DEAR HARRIETTE: I believe in being supportive to my family, particularly my siblings. I am the kind of person who extends a helping hand.
My brother, a talented tailor, is currently looking for work but is having much difficulty. Since he is struggling, I have been lending him money when I can.
One day, I was talking to one of my co-workers and she mentioned she needed some things hemmed. I told her my brother could do it. I told my brother, and he was excited. He named his price, I told my co-worker, and the next day she brought in the items for him to work on. I drove the items to my brother, and when he was finished I picked them up from him, took them to work for the woman, collected the payment and brought back the money. When I gave my brother the payment, he thanked me and quickly put away the money. He never offered me any portion.
If it were me, I would at least have given the person who was helping me this way a few dollars toward gas! I've come to realize that perhaps my brother is ungrateful, and that act proves it.
I've decided I need to set limits on how I help my brother in the future. How do I confront him about this? Do I stop helping him completely? -- Feeling Used in Chicago
DEAR FEELING USED: The problem is that you were unclear with your brother about your expectations. I doubt he meant to snub you. He likely was so excited about the opportunity to earn a few dollars that it didn't occur to him that he might owe you money or that he should share part of this payment with you. Chances are that he is so deeply in the hole that this payment seemed like a drop of water in the desert. Please know that I am not defending him. Instead, I am letting you know his possible mindset.
Instead of not helping your brother anymore, talk to him about your expectations and your recommendations as they relate to other people from whom he may have borrowed money. Tell him you were disappointed that he didn't give you a cut of that tailoring gig. Suggest that he pay back the amount he has borrowed, even if it is in very small amounts whenever he earns a few dollars. This will go a long way in promoting good will.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I received a call the other day from a former colleague. It was out of the blue. The person called because she and her family didn't have power after the hurricane. She asked if we had power, which we did, and then she asked if they could come to shower at our house. I immediately said yes, but my husband didn't like it. They came, and now he's mad at me. What should I have done? -- Good Samaritan, New York
DEAR GOOD SAMARITAN: You should have taken the time to talk it out with your husband and to explain the need to be good human beings in the face of tragedy. Sometimes tragedy affects people differently. Maybe he was not looking at the big picture.
It's good that you helped your former co-worker. Now talk to your husband about how you did not intend to be disrespectful but did need to help someone in crisis.