My older brother and his wife have three sons and two daughters…. My brother constantly asks his children for money, even though he is not destitute, for he has two houses that he owns and rents out while he lives in the house that our mother left when she died….

The second-oldest son has gotten into legal problems for driving while intoxicated as well as for other crimes, such as selling guns and drugs so that he can send money to my brother and enable him to buy luxuries, such as a minivan.

Now that son is in jail, and his siblings don’t want their parents to know. One of the daughters has even sent money to their parents as if from that son so that they won’t find out. I think that my brother should know about his son being in jail, and at the same time I feel guilty for not having been more of a counselor to him.

Dear Friend,

Some things are obvious, such as that you should never lie to your brother about the situation. If your brother were to directly ask you about his son, you would have to tell the truth. The Apostle Paul taught that lying is wrong, (1) and wise Solomon gave us many warnings about the consequences of lying.(2) Most all of us have been caught in a lie at some time in our lives, and we know from experience that lies usually entangle a situation so much that it becomes very difficult to straighten it out. Unfortunately, however, knowing how dangerous lying is does not stop most people from taking the risk.

Your last sentence is very interesting concerning the guilt that you feel. But the truth is that both your brother and his incarcerated son are grown men, and they will not listen to your counsel unless they have asked for it. Nor is it likely that your brother’s children will take your advice regarding whether to tell their father about the incarceration. Those grown children are handling the situation badly, since the truth is always better in the long run. But it is not your place to insert yourself into the situation or to interfere with their family.

Unless your brother is deceiving his children in some way, it is their decision whether to provide money for him. It is their money and, if they choose to do so, they can throw it in a river!

You believe that your nephew was selling guns and drugs so that he could provide money for your brother? No. His crimes have nothing to do with your brother’s pleas for money. It is more likely that he gives your brother money as a kind of guilt payment to make himself feel better about his bad choices.

Your brother’s family needs your help, but it is not the kind of help that you have thought of giving. What they need for you to do is to pray privately for them and ask God to intervene in their lives. And keep your opinions to yourself.

We wish you well,

1 Eph 4:25
2 Pr 6:16-19; 19:9