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Ask Amy: Brother is a freeloader

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • April 19, 2013 - 12:51 PM

Dear Amy: My husband’s brother has been living with us since he graduated from high school last year. He had a summer job working in construction. He got laid off at the end of August and hasn’t bothered to try to find another job. I come home from work, and the house is a disaster!

He’ll pick up after himself after I say something, but I don’t feel I should have to tell an adult to do so. He does the bare minimum and lately does absolutely nothing because I’ve gotten tired of asking him. I hope he’ll just see how upset I am for having to clean up after him (but he doesn’t).

My husband agrees with me but does nothing to help change the situation. I’ve told my husband to take him to places to apply for a job. I’ve offered to take him, but he refuses.

I love my brother-in-law and would rather not have to ask him to find somewhere else to go, but I feel I might have no choice. He does not respect us or our home. He’s mooching off us, and we’re just letting it happen. Amy, please help!

Amy says: I actually feel a little bit sorry for this young man. He is completely without direction, and the two adults in his life are basically leaving him to his own devices. And look — he has no devices.

You sound like very nice and generous people, but every time you passively seethe, you miss an opportunity to force this young person closer to adulthood.

You and your husband should work together to launch him. You should write down a list of household chores he must perform each day. Sit down with him (together) to give him reasonable goals and expectations. Let him know that you will help him with ideas, transportation, etc., for a job search, and set a reasonable length of time to find something.

With the economy picking up, builders are looking for workers. If he isn’t willing to even look for a job, you should send him to the military recruiter’s office. The military offers job training and direction for young people, as well as an opportunity to serve the country.

Wrong word, Amy

Dear Amy: Your recent answer to the mother about her sister’s lack of interest in the mom’s 6-year-olds described the boys’ aunt as “selfish and disinterested.”

While uninterested and disinterested are often used interchangeably, disinterested describes the state of mind that a judge should adopt when trying to reach a resolution; i.e. balance.

Uninterested signifies lack of interest, not giving a hoot, or, as in the case of the aunt, not wanting to be involved with her nephews at a certain level.

Amy says: Several readers corrected me about this word use. Thank you, all.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

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