Ask Kari: How can I stop my parents from continuing to loan my brother money?

Dear Kari,

My parents recently lent my brother much of their savings due to his current financial challenges. He has a history of not paying his bills and living way past his means, always blaming someone else for his problems. He has never paid them back for any of his previous loans and I can’t contain my anger at how my brother keeps abusing my parents and their money. What should I say to him to make this situation stop?

--Furious Sis in Seattle

Dear Furious Sis in Seattle,

Although it can be hard to watch the people we care about make poor choices, your parents have determined by their actions that they are okay with lending your brother money, even if it is a burden on their financial future. In social work we call it self-determination, which we are all entitled to. The challenge with self-determination is that sometimes people who care about us see us traveling down a self-determining path that is not good for us long before we see it for ourselves. This appears to be the stage your parents are at. I suggest that you state your feelings about the situation to your parents from a point of love and concern for them and their financial future, and then leave it at that. If they choose to continue to loan your brother money in the future, it is their choice and they are the ones who have to live with the consequences of that choice.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and the owner and Clinical Director of Issaquah Highlands Counseling Group (IHCG), which is now Kari O’Neill Counseling.

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