Addressing Challenges in My Brother's Transition to Adulthood

PlainJane

Moderator
I don't believe my brother is a malicious person, but I am shocked at his behavior and attitude since turning 18. I expected some issues, but ultimately, I figured we'd handle them as we go. I tried to instill a good work ethic, and he's had a good job for a couple of years to get him some work and money management experience. I want him to get started off on the right foot. Really, the only requirement I made was to have a part-time job while in school, and if not in school, a full-time time; basically, be a responsible adult. Also, to contribute to the household via chores. I am not asking for rent simply because I know he doesn't have the money, and I want him to save up so he has a cushion when he's on his own. He is saving up for a car and then needs to take care of all of that goes with it and factor in a few other of his personal expenses.

He very quickly quit his job. He spends his money frivolously without an income. He spends all his free time gaming. I don't care if he games and whatever; I didn't understand why he was deliberately making these poor decisions. He has been increasingly difficult to reason with. So, a few weeks ago I told him he needed to find a place sooner rather than later. He had made no effort to apply for anything and look for housing. We were having a conversation last night about it and why he hasn't pursued it because I am done having to pay for the consequences of his actions. He let it slip that he had no intention of doing anything because I can't tell him what to do and that I am required to take care of him (as if I wasn't letting him have access to everything he has always had) because he is still in school and that I cannot force him out.

When talking to a close friend about the situation, he told me that when my brother was at his house, my brother tried to convince him to take his dog because he was afraid I was going to kill the dog!? ( I have always been an animal person and people often look for me to care for their animals or advice, etc., so a baseless accusation to a person who knows very well my relationship to ALL animals)

The point of this thread is not to trash my kid, but it's relevant information, and I need your help to pick this apart. I am too close to the situation, and my friends are great but very quick to take up for me. I need help teasing out possible behaviors on my part that have caused him to act out like this. So, I am going to put out what I think might contribute. I can't figure out what he is looking for besides the obvious independence, but he can accomplish that without slander.

I have always had few expectations. However, I am exacting. They are very attainable and not unreasonable. Like good grades (Seriously, just, work ethic, and honesty. BUT I have been described as strict
I am consistent and follow through with promises and consequences.
I have never been violent, even when symptomatic
I do get irritated quickly and really hate repeating myself, so I have raised my voice more than I would like to admit. This makes me less approachable to him, I think.
I was spread thin when I was caring for my grandparents. Maybe he was left alone too often/not enough attention?
I have a pretty even affect, and I think I appear aloof at times.
I used to drink at night, after he went to bed, to alleviate nightmares. That doesn't mean he didn't notice and perhaps was concerned about it. I have also been honest and forthcoming about it. I still drink, but it's moderate and not to the point of being drunk. I have been drunk around him, but again, never violent, just goofy. I am not sure if this contributes to his attitude.
I have done shitty and stupid things. I have also been quick to apologize, stating that is simply to help paint a picture of our relationship. I have never pressured him to forgive me, and I don't look for that, but I think it's important to see your parent admit that they're wrong.
What else do you guys need to know about how I behave?

I KNOW there are things that he can complain about, and I have left the door open, telling him that when he is ready and feels he needs to confront me about anything, I will sit down, shut up, and hear all of it. I don't care if our pictures of the event do not match. His perspective is his reality. I accept all that comes with it.

He has always been the kid that needs to piss on the electric fence, so to speak, to learn. I am concerned for his future, and I want the best for him. I want to support him in his goals, but I can't do that if he won't let me. If I can change something or figure out how my actions affect his thought process, maybe he will be more inclined to take an easier road. But I need help figuring out what it is I need to adjust.

Let me know what think
 
I can't do that if he won't let me.
i like the serenity prayer for helping me determine when i am being helpful and when i am just getting in the way. this conundrum fits into line one. "please grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change." how you receive this wise tidbit i am typing out for you is out of my control. i offer and it is quite alright if you decide to leave it. i have neither the will nor the desire to force this wisdom upon you, nor will i think less of you if you decide to leave it in my capable hands. well? ? ? some days my hands are more capable than others, but? ? ? different thread. . .
But I need help figuring out what it is I need to adjust.
i believe we all need help figuring out what needs adjusting. an attentive sounding board and/or sharing of experience can help mightily. i keep getting lost when i wander my own head alone. travelling companions help me stay oriented. steadying support while you decide how best to help your brother lose his awkward teenaged moves.
 
