Oh Brother, Trouble Weighs A Ton...
May 20, 2012 7:56 AM   Subscribe

My 22-year-old brother is an inconsiderate jerk. My parent's have kicked him out. He's about to be homeless in an hour, with literally nothing to his name. I want to help him not live in a ditch but should I do that?

Oh, Mefites, have I got some family drama for you!

I'd like some help on navigating a family situation quite a few years in the making. See, I have this 22 year old brother. Basically, he's a spoiled rotten mess. He's rude, he sleeps all day and only wakes to go to his job, he's constantly driving and fucking up my parents vehicles, and did I mention that while we all bend over backwards to help him out when we can he's a giant jerkoff most of the time? Yeah, there's that.

He has been living with my parents (who happen to live across the street from me) since high school graduation. He's had a few jobs, good ones too, but inevitably leaves them when he feels even a little slighted, and sits around for months while waiting for something to fall in his lap. About a year ago my (now ex-) boyfriend got him a job and through that job my brother got his CDL, which was what he'd been dreaming about since trucking with my dad as a youngster. He makes about $500 a week, has no bills, eats for free at my parents, and my mother is even kind enough to wash his damn underwear. He drives my dad's vehicle to and from work.

A few months back, my parents decided to let his girlfriend move in with them also. She's a great girl who's been dealt a real shit hand in life but she works incredibly hard, has pulled herself out of the poverty hole in which she was raised, gotten an education, and pulls her weight around the house. She's shy but pleasant to my family and we all love her. She's good for him. Unfortunately, he tends to drag her poor ass down. Ugh.

In short, bro was SUPPOSED to be saving for a vehicle while my parents paid his way for the most part. The goal was for he and his girlfriend to move out by the end of May, get their own place, and start a life together. Bro has not done that. He's blown through pert' near $2500 in a month and has not saved a dime. When he's not working he's out partying. I absolutely cannot fathom, nor can my (very tight knit) family, where his money is going. Before we go there, he's not on drugs, so who knows.

Things have come to a head this morning. While my mother has spent my brother's 22 years on this planet coddling him, she's fed up. He railed on his lady last night particularly hard and cursed her out. This is obviously unacceptable, especially since his doing so just reeks of the verbal abuse that used to be hurled towards my sister by her ex-husband. It's a sensitive subject in our family -- you DO NOT EVER speak to a woman that way. My mother watching my brother interact and ultimately mistreat his girlfriend has opened her eyes. She's made excuses for him all these years and we've complained about him getting away with whatever he wants. Now, she's kicked him out. My brother is totally homeless as of an hour ago.

I get where she's coming from. When he's around he's an utter bear to deal with. He's got a shitty entitled attitude. Plus, when my mother is done, when she's had it, she's quite volatile, I'll give him that but he's basically earned this.

Here is my dilemma: He's my brother. He is now without a home (none of his friends live here anymore), he's without a vehicle, and tomorrow he'll be without a job. He has a couple hundred bucks in savings but basically his only option is to hoof himself and his belongings up to the local motel. Unfortunately, we live in a small town and they will not be open until Tuesday so until then, he's up a creek. I spoke to him in person about this earlier and basically said, as he tried to lay his current predicament at my parent's feet, that he earned this shit. That his concept of living as adult is utterly screwed. That his speaking to his girlfriend and family in the way he does is totally unacceptable and it just reeks of Spoiled Brat Syndrome. My parents have greatly contributed to this but ultimately, he's a grown up now and should get it together. I do not blame my mother (my dad's not totally behind her on this) -- I get where's she's coming from and I agree with her 100%.

But...uh, kid's homeless. He's my brother. Letting him stay here is not the smartest. In our family, I suffer his shit the least so we'd be at each other's throats over his asshole ways in a day. I have a 7-year-old and I'm not doing that. He could stay with our sister but that's gonna call out the wrath of my mom which is...Christ, no one wants that.

I told my mom I had her back 110%. And then he was over here bawling about this situation and kid's right. He's totally screwed. He's earned it but watching him wretch and panic was heartbreaking, no matter how much of a shit he can be.

So. What are the options here? If your brother was a total turd with no respect or sense of value or ability to live life as a grown-up, what would you do? How do I help him figure this out? Do I help him at all? Genuinely, he has earned this. GENUINELY HE HAS. But he's my little brother! I know I can't teach or force him to grow up over night but is this the answer, to just turn him out? My mother seems very firm on this but is it wise to try to talk her out of it and if I can, what are some conditions she could lay down and stick to (something that, admittedly, she is obviously poor at)? My speaking up on his behalf is going to A. make me look like a hypocrite because I've been on her for years to teach him that not everything is given so freely in adult life and B. she ain't gonna like it. But is the answer to go from 0-60 overnight, from coddling one day to "YOU'RE OUT!" the next? Is there not a buffer area here that I can suggest before he ends up totally homeless?
posted by youandiandaflame to Human Relations (101 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
He won't end up totally homeless. He will very quickly figure out what he has to do to survive--apologize, grow up, find a way to work, whatever--and will do it.
posted by liketitanic at 8:02 AM on May 20, 2012 [38 favorites]

Sounds like your brother could benefit from some better boundaries. Having him on the street might do some good. Don't take him in. Give him a few weeks. If his attitude changes, reassess the situation.
posted by Happydaz at 8:03 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

What are the options here?

Well, as you say: He has a couple hundred bucks in savings but basically his only option is to hoof himself and his belongings up to the local motel.

You can't learn lessons for him. Maybe it's time he learns them for himself.
posted by mazola at 8:05 AM on May 20, 2012 [27 favorites]

But is the answer to go from 0-60 overnight, from coddling one day to "YOU'RE OUT!" the next? Is there not a buffer area here that I can suggest before he ends up totally homeless?

It seems like your parents made a real effort to establish that buffer with paying his bills while he had the opportunity to save up for his own place and his own vehicle. It's just that your brother completely passed on the opportunity.
posted by Benjy at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2012 [16 favorites]

I suspect that you already know this. but . . .
You can't fix him. Your mom can't fix him.
Sometimes the best way to help someone is to not give them any help. He needs to learn that HE is responsible for himself, He needs to learn that the choices he makes have a direct effect on him. He needs to learn to grow up and face the real world. And that often means suffering consequences for your actions. It often means hitting bottom.
Ask yourself, are you doiing him any favors by delaying his learning experience by removing consequences from him?
Easier said than done, I know.
Good luck to you.
posted by bookmammal at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do nothing. Advise him if he asks for it, but otherwise he is not going to grow and learn. He's a 22 year old healthy male. He will either rise up or not, but the younger he learns this lesson the healthier he will be in the future. It might hurt to watch him now, but if you enable him, think of how sad it will be to see him at 40 like this.

Stay out of this. Tell him you love him, but this is his battle to fight.
posted by Vaike at 8:08 AM on May 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

Let him sleep in a tent in the backyard?
posted by discopolo at 8:10 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Happydaz & Benjy: BOUNDARIES, yes! The thing here is, and I want to be clear because it speaks to the larger issue here, is that my parents have never established a single boundary for this kid. He breaks a vehicle, they find him a (nice!) one. He doesn't have money, they give (not loan!) it to him. Mom would say, "Hey, you need to give me $200 of your check this week" for your vehicle savings, he never did it, and that was the end of that. Same thing again next week. This kid has never had a single bad consequence for anything. EVER. I'm just worried that going from Hey Buddy, You Want A Racecar? Sure! to Have Fun Living In The Ditch, Brat! isn't the way to go.

(Done threadsitting now, keep the help coming!)
posted by youandiandaflame at 8:11 AM on May 20, 2012

Actually stay out of it. You already have a kid.
posted by discopolo at 8:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [33 favorites]

Your question is, should i put him up until Tuesday when the motel reopens, am I correct? NO NO NO. Tell him to ask at the local church or the local police station and they will direct him to a homeless shelter. The worst thing you can do is to let him stay for even one night. Let him learn
posted by uans at 8:15 AM on May 20, 2012 [23 favorites]

I think you know you shouldn't help him but you feel guilty. That is understandable. We love our family, even when they're screw-ups, and we want them to have a good life. But you can't give it to someone; they have to earn it for themselves. It sounds like your parents figured this out over many years of trial and error. If you step in now and offer him yet another safety net, why do you think the outcome will be different? I suspect if you solve this problem for him, in six months or so you'll be kicking him out and withdrawing your support as well.

