questionshow do you guys deal with meddlesome siblings?


Throughout all this, mind you he's still mom's pride - the textbook prodigal son... and getting her to see otherwise is pointless. I won't pretend there isn't a long stemming resentment over this, but in this, it involves their home... a home that has been mortgaged several times in the past 50 years to put kids through college and provide a better life... and with them being fairly milked dry by this same brother of mine, i like to think it's not sibling rivalry or resentment that prompts my caution, but a credible danger to their well-being. Mainly, i'm torn between stepping in to make sure whatever they do is done responsibly (and dealing with the hurt feelings my dramatic brother would undoubtedly express), vs. letting them learn the lesson potentially, the very hard way. If i interfere, i would certainly be the meddlesome one, though with better intent, in my opinion.


Quite a pickle. Ironically, if you tell your parents your feelings about this, you will appear to be the meddlesome one. If you feel you have to guard what you say around your family, something is wrong. Family Therapy is a good place to start if it is hard to have an honest dialogue between the four of you. I'm not sure if you still live anywhere near them, so it might not be possible.

You could always compromise and suggest they find a reputable--or rather "large"--lender instead of going with that other one. But you need to make your opposition to this entire thing known.

Good luck. I don't envy you.


I think you are past family therapy. You need to tell them what you see and how you feel about this. Tell both your parents at the same time. Alone. Then if they don't listen you did what you could and your hands are clean. As their child whom they love and raised it is your responsibility to try and look out for them just as you would your children. If they refuse your help then step back, don't push it.


I have a 40+ year old sister that is doing something similar, she lives at home with her 3 kids and basically pays nothing and leaves the kids with my parents to babysit while she goes out. I have said things to my parents both individually and at the same time. They just don't want to kick her and their grand kids out but I tell them they continue to be enablers then. Both my parents are close to retirement and have also made some poor decisions financially. My biggest concern is that they will not have the finances to retire and support themselves and my sister and her two kids. I have got to the point that I no longer speak to my sister too often and have lost respect and no longer feel sorry for her any more. I think you have to look out for your parents and say something both to them and your brother. If neither what to hear then you have done your part and it is then on them.


You mentioned "learning their lesson" a couple of times, but from your story it seems as if they had ample opportunities to learn in the past and have not done so. I think you have to check the probabilities on this one. What's the likely path of events?
1. You speak up, they listen to you, your brother never forgives you but your parents are able to enjoy a financially safe retirement.
2. You speak up, they don't listen, your brother never forgives you, and your parents lose everything.
3. You speak up, they don't listen, your brother never forgives you, and it works out great. Your brother's business is a success and he gets a life.

1. You keep quiet, they don't go through with it and your brother never forgives them.
2. You keep quiet, they go through with it and your parents lose everything.
3. You keep quiet, they go through with it and it all works out great.

I would speak up, or risk feeling responsible if they followed his advice and lost everything.


@goatcrapp: If you speak to your parents, consider focusing on your concerns about the particular mortgage/mortgage company, leaving aside concerns about your brother's judgment and the impact of his action on your parents. Your brother's standing in life is likely an emotional issue for your parents; if you start by critiquing his actions (as you've done here), they may react emotionally and shut down. If you can focus your discussion on the actual mortgage product/financial implications for your parents, it might stay in the realm of rational/logical discussion. Of course, that only addresses this particular situation and not the larger one (which is the real problem!), but you probably can't convince your parents to leave your brother alone; that will likely make you the bad guy. If you can convince them that you have their best interests in mind, you might be able to play whack-a-mole and that might be the best you can do here.

This sounds very frustrating for you; my sympathies!


Offer to help with the wacky business idea. Tell you parents and your brother that you really want to help them get their ducks in a row to help give this idea the best chance of working. Then have kitchen table meetings with them where you bring up things like incorporating for liability protection. Many company types require multiple officers which would potentially give you or your parents some control which your brother will probably reject without good reasons. I am sure there are a lot of other things that responsible businesses do during their start-up phase that your brother would reject making him lose more and more credibility. You can play dumb and ask questions that he won't have good answer to. Start with something like this


You won't like this advice, but it is for your own good.

Butt out.

If your parents have seriously lost an average of 10K/year to this guy over the last decade and are pondering giving him more money, trust me, there is nothing...NOTHING you can do to prevent it. Attempting anything will just risk creating further tension in a family that seems to already have plenty of it.