It sounds really difficult.

I'm not a parent so obviously ignore this if not helpful:
Have you asked what he wants from you?
He might say to leave him alone, let him play games etc which obviously won't be in hisbbest interests.. but it *might* open up a discussion about why you want him to achieve and the care you have for him? Which might lead him to understand even if he doesn't change his behaviour?

Ultimately, he is now an adult. And you are in the difficult role of being a sibling but being the care giver. Challenging.
 
I need help teasing out possible behaviors on my part that have caused him to act out like this.

I think you're taking far too much responsibility for his behavior. He is his own person. And you are correct, you cannot help a person who doesn't want help. As he is a legal adult, it might be time to drop the reins while letting him know you're still there if he needs you. Sometimes people need to make their own mistakes - that's how we learn, after all.
 
Hello @PlainJane 👋.

Unfortunately people can legally be an adult without certain experience, knowledge or the right skills to survive/thrive...I certainly was.

Is it possible your brother is just going through a phase. Trying to catch up with himself after the period of school and work?

What does your brother have in his life aside from you? Friends? Role models etc? What are his passions or hobbies that he can use as goals so he can look forward to whilst working/gaining new employment etc?

When I quit/finished my degree (which I completely f*cked up) I was completely lost. My support network was basically non existent and had really bad role-models. I also felt burnt out mentally and physically.

What was your brothers job? What did he like at school?
 
Have you asked what he wants from you?

Yes, I have. The conversations are oddly good, but the actions do not match. He is going to do what he is going to.

As he is a legal adult, it might be time to drop the reins while letting him know you're still there if he needs you.
"please grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change."

I get this, and you're right. It just sucks.

Is it possible your brother is just going through a phase. Trying to catch up with himself after the period of school and work?

What does your brother have in his life aside from you? Friends? Role models etc? What are his passions or hobbies that he can use as goals so he can look forward to whilst working/gaining new employment etc?

Of course, it is entirely possible. He seems to have a pretty decent network, he doesn't cause trouble in school. He is, overall, a good kid. He knows what he like and sticks to his guns. I wish I was a sure as he is. Sometimes, I worry about his association, because they tend to be on the dishonest side and I have seen him be at the butt end of a relationship and hurt. I told him my concerns (beginning of last year) and left him to it, I do not harp on it.

I am hoping it's resentment from having to listen to me and the whole "you're not my mom" thing. I guess my concern is with the level we have gotten to that this may be more than teenage angst and that I have been terrible to him. I can be whatever he needs to work through what he is working through, however without knowing how I am influencing his behavior I might make it worse. It's an odd balance to figure out between leaving hm to his own devices and trying to guide him. I want to be the type of person he can come to when he is ready and take accountability for my f*ck ups. I was just hoping I could help myself be more aware of it now.
 
Yeah I understand. I'm kinda leaning towards @somerandomguy 's answer. Leave him to it for the time being. And something just popped into my head...

A girl I went to school with who was really intelligent and did really well at school didn't go off to college/University like everyone else. I found out alot later in life she just finished school and decided to start managing a pub! She went on to managerial roles in many different jobs in her life successfully.

Sometimes you got just let people find their own place in life. Doesn't mean yo gotta stop caring about them or being concerned about their welfare.

Do you want him to move out because of your own personal reasons soon? I find it hard to believe you've f*cked up or been bad to him. Taking the focus off your brother for a minute... how are you personally? What would you like in your life at the present? Isn't that also important?
 
Yeah, I'm sure since everyone's answers are along the same lines, you all are right. It's hard not having action items and just leaving it be.

I do want him to move out, peacefully of course and without putting him in a hard spot. I am not sure where I am going from here, I have medical bills, and thousands of dollars more to come. So, my intention is to simplify further and work at getting all that I owe out of the way. I am mostly tired and want a period of peace. That's all.
 
Yes, I have. The conversations are oddly good, but the actions do not match. He is going to do what he is going to.
Sounds like you've done all you can to show him better choices and how to take personal responsibility. It's so hard when people we love make decisions we can see send them down certain paths. It's very hard to let go and accept.

