Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I have a deadbeat brother. He is 56 and has not held a job longer than
a year for as long as I can remember. He’s a gay man, with which I
have no problem, except that his entire life plan seems to be “finding a
rich, sugar daddy” to take care of him. Personally, as much as I love
my brother, a neurotic, poor, aging, and needy person is even more
unlikely to attract such an escape route than someone half his age,
never mind all the emotional unhealthiness of the plan at all. I just
want him to find a small simple job with regular hours, a regular
paycheck, and maybe even health and dental insurance. I’d like to
help him with the baby steps, but I don’t know how to begin. It’s all I
can do to put up with his whiney ramblings about life being too hard
and unfair. And at the risk of sounding callous, my husband and I have
worked hard for our own small savings, and I can’t risk my own
family’s future to be his ultimate life support, when he hasn’t done
anything to make things better.
Every family I know of has at least one sib who is below the norm in
achievement and security. Each other sib has to face his/her
responsibility for helping out in times of crisis, and, like in your case,
helping avert those crises from occurring. If, in fact, your brother is
absolutely unwilling to act on his own behalf, you may someday have
to face the problem of taking him in or turning him away. But between
now and then there’s lots you can do.
Identify all social services in his community that he might be eligible to
approach. That’s everything from low-income housing to job training
services. Encourage him to make appointments at each place and find
out what he is eligible for in terms of direct support and assistance.
Work with him to look at social service agencies that work with low-
income people, places that have experiences teaching the realities of
life to those on the short end. If there’s some kind of gay community
center, ask them if they have special programs. Tell him you will no
longer listen to whiney, self-reinforcing, negative phone calls. ell him
to send you his resume when it is drafted, so you can help him edit it.
Ultimately you may have to say, I cannot be your final safety net.
That’s hard to do, but may be what he needs to hear to finally get