I know it's terrible seeing your brother cry in your living room, but keep in mind that he has gotten by for years by emotionally manipulating people who care about him. Since it quit working on his parents, he's moving onto you.

I also want to add that if you offer him assistance, you're essentially undermining what has had to be an extremely difficult decision for your parents. I doubt that it's quite as black and white as you're seeing from the outside; there have probably been quite a few ultimatums at various times and your brother surely cannot be completely surprised it's come to this. It seems abrupt because they've finally realized it's time to stick to their guns, and that should be lauded.

Your brother is an adult. All of us have "oh shit" moments of various degrees when we're trying to figure out how to live in our own; this is his. If you take it away from him and fix his problems, why would he ever have motivation to figure this stuff out on his own?

You can love someone without supporting their failure of a lifestyle.
posted by something something at 8:16 AM on May 20, 2012 [13 favorites]

He's young, he's healthy, he has no dependents, and (assuming you're in the northern hemisphere) the weather is good. He'll be FINE. Unhappy, sure, but basically fine.

If you help him now, you'll only further extend this shitty, painful process.

Let him figure things out on his own. Don't fix this for him.

(And as a side note, plenty of kids have parents who support them in ways you describe, and most of those kids don't act the way your brother acts. Maybe your parents could have avoided this, maybe they couldn't, but at this point he's an adult and he's responsible for his own actions.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 8:17 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Is this the best possible way your parents could go about setting your brother up to succeed in adulthood? Probably not. But is it substantially better than what they've been doing for the last few years? Absolutely.

Your brother sounds like a relatively smart, charming guy with some real resources. He has a job and friends and life skills. He will not starve. He might suffer and struggle for a while, but now is the best possible time for him to make mistakes and learn from them. He's not stupid, and he'll learn quickly that there's a relationship between the effort he puts into his life and the satisfaction he gets from it. If he fails, it's very likely to be temporary and to teach him lessons that will serve him will for the rest of his life

You can be there for him as his sister by giving him advice when he asks for it and cheering him on when he succeeds. But absolutely do not take him in, give him money, or otherwise support him materially. Take care of your own family. Love him, but don't make the mistake your parents did in letting your love for him blind you to what's best for him in the long term. Letting him fail a little now is the best gift you all can give him.
posted by decathecting at 8:18 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I perhaps should have mentioned that the vehicle he drives belongs to my parents. They've taken that back as well. He is without a vehicle and will lose his job tomorrow if he cannot get there. Left that out...
posted by youandiandaflame at 8:23 AM on May 20, 2012

If he was an alcoholic, you might be less inclined to feel guilty because "hitting rock bottom" has become such a common idea that it is rarely questioned. He needs this to be his rock bottom. You taking him in or helping him find his way will only delay this necessary development. And was pointed out above, you have your own family which is your primary responsibility.
posted by karlos at 8:24 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

He is without a vehicle and will lose his job tomorrow if he cannot get there.

Can you give him a ride to work? I understand that this undermines some small part of the lesson which he needs to learn, but it seems to be that keeping this job is an opportunity for him to better learn a more important part of that lesson.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:28 AM on May 20, 2012 [14 favorites]

I have a wondering (as a former hard drug user) if drugs might be in there somewhere (you said no but short of a drug test, who knows) That's a lot of money to blow through. That also might explain the chewing out of the girlfriend (I mean, it happens w/o drugs, but if there is a NO WAY ON THAT SHIT rule in the house -- maybe drugs -- use of coke, say, could play a role).

Yet another reason to not let him stay in your house. I've worked in homeless shelters. They are never anyplace you would choose to sleep, but as long as it's a relatively safe one, he'll have a roof over his head.
posted by angrycat at 8:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

He is without a vehicle and will lose his job tomorrow if he cannot get there. Left that out...

I think maybe if you or the family absolutely insist on helping him out, perhaps the best choice might be to offer him a ride to work, then. I absolutely agree with everyone else that he needs to get his act together and you all need to stop enabling him. But it's going to be a lot harder for him to do this if he doesn't have a job.

Perhaps (perhaps) a compromise might entail getting him back and forth between wherever he ends up staying and his work. And by that I mean you or someone actually picking him up and dropping him off at his workplace and wherever he ends up living, NOT letting him borrow the car, and NOT taking him over to his friends' places after work so he can party with them.

Yeah, that's work for whoever ends up doing it, but that's just another reason for them to make it uncomfortable for your brother so he doesn't just rely on this and puts whatever he can scrape up from his paychecks toward a car of his own.
posted by Naberius at 8:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Please believe that I'm saying this with kindness--but you are still making excuses for him in this thread. He has no car . . . he'll lose his job. . . he just needs better boundaries . . .
I suspect that others have been making excuses for him for years, which has "helped" him get himself into this mess.
If he's going to grow up, HE needs to live with the consequences of his actions. WIll he be uncomfortable? Yes. Will being uncomfortable help him grow up? I truly hope that you and your family can hold firm and give him the chance to find out.
posted by bookmammal at 8:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [20 favorites]

If you swoop in to bail him out, you'll enable the behavior that has gotten him into this situation. He won't learn anything, but, rather, he'll realize he can still behave that way and there's always a back-up.

Your first priority should be your child. Is this good for your child? No. Your brother will not die.

Your brother needs to learn to be an adult, which you can help him do by not bailing him out. If you let him stay, you'll become your mother.

Be strong! Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 8:30 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

He is without a vehicle and will lose his job tomorrow if he cannot get there.

That seems like a silly reason to lose a job. Does he not even have enough money to call a cab? Or have any friends whatsoever who could give him a ride to work?
posted by burnmp3s at 8:30 AM on May 20, 2012 [15 favorites]

So what if he loses his job? You say that this has happened to him before. Obviously it doesn't trouble him -- don't let it trouble you. (Possibly he could take public transportation?) The guy sounds like a big baby. He needs to do some growing up. It's not for you to provide this.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:30 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

A friend can give him a lift. Etc. your mother threw him out because he was verbally abusive to his girlfriend, something which he was taught not to do. So you really don't know what warnings he was or wasn't given. I feel little sympathy when i hear of a grown man crying no fair no fair in these circumstances. Tell him it's time to act like a grownup and step by step find a way out of the mess he created. I know you love him but the worst thing you can do now is enable him
posted by uans at 8:32 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

A few years ago I helped my sister out when she was about to lose her job and home, paying her mortgage, utilities and car payments for six months after she'd got herself into a hole financially (by spending her money partying, on men and trying to buy friends) and she had a mental breakdown. I made it clear that it was not unconditional, and that I expected her to get some therapy or counselling, cut down the partying, make some sensible choices and be responsible for herself in the future.

Nothing changed, she turned out to be even more of a worthless human being than I ever thought possible, and I'm done with her. If she should crash and burn again, she's on her own, but nobody can accuse me of never helping her out because I did it once and she threw it back in my face. She had the only chance I was prepared to give her to act lke a decent person but she blew it.

If you feel you're able to, and if you want to, give him a chance but make it clear that it's a one-off and is conditional on him shaping up. Set clear boundaries, stick to them and as soon as he breaches those boundaries, kick him to the kerb. As soon as you allow him to bend the rules you set, he'll take advantage, so it's really important to stick to your guns, no matter how painful you might find it to see him schlepping his clothes to a fleabag motel.

It may well be that he'll turn a corner if he lives with you, but from what you say, it's unlikely. But if you've given him a chance, at least you'll feel you've kept your own side of the street clean if it all goes pear-shaped for him.
posted by essexjan at 8:33 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I told my mom I had her back 110%

Helping him out would be undermining her.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:34 AM on May 20, 2012 [15 favorites]

I have been in a similar situation. He will be ok without your help and will most likely end up leaning on his GF until she tells him to get lost. Users like him are particularly resourceful; they rarely starve to death. At best, you'd be enabling him. You have a kid; there's no way your child deserves to have to be around this train wreck.
posted by gohabsgo at 8:35 AM on May 20, 2012

Yeah, you told your mom you've got her back? Then get her back. Let him figure out his own shit.

