Dear Amy: When my elderly parents were living in an assisted-living facility, my older sister and brother lived nearby. My parents had accumulated a sizable nest egg that enabled them to live comfortably in retirement, with the likelihood that there would be a reasonable sum left after they died.
After my father developed Alzheimer’s disease, my brother assumed control of their finances. After our father’s death, my sister took on the role.
To her horror, she discovered that my brother had taken large sums of money from our mother’s accounts for his personal use, including the purchase of a new car.
She confronted him, and he admitted to the theft, saying that he needed the money to try to repair his money problems. He begged her not to tell his wife.
He repaid a small portion, but said he couldn’t repay the rest. My mother was disappointed and angry, but seems to have forgiven him.
This news shook me to my core. I looked up to my older brother. I knew he wasn’t perfect, but I always felt he had integrity. It has been six months since I learned his secret. Although we have communicated several times, I have not brought it up.
I am hurt, angry and disillusioned, but at the same time I still love my brother. How do I move on?
Amy says: Let me point out the obvious: Stealing money to purchase a new car is not “repairing money problems,” but creating them.
One way to move on is to be open about it now. Why are you protecting your brother from a natural consequence of his crime (i.e. your disappointment)? Is knowledge of his actions so dangerous to your own belief system that you must continue to stuff it down? I hope not.
The path toward forgiveness runs right through the heart of his fallibility.
You should have a family meeting (with your mother, and with or without your brother). Now that everyone knows about this theft, you should handle it as a family. If you don’t want to pursue this legally, one obvious solution would be to deduct the amount your brother stole (plus interest) from any inheritance. If his share of the inheritance doesn’t cover the amount he stole, he should pay the balance to his siblings.
If he assumes responsibility, makes amends and asks for forgiveness, he should receive it. So far, he does not seem to have done his part.
Dog on cleanup duty
Dear Amy: My daughter is a stay-at-home mother with an 8-month-old child.
She is a great mother and I am very proud of her.
She and her husband allow their very large dog to “clean up” the high chair or walker after the baby has eaten, by licking it “clean.”
They think it’s cute. I think it is disgusting. They do not otherwise clean the items for the next use.
I voiced my surprise and dismay the first time I witnessed this, and just sprayed the items with cleaner after the dog was done. I have not said anything else about it.
Should I just continue to clean up the area after the dog is done, or should I say something else?
Amy says: If this baby is sharing its home with a dog, they have probably been licking each other on the face for several months.
I don’t think you should worry, but you will, so you could ask your daughter, “Honey, do you mind if I give this a wipe-down?” Otherwise, keep your opinion to yourself.
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