I launched, my sibling didn't, and I think my parents need help.

Hi, I'm a new poster to these forums, and though I'm not a parent, I see many of you are, so maybe you have advice for me:

I'm in my mid 40's, married, homeowner, job/career, friends, good life. My 39-year-old sibling has lived at home with my father for 15+ years; currently unemployed (did 4 yrs military after high school, has had 2 different low-wage jobs, got a community college degree then lost interest in doing anything with it), doesn't volunteer or job hunt, spends most of their time on the internet/reading/watching TV, or keeping notes on the comings & goings of neighbors they don't like. When I suggested applying for a job at a local company I know they like, s/he claimed s/he wasn't going to pay into the "criminal government's" social security or taxes; earlier this year, I had a job event in a major city nearby, and while my parents attended, s/he refused to on the grounds the city was a "sanctuary city" and s/he wouldn't give it any money (despite the only money said city would get would be through a parking meter). My father indicated that he's talked to my sibling and "gotten nowhere", but yet depends on them to drive him to all his medical appointments; my mother makes excuses for how "sensitive" s/he is, but when I suggest possible employment options, shoots every one down. (Apparently my sibling's failure to launch has also been the subject of arguments between mother and stepdad. Stepdad is seriously physically ailing by the way, and mom is his primary caregiver.) My sibling was suspected ADD and/or dyslexic as a teenager, but I have no idea if anything was formally diagnosed; from all outside indications, they're perfectly capable of holding down a job and functioning.

All this I could hush up & walk away from, they're all grown-ups; however my dad's will leaves his assets in a trust in which we're both named, and when he passes, I will have to deal with a sibling with no job, no social skills, who thinks the government's out to get them, who might fight me about selling our parent's house (which neither of us siblings could afford the property taxes on). I want to see my sibling lead a life they care about, but my encouragement has fallen on deaf ears; my spouse & I are determined they aren't moving in with us no matter what, and... now what?

Do I just wait for the hammer to fall? Do I arrange a family intervention & kinda blow things up? Is there a resource I can direct my parents to? I just feel like I'm watching a really slow-motion car crash that's only going to get worse. Thanks for reading.


Well-Known Member
Hi there. Glad you posted.
in my opinion, if this was presented by you with accuracy, it seems unfortunately as though your parents are not as upset as you about your lazy sibling. And you sound like you are trying to force your sibling (or strongly suggest) he work when he is quite comfortable unemployed, not under pressure to grow up or get out, and you sadly have no control over him or your parents.it ca be frustrating.

I am sure you have spoken of the situation to all. But you can't make them care enough to take action. And nobody can force your sib to work. Nobody. Your parent can threaten to make him (I will call your sibling a him) leave if he stays unemployed and see if that works. They can cut off any money to him and I hope they don't infantilize him by paying for things like his cell phone and clothes, but you can't make them stop if they do.

I often ask parents on this forum who still house their 29 year olds if they really want a 39 year old still living at home....if not, make them leave now. But not all parents do. Some feel guilty even making a 39 year leave.

Some parents are 80 with 60 year olds at home and they still support them. See what I mean? I personally would not tolerate an able bodied 25 year old who didn't work to reside in my house, no matter how deep the love. And love of a child is so indescribably strong. I think that it is bad for them though when we allow this lack of production unless the grown kid is severely disabled. But I am not everyone and all parents are different.

Unfortunately, hon, this is 100 percent out of your hands. You can not control your parents or sibling. You can only control yourself. An.intervention only works if everyone is ready and willing to act on the consequences if the family member doesn't comply.

There is nothing you can do or should do about your parent's final wishes in my opinion. It is their hard earned money and what they want for it is what you must abide by. Even if it isn't smart and could cause grief.

I would not do what your parents did in their will regarding a child who never worked, but again...all parents are different. I would have put you in charge of the assets. I think that would make more sense. But....I am not your parents.

My suggestion is to stop concentrating on this situation and focus on your good life with hub and kids if there are kids and don't waste time on what you can't control. Your parents don't have to like the road your brother takes. If they are REALLY that upset with him, they can take action. But that still probably won't make sibling live the life they want him to. by the way, good for you for making something out of yourself!!!

Ok, so there is this...If our kids lived life our way, this forum wouldn't exist :) Move on and let the chaos belong to them. It really is out of your hands. There is no resource for your parents unless they want to change their behavior, then there is therapy. It may help them!