Where am I coming from in this? In part, watching it with my own family. Not the exact same situation, it was extended family, but I watched my parents 'bail out' this Uncle, and this Aunt, and help out this Cousin, until there wasn't a penny left in the checkbook. Now, with not one red dime to spare in there, the leeches are still begging for more, and not getting it, have turned quite nasty. I've watched my mother's health decline from the stress her own brothers and sisters are putting her through.


You might suggest that they run the whole scheme by a reputable accountant or attorney just as a sanity check. That way, they can get an outside, objective assessment of the idea without the emotional baggage.


The best course, as noted, is likely to just stay out of it. Be there when it flops, if it does, and offer what support you can. (Probably not money...)

If you're really concerned and decide to meddle on, you may want to try to sit down and have them explain the plan to you. Ask some pointed, open-ended questions to get them thinking about. Nobody wants to be told they're wrong, or get into, "I told you so," territory. Let them figure it out.

Just remember they're still family. Don't jeopardize your relationship with 'em, if you don't have to do so.

But to steal a page from Dennis Miller, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.


This is a conundrum. You intimate there are other siblings - can they be enlisted in an intervention? Is there a pastor, or some trusted friend that might help intervene and spare you the bad guy image? You could try the sarcastic approach: "Mom, Dad, while you're pulling money out of the house for brother, get me some too, since there is obviously not going to be an inheritance for me in the future."


@stile99 pretty much hit it. Unless your parents are some of the thickest people on the planet, they know what is going on. They are probably denying it to themselves, and as such anything you say isn't going to help things, but rather make things worse.

You may wish to try and minimize the damage by steering them towards a more legitimate lender, but you aren't going to be able to do anything other than that. It sucks for you, but ultimately it is their money and their decision to make.


Sounds like you have multiple siblings, and this is just one of them. Where one child would fail, multiple would succeed. This sounds pretty bad. Have you considered all the children sitting down and talking with your parents? Do your siblings agree with you?

What I'm driving at is yes, you will look meddlesome and annoying. But ALL of you will not; all of you will look concerned and reasonable. You need to do this as a group for the sake of your parents. They're doing the equivalent of giving a drunk a drink.

My advice, ask your parents not to support him financially anymore. He can have a meal if he's hungry, and a place to sleep under a roof once or twice a week, tops. But past that he has to get out on his own. And don't have this conversation alone with your parents, get your siblings involved. Get your parents this book:

Your parents aren't doormats, they're people. They deserve better.


Lot of great replies here. To offer a little bit more background - I'm not offering opinion to my parents about the foolishness of funding his failures - That's been a long road for all of my siblings, and my parents simply won't listen. It's their prerogative if they want to give him money, and it's none of my business to that end. As the beneficiary of their help through undergrad, i can't forsake another sibling their kindness... No - my main concern is making sure they get it done properly, with due diligence, and with little risk. to THAT end however, there's no way for me to get only a little involved.. They are elderly, and i'd either have to take the reigns completely, or leave it be... I don't trust my brother to take my lead on any legitimate lenders or credit unions. As for inheritance - that's never an issue, and even if a comment was made with snark, my parents wouldn't take kindly to it. My wife and I are set with our own lives, so just doesn't factor in. (cont'd)


As to my other siblings - there are others, but they've long since stopped trying to argue. They are busy with their own lives, raising their own kids, and have their own dysfunctions to deal with (the ones that don't have more or less cut ties except for holidays) - I can't hang it all on my brother's neck, but he's a big reason it's hard for them to continue a relationship with my parents. I'm the youngest, so i wasn't around, or was too young to have really been involved in a lot of the early fights and resultant resentment towards him from my siblings, but they've given up, just as I'm on the verge of. As many of you guessed, my brother's situation is a sore point for them. They certainly can't banish or forsake their eldest, and if they choose to reward him that's their business - and perhaps i'm wrong in thinking this, but i feel it becomes family business when their support of him could literally land them without a home.


sidenote - we've had the united front approach before... an intervention if you will. Lots of valid points made, lots of progress, and promises. After about a year, they went right back and instead, learned to start lying to their children about their financial problems, until they were up to their ears because of my brother. It's a bit of an emotional shock when you find out (as a grown ass adult) your parents - the nicest, never a mean word people you've ever known have resorted to lying for the sake of continued financial support of a sibling. I'm keeping tabs on this with my dad - he's more open about it (in fact, doesn't like a lot of it - but won't break my mom's heart by having this fight yet-again... so he just goes along with it. Theyre both too old to stress over it, and would rather put themselves in debt.) - I'm keeping to the background for now, but will have to decide if and when to "meddle" if i see it going south.