Is the girlfriend still living at your parents'? If she's allowed to stay, while your brother is out on his ass, maybe that would drive it all home to him even more.

He'll be fine. That, or a month of everyone else not wiping his ass for him will straighten him up.
posted by notsnot at 8:38 AM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

Get him a bike? Millions of people from much less supportive backgrounds and many more responsibilities make it to and from work every day without dying.
posted by Think_Long at 8:39 AM on May 20, 2012 [15 favorites]

You know the saying, "The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the second-best time is today"? The same basic principle applies here. The best time for your brother to start dealing with the consequences of his actions (and how his behavior influences other people) was years ago, but he has this opportunity now.

Lend him a tent, perhaps. If he starts walking now, I bet he can make it to work before tomorrow morning. He can get a car with a low down payment on credit. He can stay in a motel. He can turn around, but he has to do this himself.
posted by bookdragoness at 8:42 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

He is without a vehicle and will lose his job tomorrow if he cannot get there.

That seems like a silly reason to lose a job. Does he not even have enough money to call a cab? Or have any friends whatsoever who could give him a ride to work?

You know what, burnmp3 is right. I mostly withdraw my suggestion about maybe giving him a ride to work so he can keep his job.
posted by Naberius at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Although I'm all in favor of tough love, in this economy, he's really lucky to have a job, since it sounds like he has no other real skills. If I were in your place, I'd give him a ride to work tomorrow, or maybe the next few days, until he can arrange a ride with a coworker or something.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:50 AM on May 20, 2012

Let him sway in the wind for a week or 2 or 3. If you see he is starting to try to get his shit together then maybe start by offering a small helping hand. Yes it's hard watching him freak out, but right now he is freaking out, maybe hoping you'll help him instead of using that energy to try and figure out what to do.

Sometimes the baby birdy needs a good hard shove out of the next to get it to fly.
posted by wwax at 8:54 AM on May 20, 2012

While tough love is important, I think having him lose his job as well as his living situation, family, etc. could be so drastic as to harm him for years to come. You could find that you could lose HIM from your life.

I think it's reasonable to offer him a ride to work for a short time (up to 1 week) until he finds a new way to get to work (bike, bus, friend, cab, whatever). There must be a hard limit, though: "after _____ we will NOT be driving you to work any longer."
posted by lewedswiver at 8:56 AM on May 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

We've had a similar issue in my family, only the person in question is now about 30, and still does not quite seem to get it. It is possible to support someone without enabling their bad behavior, but it's a difficult line to walk. Obviously, given our success rate (admittedly, I'm not really involved at all, as I've lived several hundred miles away for about a decade), I can't offer much help, but I did want to pop in to say that you need to stay strong and remember that, whatever approach you decide to take, no matter how hard it may be for you, it is in his best interest. Tough love, and all that.
posted by divisjm at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2012

Yes, offer him a ride on a day-to-day basis. E.g., Yes, I can do it tomorrow. Not sure about Wednesday, though- you'll have to ask around at work or take the bus. And don't screw up your own life to turn into his chauffeur. If you have a doctor's appointment, don't change it just to give him a ride to work. If giving him a ride means he has to get there an 90 minutes too early, tough. Beggars can't be choosers.

Don't let him or yourself get in the habit of it, or he'll take it for granted. (No knock on him- why wouldn't he take it for granted when people have been giving him stuff all his life?)

I would probably also offer him a meal every couple days if you can afford it, but that's because food it very important to me. It doesn't seem as important to the guys in my life.

He's 22. He's intelligent. He's healthy. He'll figure it out, even if it means sleeping in a ditch for a few days.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:04 AM on May 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

Also, 22 is a great age for your parents to do this. It would be a lot tougher at age 30 to suddenly have to change how you've done things, and people are much more forgiving of a 22 year old screwing up than a 30 year old. He'll get more couch surfing offers, etc.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:05 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

He'll figure something out. "Homeless" and "sleeping in a ditch" is sort of an extreme way of thinking of his situation. He'll crash with someone.

Come to his rescue now and he'll wash up on your porch anytime things with mom and dad take a bad swerve. You'll officially become Plan B. You don't want that.
posted by hermitosis at 9:07 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Well, if he does end up sleeping in a ditch, it's not winter. I was homeless for a while back in the day and it sucked. Bad. If he has a little money for motels, then he'll be okay. I would suggest that even if it weren't, your first thought needs to be your 7-year-old.

I'd give him a ride, but I'd ask for gas money if you think he has it. Up front. Seriously.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:11 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

Also, IF you offer to drive him to work, I think you need to charge him for gas money & your chauffeur time, as in "Hand me $10 before you buckle your seatbelt or I'm not driving you anywhere", rather than "Ok, you're going to pay me for this gas money when you're back on you feet." Otherwise you will find yourself driving him around forever, he will take it for granted, and you will have nothing to show for your time & wasted gas.

Trust me. I have had this exact scenario happen twice in the past year with 22-year-old leaches who were supposed to be helping us out & earning their keep, but instead just threw our family life into chaos & then left without ever paying us back.
posted by belladonna at 9:12 AM on May 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

OP I've seen something very similar (as in someone close to me did go through homeless shelters and it actually led to some improvements...there are resources available once you are in that situation, including jobs or programs for youth at risk (he probably still qualifies for the next few years)). I think that it is a possibility that he will end up somewhere like that if he only has a few hundred dollars, no friends in the area, and no current job. Once you fall into this, it can be hard to get better if there are underlying problems and under those conditions and little savings.There is stuff that I am not sharing here, but feel free to memail me and I will tell you/share more...I just don't want to post things tagged to the entire internet).

There may be an intermediate option to this. This is what I would do if you collectively had the support of your other sibling and parents.

If no one gives him rides, check in on him in one week to find out where he is staying/what he is doing. If it is a situation that doesn't look good, then someone could offer him help (let him stay) but contingent on following certain rules, such as: 1) Part of his salary goes to rent and food each month, based on what he earns; 2). He must be evaluated by a psychiatrist and/or psychologist (I just wonder if there is more underlying this....it can't be excluded and they can fully assess him) and go along with treatment if the mental health professionals recommend it; and 3). He must provide his own contribution to the household; and 4) There is a real timeline (X months). But no washing his clothes,etc. I don't think that it should be you, OP, because with a child there is too much at risk here.
posted by Wolfster at 9:13 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You've got a lot of adrenaline going on and probably a family history of drama in which it is a habit for you to participate. This is not your drama, and please don't make it your child's drama.

These are the logical outcomes of your brother's choices, and if you help him he will not change. Actually, this is also the logical outcome of your mother's choices - it's been a group project to get him where he is right now. Maybe if everyone gets out of his way he'll work it out. Or not. But he's the only one who can handle his situation now. Probably what he needs more than anything is for someone to respect his choices for once, even his choice to have nowhere to live and no car and nobody who wants to take care of his ass anymore.

Give him one ride to work in the morning. He can find a coworker to carpool with for gas money after that, or he can sleep nearby. Assuming you're in the US, he's unlikely die of exposure if he has to sleep outside for a while.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:14 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'll be the dissenter. I would never let my sibling live in a ditch, even if they'd been out killing people. If you live in a town small enough that the local motel is closed on weekends, then I'm guessing you aren't awash in cabs and shelters. And, this is the beginning of a very tough cycle. With no car and no access to food or showers, he loses his job. Still no shower, food, or car, he remains unemployed. How's he supposed to break out of that? In a small town? With the economy as it is today?

As it stands as of yesterday, his life wasn't exactly brimming with opportunity. If he worked every single week, he made $26,000/year. I assume no benefits? No real upward mobility?