You can try a lawyer but doubt they can do anything. But, hey, you can talk to one.

Take care and enjoy your life, knowing you are a contributing member of society. Nowadays, that's a big deal. There are plenty who don't care. I am not your parent, but I think you are doing great.
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A dad

Active Member
There clearly capable of holding an job I mean they where in the army for 4 years, had 2 jobs after this then finished college so something happened to them in that period that brought your sibling where it is now. I doubt its failure to launch as much as being stopped mid air crashing and starting from scratch.

I do not know what to say you can not do an thing about your parents but you can about you as you do not have to do take care of your sibling and you should not.
Thank you (both) so much for replying :) I appreciate your calming words of wisdom "Somewhere"! It just helps to have been heard. I've slept on it, and yep, you're right, there isn't anything I can do, except live my life well, and hold my boundaries as needed. (I wish I could magically change their situation, but as I am the older Type-A sibling, that wish is more about me than any of them.) Om mani padme om.


Roll With It
I completely agree that there is nothing you can do about the situation with your sibling. My only suggestion would be to not offer to do anything that your sibling usually does. If he usually drives your parent to appointments, make that something you won't do. If they call you and say that sibling cannot drive one of your parents to an appointment, tell them that you are really sorry, but you cannot help. The only exception would be if your sibling is in the hospital or is taking your other parent to an appointment somewhere else at the same time, something legitimate like that. Not an excuse like he is tired or has a cold or some other such nonsense. If he is in the hospital, or they can show you something from a doctor saying he cannot drive, that is different.

I would also suggest that you work on detachment. There is a great article on detachment at the beginning of this forum, and there some books that are really helpful. Codependent No More is a classic for a reason. I also like Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. It even has a workbook that is wonderful. You can get any of these at most of the online bookstores and in many regular bookstores also. Libraries have them too.

It is hard when it is a sibling. I know, I have a difficult sibling also. My parents spent years telling me he didn't have problems no matter what kind of evidence was in their face. When he exploded his life, my mom was incredibly shocked and my dad was saddened and surprised it was that bad. Then they blamed me for not telling them he had a problem. It was a VERY difficult time.

If you have always been the one who was expected to pick up the pieces, to be responsible and take care of things, expect to be held responsible if and when it ever comes about that your sibling needs real help. It will be your fault for not helping your parents see that your sibling was in such trouble. Even if you sat them down the day or hour before and told them that he was going to implode his life, you will still get the blame when it happens. It isn't just my family, it is a pattern in families with this sort of issue.

You might find private therapy helpful. I needed some to help deal with my parents. I finally had to realize that I was broadcasting ALL the right signals about the reality of the situation. My family was unable to receive or understand any messages or information that my brother had serious problems. Even when they said that they understood that he had a problem, they would then say "but he is doing okay and doesn't need help for the problem because it isn't a real problem". Once I accepted that none of them were ever going to make sense (I had a SUPER hard time with this!! You HAVE to make sense!!!), things were a lot easier for me.

You also might find that NAMI is helpful. This is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They offer all sorts of resources and supports, both in person and online.

At some point, if it feels right, you might speak to your parents about the trust in their will. Ask how it is set up and if maybe it could be set up so that you and your sibling could have separate trusts. That might make your lives much easier. Only you know how that conversation would be received by your parents, and if it would be worth attempting.

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
First I want to congratulate you on launching successfully. What a special person you are to reach out trying to get some help/advice on how to deal with your brother that does not see the need to mature.

I can imagine how hard it must be for you to watch this, unfortunately there is not much you can do.

You mentioned that your dad has tried talking to him. I also understand from what you shared that your mom makes excuses for him. If I'm understanding this, your dad is more willing to want to see him progress along - get a job and move out, where your mom seams perfectly happy to continue enabling him.
I understand your concern about when your dad passes and how things will play out. I would suggest that you sit down with your dad and share your concerns. Your dad might be willing to make some changes. He should share these concerns with his lawyer who can direct him as to different options, perhaps a separate trust for your brother that would give him a monthly allowance.
Are you the executor? If so your brother would not be able to stop you from selling the house. He might be able to make it difficult but the final say is up to the executor.

I'm glad you and your husband agree that when the time comes that you will not be the default place for your brother to stay. Stand firm in your decision and don't back down no matter the pressure and guilt that may be put upon you. Your brother is not your responsibility.

Wishing you the very best!!