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My Mother Defends my Brother's Drug/Alcohol Addictions and Awful Behaviors.

by Greg
(Montrose, CO)

My brother and I used to get high and drink regularly. We both were arrested for DUI within a month of each other. I realized I was on a path of bad examples for my two young children. My brother thinks that his DUI was a fluke. I have not had a drink since the DUI and have stopped getting high as well.

When I discovered my brother was still drinking & driving AND selling large amounts of drugs, I cut him off from me and my family. I have since found out that he was molested by a family priest 29 years ago when he was 7 or 8. He started drinking when he was 9 and doing drugs at 12.

I was the person who had to tell my mother that he was molested almost 30 years ago. He recently emailed mean and hurtful comments to my sick wife and brought my mom into the situation by trying to place blame on us for the help she provides. We love my Mom.

Mom, however, refuses to take a stand against my brother's addition. Within the last year he has been divorced, lost his children and lost his job. When he is mean to my family and I try to discuss it with my mother, she tells me "what can I do he is a grown adult", "I refuse to pick sides in this situation" and "I don't want to get involved, don't mention your brother's name to me and I won't mention it to you."

I have accepted that I can't do anything for my brother until he wants the help. But now I find myself angry and sad with my mother that she will not take a stand against his inappropriate behavior, and refuses to talk about it.

Do I need to now take a similar stand with my mother and leave her behind until she decides she/he needs help? Just being in the same room with her, with this situation happening, and having to basically ignore it is unbearable for my wife and I.

Thank You,
--Greg Answer

Hi Greg

Why punish your mother for something she has no control over, i.e. your brother's choices? Yes, ideally she should take a stand against his alcohol and drug addiction, but if she's not yet ready to do that, why hold that against her?

Because even if she did, there is no guarantee it would make any difference. Like you rightly said, no one can help your brother unless he wants to help himself, so irrespective of what your mother says or does - until your brother is ready to get help and turn his life around, nothing is likely to change.

So don't let your brother's behavior come between you and your mother. What if she died tomorrow? You'd probably regret the rift in your relationship with her over something neither of you have any control over. That's why her suggestion that neither of you should talk about your brother when you see each other is probably not a bad one, if all it does is create resentment. Try and focus on your relationship with her and let her choose how to handle your brother.

In an ideal world, the whole family would take a united stand against your brother, so as to not further enable his behavior. But if they don't want to, you can't make them. And if you feel that means you want to sever your relationship with them, you of course are fully entitled to do so.

It really is a decision you have to make, so do what you feel is best for you and your family (wife & kids). We all have to be true to ourselves first and foremost because its our own lives and integrity at stake. You've handled the situation with your brother in the right way, but it becomes a bit more complex with your Mom. That's why you've got to do what is right for you.

Good Luck with your decision.

P.S. If you do decide to sever ties with your Mom for now, just be clear and specific on why, so that she knows exactly where you're coming from. You don't want her left in the dark.

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