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How Do I Get My Parents to Stop Bankrolling Their Adult Son?

  • June 10, 2021

For 15 years, my parents have paid for my adult brother to live in an upscale apartment in the expensive city where he went to college. He doesn’t work. He barely graduated from college, lost touch with his friends, then flunked out of graduate school. My parents were mortified, and I encouraged him to find work. But he never did. Now my parents are resigned to supporting him indefinitely. With the pandemic ebbing, I keep trying to convince them that they should push my brother to apply for jobs and engage with the world. But when my brother refuses, my parents are cowed by him. So, they continue to support him, giving him nice hand-me-down cars and taking him to fancy dinners. This is madness! What more can I do?


If you’d expressed concern for your brother’s emotional well-being or the roots of his seeming paralysis as an adult, it would be easier to sympathize with you. (He may be depressed, not a grifter.) But your question reads like a jealous tale of middle-age sibling rivalry: Mommy and Daddy give him too much!

And even if you’re right — your brother is a mooch, and your parents enable his laziness — it doesn’t matter. Your family doesn’t take orders from you! You’ve expressed your opinion repeatedly, it seems, but your parents and brother are free to act as they choose. (To me, his issues seem more complex than the cost of an “upscale apartment” or the “fancy dinners” you focus on. I hope he seeks professional help.)

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