So, here's what I would do: I would help him put together a plan to get out of the pit he's in now, and was in yesterday, actually. The plan would be something like this...
1. Stay with you through the end of the month.
2. Save every single penny of those next two paychecks. That's $1,000 to put with the, say, $250 he's got now.
3. He has one known marketable asset, which is his CDL. Williston, N.D. (3.5% unemployment rate, with pay very high jobs) is having a 2-day job fair on June 4-5, and the first day is for CDL jobs only. Inform boss that he will not be at work June 3-5. (Official job fair notice; scroll to red here to see list of companies that will be at the job fair).
4. With saved paychecks, get a round-trip Greyhound bus pass to Williston for June 4. Greyhound does go to Williston. About $350, which he surely has from 2 paychecks.
4a. If the girlfriend is still around and wants to go to Williston, she gets her own ticket with her own money, and attends the job fair on the second day.
4b. If he has questions about the job fair or Williston or jobs in that area, go to this city-data board and ask away.
5. Get a job that pays much more than what he has now, in a town far away so he'll have to depend on himself instead of others for the daily needs, probably with more overtime potential than he can handle.
6. Job probably starts 1-2 weeks after he applies (background checks, etc.), so he comes home and gets his affairs in order, returns to Williston to secure a place to live, and so on.

This plan puts him in a better financial situation, and puts him around scrappy adults who work hard for opportunity and self-reliance (which he will learn by watching, and out of necessity). He'll want to stay for the money, and he'll become an adult. You are giving him the tools he needs, and a solid plan (and dream) instead of a comfy hand-out.

Worst case scenario, this doesn't wash out. He's out $350 that he was going to blow anyway, and he knows that the world is bigger than that small town, and that he can go off and make it somewhere.
posted by Houstonian at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2012 [33 favorites]

If he were my brother, i'd hand him the number to the taxi company, a bus schedule and loan him a crappy old tent. That's it. Anything else is a disservice.

And I'm sorry this is so hard.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:20 AM on May 20, 2012 [8 favorites]

I have been a similar situation, and I have had--and exercised--the power to implement consequences when my parents would not.

If this were my brother, I would agree to drive him to work for x days until he could figure out alternate transportation. (Or until your mom caves on the car, which, let's face it, might happen.) But he would pay for my gas for each and every trip, plus a little extra to pay me for the time out of my schedule to drive him.

I would let him stay at my house for a max of let's say 6 months. And I would require him to pay me 1/3 of his salary as "rent." Which I would then return to him after the 6 months, but only if he were to use it as a security deposit on his own place.

I would make him settle up with me once a week. The first time he failed to settle up, I'd kick him out with 24 hours notice.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 9:32 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

He is without a vehicle and will lose his job tomorrow if he cannot get there.

You said he has a few hundred bucks in savings. He can take a cab.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 9:43 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Parasites always find someone else to leech off of. You're wanting to offer yourself up next to be sucked on if you help him in any way. If you so much as give him a ride to work, he'll be asking for more and more and you'll feel obligated to give it to him and next thing you know, you'll be like your parents. Don't even give him an inch, 'cause he'll take a mile.

Either he learns to shape up or he will find someone else to mooch off of. I've known a fair number of parasite people and I don't know one of 'em who actually ended up homeless and living on the street when they were cut off. I knew a couple who did live in a tent in someone's yard for about a month, but that's the worst I ever heard. These folks know how to sucker someone in. I would bet a serious amount of money that if you don't help him, he'll still manage to crash with a friend, or pick up some girl in a bar (girlfriend be damned) who will take him in, or something. I really don't think he will be starving and abused and sleeping on a street corner by the end of the week.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:46 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he's spending all his time and money partying then he must be doing it with someone and that's who he needs to be calling. Whether or not those people are his "friends" is his problem. He's out them above his family and girlfriend and future so let him lie in the(ir) beds he's made.
posted by marylynn at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

For the record and because I think it's necessary to mention, we live in a very rural area with a population of 1800. His place of employment is 30 miles from here. We have no cabs and and no public transportation. He WILL be fired because he works for a beer distributor and this is a holiday weekend for him. Calling in, for any reason, during this coming week and the week past is grounds for immediate termination. It will happen, that's a given.

I do quite like the tent idea. In fact, there's one in my car right now.

Houstonian: I love your take on this! Unfortunately, he's only had his CDL a couple months and most trucking companies require a good few years over the road (which he is not and will never be at his job) before taking someone on but it's still worth a suggestion.

My issue with this really is that I have a problem with my parents totally coddling him and then just kicking him out. As I mentioned my family is incredibly tight and I live across the street from my parents. I am fully privy to seriously every argument and ultimatum that's been issued and as for the latter there has just never been one. I'd much prefer and I think it would work a lot better if they would set some serious boundaries ("Across this line, YOU DO NOT CROSS!") but they haven't done that. I'd like to point that out to them but do not want to illicit their ire considering how dramatic things are today. I really don't think this kid is a parasite, he is just simply getting by with what they've let him get by with. Shit, if they'd let me live there and she'd wash my undies, I'd be all for that, too!

Thanks for the suggestions and support though, guys! It is truly appreciated.
posted by youandiandaflame at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2012

He is counting or you or someone else in your family solving his immediate problem: how to get to work. He needs to do this on his own. He has enough money to cab/rent a car/bus/bike do whatever else he needs to do in the short term.

Right now he's not homeless, he just needs to find a place to live. He has several hundred dollars and a job.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Let him move in, rent to be paid in advance per month, 400 bucks, no food provided, a curfew set, be in by 10 or you our kind of stuff. No rent no place. MAKE him buy a car and get insurance etc.

If he's making 2500 a month he can do this, if he won't abide, shove him out. Give a ticket to the big city. If he is partying every night he has friends who can take him in as well.

Impose responsibility or watch him flounder.

If he's burning through 2500 a month in rural areas with out much material gain, he is doing more than just drinking every night, just sayin...
posted by Max Power at 10:00 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

meant to be "you're on your own..."
posted by Max Power at 10:01 AM on May 20, 2012

There are a lot of things a person can do with a CDL that don't require years of experience beforehand. For example, driving a school bus.

If he's blowing through $2000 a month with literally nothing to show for it (not even electronics?), then chances are he either does have a problem he's hiding from you all like gambling maybe or he is spending it all with someone. I find it very difficult to believe that he knows literally no one from work or through his girlfriend that can't give him a ride to work if he offers to pay gas money. I live in a small rural area too, population 2800, no cab/bus service whatsoever, and I've only been here 3 years. I know at least 2 people not related to my husband that I could call in an urgent situation to see if I could get a ride.

If it were my brother, I'd tell him he could crash on my couch until Tuesday morning, but he's got to work out his own transportation issues.
posted by asciident at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

The thing is, if you start letting him camp in your back yard and start driving him to and from work, not only is that situation not going to stop, but he'll find ways to get you to let up even more: let him go inside becomes hang out inside becomes stay inside. Driving him to work for a week becomes driving him to work forever becomes letting him borrow the car.

There are taxi services in areas much more rural than yours. Just look in the yellow pages. Sure, they might have to send a cab from 10 or 30 miles away, but that's not your problem.

Why is it such a big deal if he loses his job? He's lost plenty before and didn't seem to mind.

If you want to help, which you clearly do, why not drive him to his job - right now. Not tomorrow when he needs to get there; right now. Just get in the car, drive him there, drop him off, and go back home. Do not pick him up from there; do not give him anything else. He can sleep in the bushes tonight, go to work tomorrow, and figure out how to sponge off of a coworker instead of you and mom.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 10:02 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

What I would say is this: If you don't have a place to sleep inside when the snow flies, you can crash here. If you are short of food, here's how to apply for assistance and here's a list of local food pantries.

Unless you're southern hemisphere, it's late May. He's not going to die of exposure. If he loses a job, if he gets arrested--so? He did the things that led to those consequences and he's going to need to feel them. They won't prevent him from ever being self-supporting for the rest of his life.

If he literally has no friends or coworkers willing to give him a ride and not even enough cash for a cab, then he's got issues at the moment that need a larger solution than maintaining one in a long line of jobs he probably wouldn't otherwise have kept very long in the first place.

