Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Little Brother Going Through Money Problems

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 18-year-old brother always seems to be low on money. He doesn’t have a job because he’s in school, and my parents do not help him financially. Although it is not my responsibility to pay for him, I feel bad when he has to skip out on things because he cannot afford it. I try to help him out as much as I can by taking him out to eat or leaving some cash at his apartment, but he rejects my assistance. Is there a way I can go about giving him money so that he’ll take it? -- Help a Brother Out, Roxbury, Massachusetts

DEAR HELP A BROTHER OUT: It is kind of you to want to support your brother. Do you know why your parents do not support him? Whatever the reason, since they don’t, perhaps he does need to get a part-time job. Many people go to school and work. I had a part-time job from age 16 so that I would have extra money.

You can talk to your brother and tell him that you know he doesn’t want your money, but point out that you want to help him as he is completing his education. Tell him you want to give him an extra boost, and you would appreciate it if he would accept a little something when you are able to offer it. He may still refuse, but you can give it one more try.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 49-year-old mother of five. My eldest recently married her high school sweetheart, and we love him dearly. After years of knowing him, I've picked up on the drinking habits that he has acquired as a young man. I know that multiple members in his family have alcoholism, and I feel as though I'm starting to see him develop it as well. I’m worried for my daughter; she picks up on it but does not want to confront him about it. Do you think it would be inappropriate of me to say something to either of them? -- Worried About Son-in-Law, Dayton, Ohio

DEAR WORRIED ABOUT SON-IN-LAW: This is a hard situation to manage, but it is important to sound a warning when it is obvious to you. You may want to speak with them individually first. Start with your daughter, and point out what you have witnessed and that you are concerned. Ask her if she has discussed this with her husband. Tell her you intend to speak to him.

Pick a sober moment to talk to your son-in-law. Tell him how much you love him and that you are worried about his well-being. Remind him of specific incidents when you have been concerned about his drinking. Suggest that he get help. He can start with Alcoholics Anonymous. Your daughter can visit Al-Anon for support of families of alcoholics. With help, they may be able to wrestle down this addiction.

Your daughter and son-in-law may both get angry with you, but you have to give it a try.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)