» This Story:Read +|Talk +| Comments

Carolyn Hax: Brother's overseas girlfriend has family hot and bothered

(Nick Galifianakis for The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo    
Discussion Policy
Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.
Friday, March 19, 2010

Hi, Carolyn:

My family has a tricky wicket. A year ago September, my brother, at 22, received a year-long work visa for Australia. While my parents weren't thrilled he'd be away (we're a close family), they are relatively supportive of our choices and try to not be obstructive.

This Story

A year later, my brother had to return to the States, but not before falling in love with a local. None of us likes her. Now he's totally smitten and plans to leave immediately to spend another six months with her in Australia.

I think the part that really upsets my parents is that he's literally thousands of miles away, and has shown ZERO interest in getting a job or taking some semblance of adult responsibility. My brother is a smart, talented college graduate but can't see the forest for the trees with this Aussie serving as a shiny distraction. Mom is crushed, Dad is non-responsive and neither my sister nor I can talk sense into him. This is tearing our family apart, and I can only begin to imagine the WW3 that will erupt when the grandparents lay into him.

Anonymous

Has anyone made a connection between the family's deep investment in his life choices and his sluggish start on adulthood?

Just asking.

The best remedy for a 22-year-old with an unappealing girlfriend is to support his right to choose while you hope the thing runs its course.

And the best remedy for a 22-year-old who is slow to assume responsibility is to remove the financial crutch.

Pulling out all the emotional whips and chains -- where the "crushed" and "non-responsive" hand-wringers "talk sense into" and "lay into" someone? That tears families apart. Actually, that's often what makes distractions so shiny. Mates who are a direct challenge (geographically, emotionally, culturally . . . ) to family absolutes can seem like oxygen to someone smothered by those absolutes.


CONTINUED     1        >


» This Story:Read +|Talk +| Comments
© 2010 The Washington Post Company