It wasn't even based on anything I did wrong, and I can tell you that a few nights in a shelter were enough to make me resolve to never, ever, ever, ever have to be in that position again. It's totally justified to want to give your brother a safe place to fall, but he doesn't need that, right now. He needs a kick in the pants. Living with the consequences of his actions is not going to kill him, and if he's not in physical danger, you should not feel obligated to rescue him from discomfort of his own creation.
posted by gracedissolved at 10:10 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Absolutely do not help him, and do not feel guilty about it. He needs to grow up. The only time that I would help him is if he gets really sick and needs medicine. That's it, though. If you help him right now, it will make him think he's got you on his side against the world, when really, he's the one that needs to know that you want him to change as much as the rest of the world does.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:13 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're framing this as "Should I help my brother or not?" I'd suggest that you consider it in a wider context. By offering him extended support, you undermine your mother (despite agreeing with her 100%) and you undermine your brother's girlfriend by implicitly protecting your brother from the consequences of his abusive behavior. So maybe the real question is, "What can I do that would send the right messages to everyone who's suffering here?"
posted by muhonnin at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ultimately, this issue is between your brother and your parents. Your only involvement should be to back up your mom. It sounds like it was a really difficult decision for her to make. Don't undermine her by letting him camp in your yard or driving him to work.

And your brother CAN get to work, if he really wants to. I bet there is a cab company in the nearest big town that would cost major $$ to drive out there but would get him to his job. He could hitch hike. He could call one of his coworkers from a payphone. If he loses his job, well, he's not the first person.

I know this must be so tough for you. For some perspective, my mom has been dealing with this for the past, oh, thirty years with her 52 year old younger brother. He lives in his car and out of motels and routinely calls my grandmother and my mom to beg for mother. He lived with us off and on throughout his twenties. He started asking me for money when I was in my teens. The dynamic between my mother, grandmother, and him is so awful now. My mom and grandma often talk about how they wish they had cut him off years ago.

PLEASE see this as an opportunity for your brother. It might really be the last time everyone is on board to help him the hard way. Block his number if you have to.
posted by pintapicasso at 10:19 AM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

> Across this line, YOU DO NOT CROSS!") but they haven't done that.

They did, when he abused his girlfriend in front of them. I've read the whole thread, and I conclude you should not help him beyond a very minimum, and only if he asks for help. Do not rush in to rescue him (which you have already done by thinking of this and posting this). Based on the thread, I think it would be reasonable to lend or give him a tent (which you say you have) and realize you may never get it back, and at most drop him off near his work asap, one time only, telling him you know he can make it.
I agree that the wasted money is probably hiding another problem, and unfortunately it's probably not just buying too many drinks for himself and his friends, but that is his problem, not yours.
posted by Listener at 10:20 AM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

Your mom did set a boundary - a hard one, but she did, and she's enforcing it, so I think you should acknowledge that after all this time that must've been really difficult and is a real accomplishment on her part. I do think that if you start supporting your brother you are undermining the support you say you have for her. If you start taking care of him you're playing into the cycle of drama in your family of coddling him.

I know this is hard and frustrating - I watched my mom coddle a sibling for 25 years. My mother chaperoned this kid to school every.single.day, a 25 mile ONE WAY trip, and also worked. I admit the fact that he's blowing a couple of grand every month on, uh, something, kills my sympathy for this situation.

Like muhonnin said, you need to think about this in a bigger context; if you start supporting him, I think you're sending the message to your mom that you don't have her back on this, and that her reason for kicking him out and cutting off support is illegitimate. Given that it was over verbally abusing his girlfriend, I don't think that's a particularly good message. You're role modeling appropriate family behaviors for your kid right now, and I think that role modeling strong boundaries and not rewarding unacceptable behavior is a solid one.
posted by circle_b at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

I also want to say that it sounds like you and your family have been through a lot and I can tell in your post that you all love one another very much. I really respect your mom for recognizing his abusive behavior and caring enough to put her foot down. She sounds like a real decent lady.
posted by pintapicasso at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Might suggest that he start thinking about the cheapest form of transportation he can possibly get and work from there. He can't afford a car+insurance+registration, but a bike wouldn't need those things and a scooter might not, depending where you live. Can he stay/camp somewhere close to work, so he could bike or scooter there?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do not let him stay at your house, once he's in he wont leave. Support your mum, she will probably want to cave, you need to support her in her decision and help her stick to it.

If you really live in a place so desolate that there are no cabs, buses or car hires and the car your parents lend him is the only way to get to work then talk your parents into letting him borrow the car for a fair rental fee (paid in advance) until he can make other arrangements.

Stop making excuses for him and stop blaming your parents. They didn't tie him down and force him to be reckless and financially irresponsible. They didn't make him verbally abuse his girlfriend. You have your own home, a job and a child - why aren't you still living at home and sponging off your parents? Did they kick you out or did you just get on with your life like a grown up?
posted by missmagenta at 10:36 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he has a couple hundred bucks in savings, he can buy a bike. Biking 30 miles along rural roads sucks, but literally millions of people do it every day, and he can be one of them.
posted by KathrynT at 10:40 AM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

I would suggest that whatever you do, you have to keep him away from your child at all costs. He may be your brother, but he's clearly a very bad influence waiting to happen. Your kid needs good role models at this young age and he isn't it. This is especially true if your child is male.
posted by pandanom at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tell him to buy a bus ticket to a bigger city where one of his friends live (or where there's a homeless shelter). If he's 22 and able-bodied he can find something to do, even if he's a day laborer.

My friend's brother is like this, and his parents began a cycle of kicking him out and taking him back. I wouldn't be surprised if your mom relents when he calls begging to come back and promising to be good. My friend's brother is FORTY (that's 40, or 22 + 18) and still lives at home. (My friend has not spoken to him in 15+ years.)
posted by desjardins at 11:22 AM on May 20, 2012

Also, if you're in the northern hemisphere, it's summer. Lots of landscaping, farm work, etc.
posted by desjardins at 11:23 AM on May 20, 2012

He works thirty miles away - is this in a larger town, one that would have motels and shelters that are open now? If it is, you could offer to drive him there and leave him tonight, so that he will be able to get to work and find himself a place to stay, rather than in your own little town, and be able to get his ass to work in the morning.
posted by dilettante at 11:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

wait wait wait.

When he's not working he's out partying.

Are these invisible friends? If not, do they have floors in their homes? Cars? Problem solved.
posted by desjardins at 11:29 AM on May 20, 2012 [14 favorites]

First off, I want to join with the rest of the folks who say that if you support your mom's decision, you should honor it. You say yourself that you haven't spent much time dealing with him. They have. Understand that they may know better. As for the rides to work - this is job 101, and yes, I know about rural living, I used to drive 20 miles to work myself. He needs to get one lift - to the town where his work is. He can get a motel room there, or a room with his saved money and continue to go to work. What he doesn't get to do is lay around his hometown moping about how unfair it all is. If you care about him DO NOT offer to drive him to work. Really, this is a an unrealistic scenario. Are you truly prepared to drive 60 miles every morning to help his ungrateful butt stay employed? With his track record, he's not going to save enough money to get a car in the foreseeable future. Do you want him dependent on you for his job? In the words of the immortal Ann Landers - butt out!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:32 AM on May 20, 2012

You say you have your mom's back, so don't, for the love of god, undermine her decision. Your brother put himself in this situation. He did not follow the terms of the agreement to save money toward moving out, so he is now realizing the consequences of this decision. If you take him in, give him a ride to work, you are not letting him learn.

Let me repeat that: You are not letting him learn.

Your feeling bad for him is natural, since you love him, and it means you are a caring, empathetic person. But that does not mean you are obligated to let him use you.

You have to let him flounder through this. He has to learn that if he fucks up, there will be a toll, not that somebody else will pick up the slack. There will be other jobs, other girlfriends, and he just may figure out how to function as an adult.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:33 AM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You know, he could just live near where he works. Why does he have to commute for 30 miles instead of living near where he works?