It's great the conversations are good. I'm not surprised it doesn't result in him changing his behaviour. But it shows you two have a relationship that lasts challenges. And he knows you're there for him. Am sure he appreciates it. His ability to express that might come as he continues to mature.
 
At that age my kid did the whole “….but do you REALLY love me? I mean, like, really. Even if I do THIS? How about THAT? But WHAT IF???…”

I don’t think it was conscious, although it was reeeeally obvious from the outside that we had entered “This is a TEST of the emergency broadcast network. This is only a TEST. If this were really an emergency I’d be being sneaky as hell about it, instead of in your face.”

Given his background? It. Made. Total. Sense.

Because, right before Covid, he was looking at finishing school and leaving in the next year. BIG changes. Lots of scary. And, if/when that happened (should be maybe stop it from happening?!?) what was going to be his place/role/position? Was he a burden? Was he welcome? What did I/others reeeeeally think of him, feel about him, and where were the limits, now that he was legal & we were no longer “required” to do ABC for him, or think/feel XYZ about him?

Granted… in our lives Covid happened… so the BIG transition was put on hold, so I cannot speak to managing that part of it.

But the “oh shit! WHAT IF?!?” phase? The biggest help came out of left field, because I was looking at houses/apartments to be renting the next year (just getting kind of a feel for the market in the area I wanted)… and he asked why I was looking for 2 bedrooms?

“Because no matter where I’m living you’ll always have a room.”

I didn’t even think about what I was saying, but it knocked him back on his heels / big reaction, so we talked about it. My feeling is/was I didn’t effing care if he only used it once every other year, or came to visit every school break, or lived with me full time. Wherever I’m living, he has a place with me. To come and go as he pleases.

Was that the ONLY thing driving the senior-itis “Let’s f*ck up! With style!” And push boundaries, and make emotionally driven decisions, and make everyone worry about us, and, and, and,? Or was it his only piece with me?

Pfft. Of course not.

But it was a piece his friends were not dealing with, so it wasn’t smoothed out the way things are when all your friends are also right there with you, going through the same stuff. And it was one of the few issues he has with me, that got immediate traction.
 
Given his background? It. Made. Total. Sense.

But the “oh shit! WHAT IF?!?” phase? The biggest help came out of left field, because I was looking at houses/apartments to be renting the next year (just getting kind of a feel for the market in the area I wanted)… and he asked why I was looking for 2 bedrooms?

“Because no matter where I’m living you’ll always have a room.”

I didn’t even think about what I was saying, but it knocked him back on his heels / big reaction, so we talked about it. My feeling is/was I didn’t effing care if he only used it once every other year, or came to visit every school break, or lived with me full time. Wherever I’m living, he has a place with me. To come and go as he pleases.

That makes sense, and maybe my kiddo just doesn't believe me yet. I don't know if it's true that he is testing me in that way, but I sure like the sound of that one better than where I was going with it. It seems less deleterious for himself. Also, I feel like I can act on that one in a pretty healthy fashion for both of us.
 
How's the situation going @PlainJane ?

I think that age is really difficult for anyone in a parenting-type role, because the young person *needs* to individuate to develop and "leave the nest". So they'll grow their emotional muscle by pushing back against the people in the parenting-role.

I didn't have any healthy parenting patterns in my own childhood to guide me, so sometimes when I need good examples, I look to the animal world, for example how a cat or dog mum will raise their litter. By the time their little ones are big enough to start "leaving the nest" they're pretty boisterous, testing out their strength, and being a total pain in the arse. Cat mum or dog mum usually have this look of strained, annoyed patience while the kids muck around. She'll also start letting them know what the boundaries of her patience are and emotional distance will start being created between mum and the kids, as the kids start finding mum annoying and mum finds the kids annoying.

I wonder whether you can get some kind of neutral person like a counsellor or a social worker to be someone your brother talks to once or twice a month about "his future" and what steps he's taking towards taking responsibility and becoming independent?

I think at that age, it can be helpful if someone "neutral" looks at those topics with you and challenges and pushes you in a healthy way, without all the emotional undertones of a cat/ dog mum who's in the push-pull of caring and yet booting out her beloved-and-annoying young ones out of the nest...?
 
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