By Alma Gill
Little Brother Working My Last Nerve
My little brother is getting on my last nerve. He is 32 and can’t seem to get it together. He is always calling me telling me how his water is about to be cut off or his car broke down and he doesn’t know how he’s gonna get to work. I get so tired of hearing about his money problems and I don’t know why he thinks I’m supposed to fix it. I have loaned him money forever. I save my money for emergencies and that’s what he should do, too. I just don’t know what to do. If I don’t help him, he will probably become homeless, lose his car and then his job and it would be worse. Sometimes I feel like all I do is fix his problems and I don’t even think he appreciates me. What would you suggest I do to make him more mature?
TiaMarie, Houston, Texas
Oh my, my to the contrary TiaMarie, he is much more mature and smart than you’re giving him credit for. He’s so smart he has you under his spell, dry-begging you towards feeling obligated to repair his despair, with your hammer, tool-belt and all.
I’ve got a feeling it goes something like this:
Him: Hey Sis, I don’t have enough money to pay my water bill this month. *silence….crickets*
You: What! Boy imma pay it this time, but you better give me my money back!
Umhmm, am I close? He nudged you step, by step down that diving board and before you gave it a second thought, you opened your mouth and – bounce – dived right in. Once again, nominating yourself to be the one who’ll “fix” his problem.
Oh wait, and now on top of all that, you’re angry at him for accepting your offer. Why, Miss Lilly Lifeguard? You’ve rescued him, again, albeit through his silently solicited salutations, LOL.
Nothing will change until you say no, returning his responsibilities to him on a silver platter. Trust me on this one. After that first no, it gets easier and easier.
You might not like it, but I’m removing you from “Jesus” status. You’ll thank me later. I understand you’re doing what you think is best, but consider this – there’s a possibility you could be blocking his blessings, stunting his growth. If you’re the one always holding up an umbrella while yawl are walking in the rain, there’s no need for him to check the weather forecast. You get what I’m sayin?
I know you love him, but do your brother a favor, exercise a spoon full of tough love and reel it in. Given the chance, he’ll find some “I can do it” nestled down in his own back pocket. Before long you and he both will be prouder than peach pie that he’s stepped up to the plate and is handlin’ his bidness!
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and Twitter @almaaskalma.