@goatcrapp: It's obvious you love your parents a great deal. They're loving, enabling people with great big hearts. Maybe then it's time for you to get the book on boundaries. It looks like you're headed down the path where they're going to need support at some point, and where are you going to draw the line? Are you going to give them money? Are you going to let them move in with you?

This sounds really rough... but if you're resigned to the fact that they're going to squander their assets, it would be wise to give some serious thought to how much support you're willing to give or support them. Bankruptcy at their age doesn't mean quite so much - but it's still one of the most stressful things any person can go through...

Another posted suggested a clergyman, and I think that if that's an option, it's a superb one. A respected religious leader can say those things that need to be said, and get listened to because of his/her office. Good luck, I'm praying for y'all.


Is there an option to work with your deadbeat sibling to help him choose a better institution to present to the parents? That way he still saves face (whatever that's worth) and you don't look adversarial.

j5 j5

re: the amount of support i'd give my parents... any and all they would ever need, and yes, they could live with us too, if things became difficult... but i won't go into debt so my parents can support my brother. I've even thought of giving my brother some go-away money... but like roaches - he won't leave a good source of food.

as for working with him to find a better lender - unfortunately, he is the type where there is no "working with" - he either co-opts the process until fights erupt, or drops the ball with crucial details. That's why i mentioned there was no way for me to get only a little involved. IF i get involved, it'll have to be all the way.

Its hard to remain objective and non adversarial with my brother, and i fully acknowledge that. His ideas and schemes are so off the wall, that it's like discussing business ideas with a 10 year old. Entertaining at first, but then you realize it involves real money that was meant for my parents to live on in retirement.


@goatcrapp: Glad you've given it some thought about how much support you'll lend your parents. Make sure your siblings have started thinking about this too, and your spouse (if applicable) is on board with this plan. Your parents are financially careening for the cliff. You shouldn't take on this burden alone though, have frank open discussions with your siblings.

Good luck.


I think you've gotten a lot of good insights and advice here. I can't add anything. But I will say Good Luck! To you and your parents, and it's great that you're prepared to support them.


It's crazy how similar my situation is. Loser brother who basically stole our parents entire retirement. Sold off house, any possessions of value, all accounts, and they just didn't listen to reason. I got to the point where I basically disowned my mom (as dad is dead now). we still talk on the phone once in a while, but I can't justify helping her out anymore. And my brother, he burned bridges that cannot be rebuilt.
Gladly I live 1600 miles away. Just let your parents make the mistakes.


i have no good answer. it is too bad you can't set it up so that a failure (and emptying your parents' assets) comes with a cost to your bro. unfortunately, a contract that (if the worst happens) forces him to donate a kidney to a deserving stranger is likely not legally binding.

no1 no1

At some point you have to decide to deal with it in whatever way you would if he wasn't your brother.

I made the mistake of doing business with my oldest brother, against my better judgement because I knew he was untrustworthy.

He ended up embezzling from my company to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars. Rather than pressing charges, I simply fired him. He wouldn't even apologize, so I cut business ties. But he resented that, as if he was the victim, and so tried to tell my customers that it was HIS business and tried to stay in business, claiming that I was the fake.

I ended up filing a lawsuit in federal court and got a permanent federal injunction against him ever having anything to do with my trademarks. Recently, I found out he's ignoring the injunction and smuggling counterfeits of my product. So now I'm going to press charges and put him in jail. It's the only way to avoid bankrupting my own family (wife and kid). I can't afford to see him as my brother anymore.


That river in Egypt is a powerful influence.
They probably believe that your brother just needs a little more than others.
They won't listen. They won't change. The pig ain't singing.

It was done to my father's father. The drunk useless uncle moved in to "help him out".
Within a year, he had control over the finances, and he was on the deed.
To help keep their shares intact, the other brothers "helped out", and moved the old man to a small apartment to "make things easier".
Of course they sold the house right away, and split the money so they could all "help" their dad out.

Now it's tradition. My barely working brother, who has many varied framed certificates, including auto shop, motorcycle maintenance, computer and tv repair, and HVAC, moved our dad in with him to "help him out".
Then my brother moved his useless troubled son and family into dad's house, to "help take care" of it.
Guess who's name is on all the paperwork?

Me? I moved cross country, and I call sometimes.


@nortonsark: I kind of get the feeling that a statement like that wouldn't necessarily be sarcasm.