I’ve been home for a little over an hour and a half after a hellish day:the head teacher was out for the third day in a row, and the kids ran us ragged; one child’s parent had a huge hissy fit because we wouldn’t bring her kid on a field trip without her signing a permission slip and she swore at several people on the phone and is insanely threating to sue; we had two field trips (one for each class) in one day; for the second day in a row one of the kids burst in to tears on me and took forever to comfort(there’s a flu going around, and the kids that are doing this are getting sent home with fevers soon after); and to wrap things up one of my kiddos got glitter in his eye, and I spent almost a half an hour helping him get it out and calming him down. Then I spent two hours at an autism workshop- which I had to find on my own for the first time which makes me stress- after missing the first lecture because of being sick last week and getting an ominous e-mail about the lengthy registration process I missed.
So I’m finally home and trying to calm down, because I’ve been on an adrenaline rush since about 8am this morning. My brother (age 18) just called me and tells me that there might be a problem with his car, but he’s not coming home now because a friend is driving him to the mall now. And if he’s not home by 10:30 I should drive over to Durham (a half hour away) and look for him. I told him that I didn’t think that it was fair of him to expect that of me, since I have to work in the morning, and he should come home now if he’s anticipating a problem. So then he tells me I’m being completely unreasonable because there only “might” be a problem yadda yadda yadda. He doesn’t know that I’ve had a bad day, because he didn’t bother to ask me anything before launching into his little thing about me needing to look for him, but am I really being unreasonable here? I plan to be in bed by 10:30!
I’m asking because this is a pattern that emerging and I’m not sure what to do about it: every time I assert that he’s making unreasonable demands (on me) and he gets furious instead of even considering taking responsible actions. Is there a nice way of telling him he’s being a jerk and to grow up?
Well, I suppose, if you want to go and try to be nice about it…
elfkin, I don’t know you or your family dynamic, but you know objectively that your brother is being a jerk about this, or you wouldn’t have written the OP as you did. I’m not sure a “nice” approach would be effective.
Be direct. Be very direct. Something on the lines of, “Little Brother, you’re 18 years old now, and that’s too old to expect Big Sister to bail you out all the time. I have a life to live, too. I love you and will help you whenever I can, but it’s about time you started acting your age.”
If you really want to try something nicer, I’d suggest working in something about him being an adult now, and how you respect his maturity enough to allow him to “live his own life.” Or some such nonsense, as he doesn’t seem very mature from the little you’ve said about him.
Which begs the questions: Does he live with you? Does he contribute to your life, or is he just a taker, expecting you to be his contingency taxi service?
At face value (and not knowing all the details of your family life) I think your brothers request was unreasonable. If he knows you have to work and he’s off playing late at night, he shouldn’t ask those things of you.
You might also preface it with telling your bro “it’s been a bad day, bucko, I’m not playing taxi driver.”
Yes, he’s being unreasonable and it’s irrelevant whether you’ve had a bad day. It would be just as unreasonable had you had a good day.
I’ve learned the hard way, though, that people who are constantly subsidized will never stand on their own two feet. You’ve deemed his request unreasonable and you’ve communicated your feelings to him. Now the ball is in your court. If he calls and wants a ride home, you can either continue to subsidize him (thus making him more dependent on you) or you can let him make his own way.
You aren’t being unreasonable to refuse to chauffer him, but you’re going about it the wrong way.
What it sounds like, is that he made a request, and you tried to get him to unmake the request. His making the request is not unreasonable! Do you really want him to think he can never ask anything of you? It is your responsibility to determine if you are willing to fulfill his request, not his.
By the same token, it was not unreasonable for you to say “No” . No explanation should be necessary. In fact, I recommend against giving explanations. Giving a reason conveys that you would do it if your reason didn’t exist and that is often not true. Also, giving an explanation usually gives the other person an opening to argue with you.
If you tell him “No” and he bitches, then he is being unreasonable. Don’t address what he requested, just tell him that you are not automatically going to do everything he asks you to do and to stop relying on your doing so.
You must be able to refuse his requests. If you can’t tell him no, then you will spoil him to the point that he will be asking for more and more things that cause you real problems. And I’ve known many people who can’t say “No” . It causes much, much worse problems than an argument with a sibling.
(My mom could never say “No”, so she would get mad at me when I asked for things. I learned to not ask for things or help, even when I needed something. I had to unlearn that, and I still have problems because of it.)
I want to amend my post slightly.
If this was to happen after you always go to bed, then it wasn’t the most reasonable request he could have made. However, the proper response would have been “You know that is after my bedtime” This won’t work if you stay up past that time every other day though.
Also, if you want to train him to recognize that you always go to bed at a certain time, then you give that as a reason to deny his request.
I think you are being unreasonable in even entertaing the thought that you could be in the wrong.
Forget the bad day stuff. This demand would be nuts if you have a good day. Stop letting your brother treat you like a doormat.
I mean I’m sure that if he called you at midnight and said I’m having car trouble could you come get me. You should go. But the fact that he knows that trouble is brewing with the car means that as a grown-up, automoblie owner/operator he should take care of that problem and pass up on the mall.
So, elfkin, what’s the rest of the story? Did you have to pick him up last night? Have you had a talk with him? I’ve been picturing that:
elfkin: Hello? Little Brother? Hi, I just called because I think we need to talk about…
Lil’ Bro: Good, sis, 'cause I wanted to ask you…
elfkin: Wait a minute. I’m really want to talk about this. I think you’ve been making unreasonable demands on my time lately, and haven’t been taking responsibility for yourself.
Lil’ Bro: Such as?
elfkin: Well, such as expecting me to be on call to come out and pick you up last night, just so you could go to the mall in a car you knew was having problems. You know I have to get up early for work.
Lil’ Bro: Well, geez, elfkin, you’ve always done that kinda stuff for me before. What’s the big deal?
elfkin: The deal is that you’re 18 now and it’s about time you began acting like an adult.
Lil’ Bro: Sez who?
elfkin: Well, Seven, China Guy, Pundit Lisa, Zyada, Zebra, and Wisest Novel.
Lil’ Bro: What the heck is that? Some kind of punk rock law firm?
elfkin: Never mind. The point is, “it’s been a bad day, bucko, I’m not playing taxi driver” any more. Now, what did you want to say?
Lil’ Bro: Well, my car broke down. Can I have a hundred bucks for…
Or alternately, charge him. It would take an hour to do that…plus it’s after you usually turn in. So, charge him how much that hour would be worth to you. Then charge him double that, for OT. Then charge him for gas.Do that every single time he wants you to bail him out. Make sure you get the money before you let him in the car. If he’s going to use you like a Taxi service, charge him like one.
He’ll get sick of paying you, probably, and in the meantime, you make a nice little sum of money.
My favorite mantra from the 80’s:
Just say no.
When he calls to ask for such a ridiculously self-absorbed favor, just say no. Then hang up.