the conversation goes nowhere. How can I approach her without it becoming an emotional landmine?

There seems to be more going on here than meets the eye.

Does your brother have mental health issues? Why can’t he hold down a job? Why has he failed to let loose from his dependence on his mother? What draws your mother to doing so much for her adult child? Are there issues with her mental health that she is so fragile that just talking to her about this drives her to tears? Does she get teary when your “loser” brother asks her for help, or just you?

Those are a lot of questions that, frankly, don’t need to be answered for you to find a way to convince your mother to lend you a helping hand. The reason I say they don’t need to be answered is because I believe this arrangement your brother and mother have is not ever going to change. Let’s talk about how you might work around it.

If your mother starts to cry when you bring up your loser brother and how you wish she would help you more, her tears may be tears of guilt or shame or sadness or embarrassment. She has to know that this is an unusual relationship in that she is still caring for a 45 year old man.

Keeping that in mind, when you approach her to ask for help, don’t bring up what she does for your brother. Ask her for specific help. Such as, “Could you watch Johnny Saturday afternoon? I can bring him over at 2?” I bet that once you break the ice on getting your mother more involved in you and your son’s life she will come around to looking forward to seeing more of you and lending you a hand when and where she can.

Make sure you do your part too. Don’t only contact your mother when you want something from her. Call her just to talk. Spend time just visiting. Take her out to lunch. Think of ways you can involve yourself in her life and do helpful and nice things for her as well. Move your relationship in to a give and take and all parties will be happier.

Who knows, your relationship with your brother might also improve and he could turn out to be a fun Uncle for your son to spend time with. Keep your sights on the positive things that can be gleaned from approaching your relationship differently, and this could turn in to a win-win-win-win scenario. You win. Your son wins. Your mother wins. And, your brother wins. Yeah!!

Embrace your Personal Power with Life Coaching~
• Do you want a give and take relationship with your mother, or do you feel that she simply “owes” you relative to all she’s done for your brother?
• How might you let go of feeling like what she has done for your brother has been unfair to you?
• What would you and your son gain from fostering a new and better relationship with your mother?

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Board Certified Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich, BCC
Board Certified Life Coach

The Joan Jerkovich Show
News Radio 1150 KSAL
Saturdays @ 6:00 am CST
Podcast posts to Mondays

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