DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother moved back home after living on his own for about five years. He was living with his girlfriend during that time -- something that I didn’t like so much because she didn’t seem like a good influence. He started being late to work and slacking off in his responsibilities. He hardly called our mother, and did only what his ex wanted. Now, she has dumped him, and he has come back to our family home with his tail between his legs, asking my mother to take him in. I am so mad at him. He is a grown man and needs to act like one. My mother does not deserve to have to tend to his broken heart. She is old and needs to focus on herself. What can I do to get my brother to get his act together? -- Bum Brother, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
DEAR BUM BROTHER: You can take the temperature, so to speak, of your mother. Check in with her to see how she feels about having her son back home. Mothers tend to be instinctually territorial about their children and will do anything to help them to be happy, healthy and safe. Your brother is hurting now. Chances are, you couldn’t pry your mother away if you wanted to. You can get a sense of whether your mother is overwhelmed, though. You can also talk to your brother and tell him what you know and believe about your mother’s health. Encourage him to be aware of your mother’s state of being and avoid putting too much responsibility on her. Closely monitor things as they go along.