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Cathy, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1436
Experience:  Ms, MS.Ed., thirty years clinical practice
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I have a younger brother (single and aged 40) who has been

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I have a younger brother (single and aged 40) who has been causing a lot of problems to our family most of his life but even more recently.

He was a spoilt, self-centred child and he has grown up into a self-centred, selfish adult with a terrible temper.

Our mother died of cancer just a year ago. We have all been terribly affected by this as we are a close family and loved her very much.

The first big rift with him started about 3 years ago, when he started a relationship with what the family considered an unsuitable woman (she was married to somebody else, though claimed to be estranged from her husband, even though she still lived under the same roof with him and was financially supported by him, although they had no kids).
This caused a great deal of distress to us all, particularly to my mother. The situation was unresolved even up to my mother's death (and is still unresolved although he claims that the relationship is now just a friendship, not a romantic one).

So, over the past 2-3 years, he has been behaving very badly to the family. He has often had screaming fits at us, telling us he has different standards to us, different principles and different morals (we wouldn't argue with that). I think he cannot accept that we will not renounce our own principles and embrace his lifestyle – but we won't, although the only one who has it out with him is my Dad. My sister often tries to reason with him but he just ends up getting nastier and nastier, saying a lot of untrue and hurtful things, in a very bullying way. I am too scared of him to do that (my husband also has a bullying nature and I can't stand up to him very well either)

Quite often, when my sister and I have visited my parent's house, he has found some reason to have a temper tantrum and storm out of the house, sometimes for something as trivial as being reprimanded for being an hour late to lunch or something, even though he was told what time to turn up for lunch (in fact, he is never on time for anything. He has no manners towards the family whatsoever).

This past year, he has been seeing a bereavement counsellor and if anything, his behaviour towards us is even worse as he leaves his appointments on a real downer and then starts accusing the family of dictating to him how he leads his life and how none of us are interested in his life or what he does (actually, he only talks about himself; he never enquires about any of us or our lives and has no interest in us).

He is close to my Dad though, who has tolerated his bad behaviour for years, but gets wound up by it and is incapable of dealing with it.

My sister has come to the end of her patience. She is suffering a great deal from losing our Mum. My brother is particularly nasty to her, even though she is the first to phone him when he is in trouble and has lent him money several times to pay his mortgage on the several occasions he has lost his job through redundancy.

I tend to be the one who is the intermediary, hearing about his latest problems and behaviour but it's wearing me down too. My brother has accused my sister and I of trying to break up the family and alienating him. I don't think we are; he seems to be doing it all on his own.

Hi JA customer and thanks for writing.


First off, my condolences to you on the loss of your mother. I know how profound a loss this is.


Secondly, I am so sorry to hear your story. That said, I think you fairly well know what I am going to say about your current family dynamics and I am sorry that it will not be a comforting statement to hear.


Your brother is an adult and as such you have no control over his bad behavior. There is not a thing you can do to change him and any efforts you make that do not include a professional in the mix are quite likely to fail. While in your post you never formulate a question for us, I think you are asking what you can do to change him? and the response is that there is not a thing you can do to change him or his behaviors.

I know how very disappointed you are going to be with my response but it is the expert response and it is based on thirty years of seeing many families in the same situation you find yourself.


The only thing that you can do is to change the way that you respond to your brother. You say that you have tried ignoring him and not getting involved in the drama he creates and this is actually what I recommend. You do not say why this has not worked for you. I believe that your instinct is on target on this and it is what you need to do. If it has not worked thus far for you, consider getting into therapy yourself so you have someone in your life who is caring and compassionate and supports you in this setting of boundaries. What you are attempting to do is sanity preserving and life saving and I do think you are on the right track, but it is also something that is quite difficult to do and would be easier to address and accomplish with the support of a therapist.
Let me know if you have more questions on this or more information to provide?

Since you did not actually formulate a question for us, let me know if there is more we can do for you from here?

All my best and very warm regards,


Cathy and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I accept what you say about ignoring my brother's behaviours. My sister blames me for that and says I distance myself from the problem. Should I try to convince her that ignoring his behaviour is the best approach, rather than getting involved and trying to repair something that just can't/won't be repaired?

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