I brought my mother, my brother, and a nephew to live with me on the condition that my brother and nephew would get a job. They were not to pay rent for awhile, but they were to be productive. My nephew goes to school…, but we discovered that… he had friends who were a bad influence on him, and most recently we saw him taking drugs. I made the decision to get him out of the house, because I knew it was not the first time he had done it… My brother must also leave, because he doesn’t work and doesn’t want to do anything.

Am I wrong to do this? What should I do in this family situation?

Dear Friend,

Your situation can be found in families in every community within every city in every country around the world. Families are made up of people who love each other, and there is an infinite number of ways that individuals can find to test that love relationship.

Most parents teach their children to care for and protect their siblings. Many children grow up knowing that their siblings are the ones who can understand them the best because they have lived a shared existence. When there are addiction or abuse issues with parents, siblings can form an even stronger bond because they have to work together to survive.

However, when siblings grow up and become adults, the rules of conduct are different. Siblings are not responsible to care for each other when all are able‑bodied and have an intellectual capacity that is within the normal range. While it is kind and loving to lend a helping hand to a sibling in need, it is not an obligation. In fact, when siblings help each other too much, it can lead to unhealthy dependency and can foster irresponsible behavior.

You have kindly reached out a helping hand to your brother and nephew. And you set up wise guidelines for your continued involvement in helping them. But neither of them has done their part, so it is time to send them on their way with no guilt or regrets. You did your part and more.

Your brother will likely try and make you feel guilty for making him leave. Your mother may agree with him or put pressure on you to change your mind. And the three of them might even gang up on you. However, you should keep in mind that even though you may be in the minority, it doesn’t mean that they are right.

Wise Solomon used the analogy of an ant (1) to describe how diligently we should work to provide for ourselves and prepare for the future. Your brother and nephew need to heed his advice. By being put out of your house, they may be forced (eventually) into becoming more responsible.

We commend you for your loving heart and kind actions. Remember that forcing your brother and nephew to become more responsible is also a loving and kind act.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles
1 Pr 6:6‑11