Put me in the tough love school. And I say this as a person who has parents filled with disowning drama.
posted by jadepearl at 11:41 AM on May 20, 2012

It's May. It's warm outside. The grasses are soft right now. Do not bring this dog indoors until he learns some manners.
Do not undermine your mother by letting him stay with you.
He is at the best possible point in his life to learn how to be an adult. Let him do that.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:44 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

What jumps out at me is that you consider all of this to be somehow your problem. You have absorbed the unspoken lesson of your mother that your brother is to be coddled.

Offer to drive him to work this weekend so he does not get fired. Maybe. But that is the beginning and end of your help.
posted by LarryC at 12:17 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know what you should do, but look at each of your responses, you're making excuses for him in every one. You're sounding like how you described your parents handled the situation before they tossed him.
posted by dripdripdrop at 12:21 PM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

If he works 30 miles away, you can offer to drive him to the nearest motel to work. He can then get a cab or whatever from there. Do not let him live with you.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:28 PM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

(To be clear, I mean drive him 30 miles to the town where he works, and let him find a motel there.)
posted by DarlingBri at 12:29 PM on May 20, 2012

This is not a crisis; not even close to a crisis. His friends have couches. He has a good job, and can get a car and a car loan with not much trouble. (Advise your parents not to co-sign; he's a bad risk for them.) His girlfriend can stay with your parents or couch-surf with him while he looks for an apartment. Offer to drive him to work until he gets a car; no more than a week. Have a heart-to-heart with his GF, and give her the names and numbers of family violence support groups. It's hard to say if his crappy attitude will get worse, but not dealing with it won't help.
posted by theora55 at 12:49 PM on May 20, 2012

If his most immediate goal is to get to work tomorrow, that's what he should focus on. Like desjardins said, who does he party with? And I'm assuming that his girlfriend knows people too? He's going to figure it out. By helping him (even if it's to drop him off at work today or tomorrow), you don't give him that chance. Do you want that? I hope not. I personally think he should walk to work for tomorrow. If he walks 3 mph, that should get him there in 10 hours, in time to start the work day. Then he can arrange a carpool with a co-worker for after that. That'll give him a ton of exercise and lots of time to think about what he's done in his life, and he'd have a clear destination (work). And who knows - maybe he won't even walk the whole way - he can always stick out his thumb, or maybe he'll see some people riding their bikes and ask them where they got theirs and pick up a bike. Give him a chance to be resourceful - he may surprise you.
posted by foxjacket at 12:57 PM on May 20, 2012

Thanks again, all. The family has decided to do what I initially thought was best and that was to let him stay but to actually give the dude some boundaries. Perhaps I phrased the question wrongly -- what I was really looking for was guidance in how to properly handle a situation in which a sibling has been coddled his entire life and has now been told he's screwed. This is not me making excuses but I do think that it would be unfair of all of us to sit back and say that we have not played a part in this. He is a typical spoiled rotten brat. We all let him sit for years with his feet next to a warm nice fire and now we're very clearly (and maybe I didn't phrase the whole thing so this was easily understood) throwing him into an icy lake.
I get he's a grown-up, make no mistake there. These decisions to fuck off are his and his alone. But frankly, I was quite the mess up when I was his age too but my parents slowly weaned both my sister and I. We were not rich growing up but they frequently picked us up gently because we hated adulthood and now, in our late 20s we've both productive good people. If my parents had suddenly kicked me out at his age...well, I can't imagine.

I think too that I painted him a light that made him look dangerous and he certainly is not. As I mentioned, he is not having a problem with drugs: He is tested frequently due to his line of employment. And he's close enough with me that he discloses any and all drug use because generally, I went through that party stage too and do not judge. He really is NOT AT ALL a danger to my child, myself, or any other family member. He's not violent and while yes, he did tell his girlfriend to fuck off last night and while yes, I do worry that that borders on verbally abusive, he is seriously not physically harmful though I do absolutely appreciate everyone's concern in that regard.

Anyway! All this to (longwindedly, sorry) say, I shared ALL the responses with my family. They especially like the "rent" idea -- he will pay $200 a week on the day he's paid and if not, then he is out. No questions, done. He will no longer have free use of my parent's vehicle unless headed to work. He and his girlfriend, if they chose to continue to stay in my parent's house, will seek counseling, which they've agreed to. Basically, in the future we're going to try much harder as a family to be a stepping stone to productive adulthood as opposed to just a stone to be stepped on.

Again, thanks all. I (and my family) appreciate it!
posted by youandiandaflame at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm a bit late to the party, but I want to point out that he's definitely not homeless just because he got thrown out.

1) Welfare (he'll probably need roommates)
2) Enroll in the military
3) Crash at friend's houses

Either of these courses will keep him alive while teaching him a harsh lesson. In fact, option 2 would be almost guaranteed to fix his attitude problem in record time.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:12 PM on May 20, 2012

youandiandaflame, in addition to the rent and behaviour boundaries your family is now drawing, it is probable that one of the best things you can do to help your bother is to help him learn about budgeting. It is very likely that he has no idea how much rent is, how mortgages and properrty tax work, how much insurance is, how much car payments are, what groceries cost, etc. Those realities form a compelling reason to stop flushing your 26k a year down the toilet.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:28 PM on May 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

DarlingBri: Hell yes! Part of the problem here is that he's under the impression that for normal adults this shit just falls into place. He's been given vehicles and while he has numerous times bought his own, if there was maintenance that needed done and he couldn't afford it, well. Mom and dad did it for him, no real questions asked other than a 5 minute lecture with no consequences.

To tell the truth, I am not the best in budgeting but perhaps it's not a bad idea if I don't prod him on in this area. While my mother can certainly take his checks, put out this and that for different things he needs to be saving for (car, house, etc.) that really does nothing in the way of establishing a foundation for when he does leave. Thanks for pointing that out...
posted by youandiandaflame at 1:34 PM on May 20, 2012

I haven't read every suggestion, but does anyone have a tent and a piece of land or campground he could set up on?

If you decide to take him in, does his employer have direct deposit? You could fill out the paperwork to have some of his check direct-deposited into either your account or your parent's (once you have a percentage saved up, you could let him move in. Charge him nominal rent and have him continue to save for a vehicle.)

You'd want to sit down with him and his girlfriend and come up with a budget/plan for the future. Ask him questions like "What am I missing here?" if the answer is "an alcohol budget" then you can have a different kind of conversation.

Ask him questions like "Do you think it's reasonable for a 22 year old to start learning how to be independent?" If he doesn't think it is, that's really good to know. (You don't have to try to get him to answer the 'right' way). If he thinks it is reasonable, ask him questions about what went wrong -- why doesn't he have the money saved. And repeat the question "Is that okay with you? Is it okay that you haven't saved the money? What makes it okay?" or "What's the problem with not having the money saved?"

You'd really be walking him through it. If he has a tantrum and gets huffy, it's time to ask him "Is there something I'm missing? Is this just uncomfortable because you're on the spot? Or are you struggling with something I don't know about? Because I'm not here to judge -- I'm just trying to problem solve. Are you depressed?"

And then you back it up. "Okay -- are you saying that you don't have a problem? Is it okay with you that you've angered mom so much that you've been kicked out of the house? Is it okay with you that you work hard but have nothing to show for it?"

If he can't identify a single problem -- then you're done. "Okay, according to you, you don't have a problem, so I don't think you need my help."

OR! If the "problem" is everybody else, you can say "Okay, so from your perspective, the problem is that mom and dad are unreasonable. Let me tell you something. Mom and Dad are not going to be less unreasonable. So let's say that your problem is 'you have parents that are unreasonable.' That's happened to a lot of people. There are a lot of shitty parents out there. So, really, your problem is 'your shitty parents are no longer going to support you.' Let's problem solve from there. Would you agree that you need a place to live?"

But the trick is, you can't be sarcastic. You have to sort of be committed to hearing what he has to say and redirecting it to the problem-over-which-he-has-some-control.

