Son supported for refusing to help parents with ‘very destructive’ brother
A family’s eldest son is being supported for refusing to help his ‘very destructive and angry’ brother after he moved out of the house.
The original poster (OP), u/South-Artist3160, shared his story on the popular Reddit forum r/AmITeA**hole. He received over 17,000 upvotes and 1,700 comments for his post.[Am I the A**hole] for telling my parents I’ll never help them again and now they’re on their own?”
The OP says when he was 6 his parents had his brother.
“From a young age my brother exhibited worrisome behavior and over the years it has only gotten worse. He is very destructive and angry and has been around since he was 4 The police have been called to our home many times to help get him under control. He was never officially diagnosed, but has been drugged a few times to try and calm him down,” wrote u/South-Artist3160.
He says his brother’s troubles put his life “on hold” during his childhood. He could not invite friends over, nor could he go to friends’ birthday parties until he was old enough to go there alone. His last birthday party with his family was for his 9th birthday, and he says he wasn’t allowed to party until he was 13 and old enough to do anything without adult supervision. But even then, he had to tell his friends not to get him any presents as his brother would only destroy them.
The OP also says that from age 12 he would take on the responsibility of looking after his brother while his parents would be given a break. He can’t visit his friends, he says, but is old enough to be left alone with his brother. When he turned 14, things got worse.
“My life has been hell,” he wrote. “It was 2 p.m. at night. A few times even overnight. I wasn’t prepared and our house was destroyed every time. And my parents expressed their disappointment with my handling of things.”
When he turned 16, the OP said he finally got a break when his brother was placed in an inpatient treatment program. Unfortunately, the program only lasted a month — “by far the best month of my life in years” — but when his brother returned, he was the same as before.
“It felt like my life was over,” wrote u/South-Artist3160.
As a young adult, the OP moved out and distanced himself from his parents. Though they try to keep in touch with him, he says he’s “bitter” about how his childhood went – and they know it. OP’s brother, now 13, is worse off and his parents have reached out to him for help, asking to babysit him for the night as they haven’t had a break from him in seven months.
“I told them no. They told me they needed my help. I told them I would never help them again and they were on their own,” u/South-Artist3160 wrote. “They told me I was unfair. They asked me how I could do this to them.”
Raising a child is difficult. While it makes sense to ask for help, when a person relies too much on one of their other children to help, this is known as “parenting.” Parenting can take a variety of forms, including denying the younger children the comfort while they are expected to be a free babysitter. A parental teenager is often expected to be a “team player,” even when asked to pay for things for their siblings that they have never experienced themselves.
Considering a child’s special needs can make it even more difficult, as children generally do not know how to care for those special needs. For example, while OP’s parents seem to think he should have had more control as the eldest child, they seem to have given him no resources to deal with his brother’s destruction and anger.
Parenting can often create resentment between the child and their actual parents. It can often even result in a parent cutting ties with their parents when they move out. Family trauma expert Kaytlyn Gillis, LCSW, BSCS spoke in news week about parenthood and the potential to mend relationships with one’s parents.
“Many people who have become parents struggle to know their boundaries because of years of having to play the parental role to one or more siblings. This role and the behaviors that come with it are becoming so second nature that many don’t even realize that these behaviors are unhealthy as they don’t have anything quite like them,” Gillis said.
“I remember a client saying to me, ‘I didn’t realize it was abnormal until someone told me!’ It takes work to learn what’s healthy in a relationship when you haven’t had good examples in your formative years,” she added.
dr Melissa Boudin, Psy.D agreed.
“Healing yourself after parenthood often requires one or a combination of the following: healthy peer relationships, supportive/healthy mentors/teachers with realistic expectations of you, and therapeutic support,” she said news week.
Boudin points out that having empathy for the parents is also important, especially in a case like this where parenting stems at least in part from hardship.
“A straightforward approach that shows empathy towards the caregiver, although this may be difficult to convey, can be effective. In these situations, parents often raise and are likely to be affected by a child out of necessity or for family survival,” Boudin said news week. “A conversation that allows the caregiver space to offer their perspective can be mutually productive and provide a greater sense of understanding and acceptance for the caregiver.”
Reddit sided with u/South-Artist3160 in the debate.
“[Not the A**hole]” wrote u/Aunty_Fascist in the top rated comment with 22,100 upvotes. “He’s not your responsibility and they need to have him properly diagnosed for services and maybe look into a group home situation for him.”
“This. They may have made good choices for him growing up – it sounds like they avoided making difficult choices (i.e. difficult for them) – but they made very, very bad choices for you.” Added u /wanderleywagon5678. “You don’t owe them anything, and if you helped them, you’d probably only make the problem worse. Perhaps, left to their own devices, they will seek an appropriate longer-term solution.”
“[Not the A**hole] Your parents did you and your brother a disservice. Why isn’t he in a home? In the end their handling of things will cost them all their children,” wrote u/hatetank91.
news week contacted u/South-Artist3160 for a comment. We have not been able to verify the details of this case.
If you have a similar family issue, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can ask experts for advice and your story could be featured there news week.
https://www.newsweek.com/son-backed-refusing-help-parents-very-destructive-brother-1752973 Son supported for refusing to help parents with ‘very destructive’ brother