DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: In his last year of college I loaned my brother some money to help him pay the last month’s rent before he moved home. He had been working at a restaurant that closed a few weeks before he graduated, and no one wanted to hire someone for such a short time.
I don’t regret helping him out, but that was two years ago, and he has been working steadily since moving back home. He doesn’t pay rent for now, but I do, and every time I remind him about the money he owes me, he tells me he’ll get it for me the next time he gets paid, but so far, nothing’s come my way. I have even mentioned it to our dad, and he sticks up for my brother, saying maybe I should forgive the loan, which I might have thought of doing, but not anymore. It has created tension every time I go home to see my parents and my brother is there and I hate that. Is it petty to want my money back? --- STILL WAITING FOR PAYDAY
DEAR STILL WAITING FOR PAYDAY: Shakespeare’s advice, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” never goes out of style for a reason.
You have a choice to make. Either you give your brother an ultimatum for repayment by a designated date, or you walk away from the debt, forgiving and forgetting ─ two actions that don’t necessarily work together in reality.
If you chose to collect, make the case of your need strong, letting him know you have bills to pay. If you opt for forgiveness, try to look at it as a belated graduation, birthday, Hanukkah, and Christmas gift all rolled into one ─ and, leave it at that.