For the record -- I understand about not wanting him to be homeless. The deal is -- you do not extend yourself or your child beyond your own ability to recover from the damage that he does. In other words, if it doesn't hurt you or your child -- or you have the emotional reserves to repair the damage -- you can extend yourself. Maybe buying him a tent is not self-damaging. Maybe having him on the couch isn't self-damaging. Maybe you can handle one fight with him but not two. Get it? You keep your priorities on your and your child's health - and then extend away!
posted by vitabellosi at 2:29 PM on May 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

My issue with this really is that I have a problem with my parents totally coddling him and then just kicking him out.

He's been an adult for long enough. He should have seen this coming. This isn't pulling the rug out from under a child who is still developing, this is proving to a young adult in the working world that his actions have consequences.

By softening the impact of these consequences, you are basically just responsibility for the behavior which even you acknowledge is terrible.

Aren't you even the least bit curious to see what he will do, if left totally to his own devices?
posted by hermitosis at 6:30 PM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your folks are taking him back in, they are doing him a grave disservice. The boy deserves the opportunity to learn how to be a man.

My husband is from a culture in which the eldest child cares for the parents and any younger siblings. He does this exceptionally well. So well, in fact, that his younger brother has no idea how to be a responsible adult. Yes, bro is married and has a young child, but he would be lost without my husband.

His car? In our name. Car insurance? We pay it. Health insurance? Got it covered. No bank account? Sure, we will cash the check. Need a job? We'll hire you. A loan? No problem. Sounds great, right? Except I see this man/child on a regular basis. He knows he's a fuck up and I can see it hurts him to not be successful like his older brother. Sad part is that he doesn't know how to do life any differently because he's never had to.

Please don't do this to your brother. Sometimes it has to be a hard jolt to get a person kick started into adulthood. Yes, it is painful to watch your brother slam into the cold hard reality of responsibility, but it's even more painful watching someone coast by and never have the chance to be successful or feel pride in an accomplishment.

Let the boy live in a tent and get a ride from his friends. He needs to prove to himself that he can survive on his own.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:53 PM on May 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

My baby brother was charming. Never violent nor spoke a disagreeable word. He just didn't grow up. He married and had two kids but lost that family because he wouldn't settle down. He rode in rodeos all over the west, drove trucks when he had to and made a lot of friends (girlfriends). He always had a place to crash and someone to buy him a beer and feed him. They gladly gave him a place to stay and made him gorgeous western shirts to wear in the rodeos. When he couldn't get a beer or a meal, he went without. He drank and had a good time and saw a lot of the world. Meanwhile he completely lost any chance for a relationship with his son and daughter and he never got it back.

He got older and sadder and started coming to siblings for long visits, as long as we'd let him or as long as he could stay sober. Then, one day he went to his 25th high school reunion where he ran into an old high school sweetheart. She too had been married and divorced and had a child but, unlike my baby brother, she'd retired from a sterling career in the Marine Corps and now had an executive job in civilian life. She must have seen some potential because, before our very eyes, she married him, whipped him into shape and by the time he was barely fifty years old, he was a grown man! He knew how to do chores and live in a house and pay his way and take pride in things. Before long, he too had a well-paying, stable job, a house, a riding lawnmower and an acre of beautiful lawn and knew his way around a dishtowel and the washing machine, as well.

We all always loved my baby brother and I wonder if it was a little bit because it was hard to say no to him that he didn't grow up until he met someone who made him.
posted by Anitanola at 7:43 PM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

What is their plan if he doesn't respect the boundaries they've set and he's back in this exact same situation? What is your plan? If he's never been responsible for anything, there's a decent chance he just doesn't know how and will transgress the new boundaries. Your parents are really going to kick him out on the street then when they couldn't now? What is their time table for getting him out of the house? I'd give him six months, MAX.

Have a very serious talk with your brother about his plans to move out and if he doesn't have any, make some. He needs to set money aside for 1) a car 2) a security deposit 3) repairs for the shitty car he's going to buy (since he can't afford a decent one). This means NO spending money on whatever frivolous stuff he's been spending on. Also, why isn't his girlfriend contributing anything if she lives there?
posted by desjardins at 8:22 PM on May 20, 2012

”The ultimate result of shielding men from the results of folly is to fill the world with fools.“ Herbert Spencer - 1891

If you want to do him a REAL favor, let him experience the consequences of his actions. Anything else is just codependence.
posted by jcworth at 9:00 PM on May 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

Just echoing others that all you're teaching him with what you've done is that he got away with it again and he doesn't need to worry about his family ever following through on their threats. This one lasted, what, a few hours before you caved? I can say with absolute certainty (ok, 95%, maybe he has a magical conversion) that he is not going to stick to his side of the bargain. Why should he? Even if you give him some drama/an earful, he knows you'll be there to have his back.

You're doing this boy a grave, grave disservice. My father died at 62 unable to care for himself because he always had women (wives, girlfriends, his mother) to pick up the slack. The few times my gran cut him off cuz she was sick and tired of his antics, his life devolved into a complete nightmare. This was a man in his forties and fifties!

The longer you wait to cut him off and force him to make his own way, the worse it will get - both for him and for you. Seriously, YOU ARE NOT CURRENTLY DOING WHAT IS IN HIS BEST INTEREST, counter-intuitive though it may be. I cannot emphasise this enough.

Anyway, good luck to you, I really hope you have the strength to follow through when he invariably fucks up on this current deal. Do it for him, even if it's hard on you.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:56 AM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think the best way to move ahead from here is to get together with your parents and agree to present a united front. Then tell the brother and the girlfriend that because you all love them, they need to plan to be out of the house in six months. So, basically, on the first of November, they need to be ready to walk into their new house / apartment / roommate situation / trailer / tent. You all have to be 100% committed to holding firm on that date, though.

Tell them that you are all willing to support them by helping them to learn to budget, to help them accumulate household goods, etc. Then be consistently encouraging to underscore that you are all serious about this. Three months from now you can say "I saw this bed / whatever on Craigslist, do you guys have one for your apartment yet?" or "Hey, Haley just moved into those apartments on Whatever Street, have you guys thought about checking out the prices there?" or "I was just paying our bills for the month and I wondered if you wanted to go over the major ones with me so you'll have some idea of what insurance, gas, electric, cable and internet run every month."
posted by DarlingBri at 1:22 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have a very serious talk with your brother about his plans to move out and if he doesn't have any, make some. He needs to set money aside for 1) a car 2) a security deposit 3) repairs for the shitty car he's going to buy (since he can't afford a decent one). This means NO spending money on whatever frivolous stuff he's been spending on. Also, why isn't his girlfriend contributing anything if she lives there?

Desjardins: This is exactly what we've done. He's found a place and knows exactly how much he needs to move in. He sold his race car yesterday (he races in a shitty, poor man's class but the car was one of the few things he's bought and paid for himself) and that money will cover his first and last month's rent. This is something he normally would have thrown a giant baby fit over but in light of the fact that doing it meant he had a few more weeks with a roof over his head, he was eager to do it. Taught him how to use craigslist and an hour later, it was sold.
He basically has no money now, the same situation as before. My mother took the suggestion given here to have his checks direct-deposited into her account. He'll receive gas money and a weekly allowance to "get by" on. And for the record, his girlfriend is actually wonderful at contributing. In the three months she's been there she's graduated cosmetology school, gotten a good job, and just bought a vehicle. She buys groceries there as well.

And DarlingBri: Again, I love your take and thoughtful suggestions. EVERYONE'S insight was helpful but I wanted you to know that my mother and father particularly liked your responses.
posted by youandiandaflame at 4:37 AM on May 21, 2012

if there was maintenance that needed done and he couldn't afford it, well. Mom and dad did it for him, no real questions asked other than a 5 minute lecture with no consequences.

You didn't say it until the end of the thread, but I figured as much - your parents are soft on him. Your dad is probably the softest and your mum changes between being soft and dramatic. Your brother is frustrated by this lack of structure, his lack of firm male role model and by his own internal lack of discipline

I think it's kind of mean to raise someone with a lack of boundaries and then suddenly decide to give them tough love. You mention you worry about something similar.

Young people need to have a chance to do things for themselves. Maybe your brother just needs to learn he can look after himself - by everyone withdrawing a little of the lifesupport you think he needs and letting him stand on his own two feet. He's not going save for a car when he already has one to drive, for example. And he may not know how to budget and save.

Don't let your family sleep on the street and lose their job. That could start a really sad chain of events that lasts a lifetime. Be supportive but fair. Let him step up to the mark and make you proud, like all young men want.

You sound really practical - you must be a good mother to your own kid!
posted by inkypinky at 5:01 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Edit: Posted before I read the last few posts.
posted by inkypinky at 5:04 AM on May 21, 2012

youandiandaflame, I appreciate your kind words (and hi mom! hi dad!) but I need to point this out:

This is exactly what we've done. He's found a place and knows exactly how much he needs to move in.... My mother took the suggestion given here to have his checks direct-deposited into her account. He'll receive gas money and a weekly allowance to "get by" on.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do. His mommy needs to not be managing his pay checks for him. And with your current approach, he is gaining none of the skills you all seem to agree he'll need. How is he supposed to learn planning, budgeting and monetary restraint if someone is giving him gas money and an allowance? Yeah sure the odds are high that he'll fuck up and have to carry some really crappy consequences for a while, but he has a girlfriend, she has a job and the consequence is not realistically going to be homelessness when the six month deadline hits. Y'all are so busy protecting from falling down and getting booboos that you're not even giving him the 5% chance to prove up here.

He needs to pay your mother his own rent, or work out his own $200 a month direct debit. He needs to save money out of his pay check for his apartment. He needs to set aside his own grocery and gas money and car savings. And while I realise your brother is 22, the fact is that he appears to be a late bloomer and your parents are parenting him like a teen, so I am going to genuinely suggest you all read Positive Discipline for Teenagers. It will give you a roadmap for mostly avoiding the logical consequences your family is invested in avoiding while fostering cooperative solutions that foster independence.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:41 AM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]

DarlingBri: I wasn't clear (AGAIN, ugh!) but we took the suggestion of that said to add his rent to my mother's account via direct deposit and that is all. The rest of the check will come home to him and he's got to budget that out appropriately. In instituting a system of sorta checks though, that home accounting he's doing will be verified, if that makes sense. I.e., mom will check it weekly and if he's not saving, he's out. That was part of the deal though it may not be ideal.

And I know likely everyone has moved on from this AskMe but I did want to say that in thinking hard this morning about why I felt such internal pushback against all the responses that said to let the dude live in the streets or other's couches, I've come up with this and I think it bears mentioning. I work at a non-profit that runs a homeless shelter and a food pantry. I have literally been trained to NEVER let a stranger go without a place to sleep and beyond that, to work hard to find a suitable permanent home for those without in the long term. I do not take into account drug use or assholeishness or causes for homelessness (we farm those jobs out to therapists, doctors, and treatment centers who are better equipped to deal with those problems). I just find anyone and everyone who needs a home a home, if I can. We view anyone who isn't or can't rent their own place as homeless, regardless of whether or not they're staying with friends or family. Really, I think the reason I'm so hesitant to send him to a friend's couch or a tent is because I would never do that to a stranger (I'm paid not to do that for one and two, my heart is really in my work) and because this is someone I love I just can't turn him out. I know that I'm likely not helping and that as a family this might be the wrong decision but because of what I do and have devoted myself to for the last five years, I just cannot reconcile that in my head and heart. FWIW. And thanks again for all the help (in both this situation and in helping me realize what my reluctance here was all about to begin with).
posted by youandiandaflame at 6:26 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

How is your brother going to learn how to take care of himself as long as everyone helps him like this, though? Most people don't learn unless they're either (a) carefully taught and gradually gentled into doing things for themselves--this one works if the person is willing to learn, which doesn't seem to be the case here, or (b) he has to be forced to learn because nobody is taking care of him. The most competent people I've known tend to be ones who were thrown out at 16 or something like that.

He's not going to learn while he's having his hand held and his butt metaphorically wiped here. But clearly, that's your family's choice. Good luck in dealing with him. We're just pointing out that time is of the essence here and it's a lot harder to learn adulthood when he's 30 or 40 or 60.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:59 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

We view anyone who isn't or can't rent their own place as homeless, regardless of whether or not they're staying with friends or family.

I hope things work out for you and your family on this new plan.

You do realize that, by your own definition, your brother is still homeless, right?

I don't say that to be a jerk; I say it because I am still very concerned, from both the content and tone of your updates, that the massive positive changes that appear to have happened in the past just-under-24-hours are going to unravel over the course of the next few weeks.

In the interest of trying to keep things on track, does your brother have a plan and a date for moving into his own apartment? You said that the money from selling his race car is enough to pay for the first and last month's rent, but then you said in the next paragraph that he doesn't have any money, so I'm a little bit confused. I think it would be a good idea to (now) determine when he will have enough money to sign a lease, and set a target date at or shortly after that time by which he will do so. If he signs a lease and moves in by that date, then great - that's actual, significant, positive change! If "things come up" and that date comes and goes, well... that's what I'm afraid is likely enough to happen.

Anyway, since it sounds like that date could potentially be quite soon, I think discussing and setting it with him and paying close attention to progress toward it would be a good next step to try to keep things moving forward.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:04 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with Wolfster's suggestion that you see if you can get him to a psychiatrist/counselor of some sort. You can check on social services in your area to see if there is a way to have that happen without incurring further cost to you and your family.

I have had the experience of wishing someone's mom would do what your mom did (she didn't) and then slowly realizing there were real problems stopping the troubled person from "just growing up".
posted by freezer cake at 1:26 PM on May 21, 2012

because this is someone I love I just can't

Not trying to be harsh, but love shouldn't be used as an excuse to impose your version of order on another person --even if well meaning and overshadowed by your chosen profession. I'm speaking as someone with a 23-yr old brother who is also over-coddled, lives at home with the parents, has had ongoing issues with independence and responsibility, etc. etc. etc. I have also pulled the "but-this-is-also-my-job-so-that-means-I'm-200%-qualified-to-help-you" card... I know for myself, it's a passive-aggressive form of controlling. It's actually more selfish than selfless, contrary to how it feels. And it just doesn't work.

re: boundaries. I have a hard time reading where there is guaranteed privacy in your brother-parents' relationship, and conversely in your relationship with your brother. It sounds like everything gets reported to everyone... this is not healthy boundaries on everyone's part.

My family aspires to be like this (the over-reporters). Yet my relationships only got better when I started reinforcing what is my business with a given family member vs. what is NOT my business. My business with my siblings is not to reinforce childish identities on them (e.g. Spoiled Brat Syndrome, which I also used to dub on my brother), but to reinforce their successful, adult identities.

Also, your writing about your brother reeks of toxic resentment --like he's something to be purged or fixed, as if "the whole family would be better if only he..." I would say if you can't separate your role in his life as an adult (and see him with enough compassion to recognize that he's on his own learning curve) from the parental role you seem to be absorbing from your parents, then definitely stay out of it. If you cannot guarantee that you're not going to perpetuate the family dynamic that helped bring him to this point, then don't assume you can teach him anything better than he can learn by hitting his own bottom.
posted by human ecologist at 1:51 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I work at a non-profit that runs a homeless shelter and a food pantry. I have literally been trained to NEVER let a stranger go without a place to sleep and beyond that, to work hard to find a suitable permanent home for those without in the long term.

You're enabling him by catastrophizing. If he'd spent a night on someone's couch, he likely would have figured out quickly that he didn't want to keep going that way and would have figured out a solution. You assumed that your mom getting fed up meant he would have ended up in the worst possible situation--on the streets, with no job, with no money, with no support at all. And you chose that. It's not automatically what would have happened, but it's what your mind went to first.
posted by liketitanic at 10:39 AM on May 22, 2012

It's not automatically what would have happened, but it's what your mind went to first.

And your expectations of him are astonishingly low, to boot.
posted by liketitanic at 10:46 AM on May 22, 2012

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