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Little brother now living with us part time... what to do?(long)

My little brother got a job this summer working construction downtown, about 20 minutes from our house. He is 20 and still lives with my parents, who live about 1 hour from us, so that means his work commute is almost an hour and a half each way. He is a responsible kid and he's trying to work his way through school, and about a month ago he asked if he could stay with DH & I "a few nights a week" so that his commute would be much shorter. The understanding at the time was that this would only last until he went back to school in the fall, so we said yes. I also assumed that he would basically just be sleeping at our house but not really 'living' here.

However...he has decided not to go back to school full time this fall (money issues). Since then he has continued to stay with us pretty much every weeknight. Not only that, but he is doing a lot more than just sleeping here - he eats our food, uses my computer (he doesn't have his own), does laundry here and generally makes himself at home in our house. He's pretty much a roommate. I feel obligated to include him in our family dinner.

There are lots of problems with this...we are in a small house, he eats a LOT (20 year old guy, manual labor, do the math) and he's not the cleanest/neatest guy ever. I have a 4 month old son and have recently gone back to work full time, leaving me with very little time to cook and clean for him. We have recently hired a nanny which has basically cut our living budget in half, so money is tight.

To be fair, he buys about half the groceries he consumes and he often plays with DS while I do things around the house (DH travels a lot). He mows the lawn occasionally and will happily offer any assistance I ask for. He knows how to cook and will cook for himself if he has to.

However, I never wanted a roommate...and I feel like the gig is up. But I don't feel right about kicking him out, I care about him a lot and he's a great kid. The struggle for me is that I feel like we need to make some adjustments to the arrangement if he's going to be here through the fall and I'm not sure how to talk to him about it. I want him to buy all of his own groceries, do a better job cleaning up after himself, and take responsibility for a few household chores. I would prefer that he not monopolize my computer (he generally messes around on FB or whatever when he's not studying, but sometimes I would like to use it too, after all it is mine!). I want him to have an "exit plan" - some target of getting his own place or doing something about the commute so he's not staying with us indefinitely. I want to be able to ask these things of him without hurting his feelings or making him feel like we don't want to do everything we can to help him during a tough time (my dad lost his job recently so my parents can't offer him any help).

I guess I partly just need to vent but I would love to hear any advice. Thanks! 

Jude Wayne - Born 4/23/10 Violet Patricia - Born 12/5/12 Breastfeeding, baby-wearing work-at-home mom of 2 living in Rockville, MD

Re: Little brother now living with us part time... what to do?(long)

  • You tell him the deal was a few nights and only until Fall. You don't want a roommate and you are giving him a week to make other arrangements. He can find a roommate. You can't control his feelings, but you have a marriage to worry about and your own home.
  • I agree. Sit down and tell him that you love him, but that you need for him to move on. The deal was until fall, and the time has arrived. He can look for a roommate, go back to your parents, or find something else. You have been more than generous.
  • You could do as PPs have suggested.  If you really want to work something out so he can stay for awhile, charge rent and work out more details about the arrangement.  

    We recently offered our guest room to a close friend, and she took advantage, so please be careful.  But, from our experience, here are a few suggestions:

    1. Pay 1/3 of utilities, as he will be using about that much.

    2. Provide his own food, TP, soap, etc.  You are not a store.  

    3. Work out a rent to cover the rest of what he may use.  

    4. He should be responsible for his own laundry- including buying detergent and washing sheets and towels.   

    5. Work out a schedule for cleaning that ALL will stick to- household chores, yard work, etc.

    And lastly, tell him that he needs to get his own computer or limit his time online.  You need it as well and should not have to wait in line for something you purchased.  

    Good luck, and remember, family is usually understanding, and men are generally oblivious to what they do! 

  • Tell him everything you just told us!  In a nice way, of courrse. Tell him you don't have a problem with him staying longer than planned but there are going to be some rules to living under your roof until he finds a place close by that he can afford, preferably with a room mate. Designate certain chores to him such as cleaning up after dinner and maybe vacuuming or cleaning the bathroom.  Stress that when he makes a mess to clean it all up because you're his sister, not  his maid.  Have him help out with DS when nanny is off.  Make him buy his own groceries - all of food, necessities and toiletries.  Have him cook dinner 2-3 days a week and kick in financially for the meals you make.  Make him pay a third of the water bill for showers and laundry.  And tell him until he can afford to buy himself a laptop, he can only use the computer from this time to that time, then he needs to free it up so you and DH can use it.
    [IMG]http://i42.tinypic.com/x200p0.jpg[/IMG]
  • I agree with tnrb, a lot of times, guys are just oblivious to what they're doing to bother you.  To them it doesn't even cross their minds most of the time.  I think if you sit him down and let him know that you truly care about him, but the agreement was until fall, and give him suggestions on what he can do, he'll be just fine.

    Try not to make him feel like you're kicking him out per say, but let him know you're willing to help him find a roommate or apartment if he chooses not to go back to your parent's.  That way he isn't left feeling like you just dropped him, but more like you're still helping him.

     Good luck!

  • As someone who has been in this situation with my little bro I completely understand your frustration. Unless rules are completely layed out ahead of time the arrangement can go sour quickly.

     When my brother was in college he would stay with us a few nights a week because it was close to school and my parents lived further away. It decreased his commute which we were happy to accomodate.

    It wasn't a problem at first but it becomes overwhelming to have an extra person living in your home if you are over the whole roommate thing (which I was at that point in my life). 20 year-old boys tend to be immature at times. He didn't mean to be a slob but he just didn't get the whole "respect for other peoples things/food/space". I feel that comes with maturity.

    Is he the youngest in your family? That was the issue with my brother. My brother was the youngest and my mom pampered him and didn't make him pick up after himself. He didn't pay rent or help out while he lived with them so he assumed that was how he could function with someone else.

    Sounds like he is still functioning like he is a kid living at home to some extent. You have every right to explain that although you love helping him out, you have to set up structure for your own home, especially with the new baby.

    When I explained this to my brother he quickly found other arrangements with people his own age. It's possible he won't like having that much structure at his age but don't feel guilty for requesting so. It is your home and you really aren't doing him any favors by letting him freeload in any way. By eating your food, not picking up after himself most of the time and assuming he could stay with you after taking a break from school is a form of freeloading in my book. Been there done that and it can cause ill feelings.

    I would set boundaries before it gets to the point where it causes issues with your relationship. If he doesn't like your boundaries, then he can find other arrangements. It's not mean to do so. In fact, it will show him a bit of the real world.

  • Okay, here are a few thoughts, not necessarily in any particular order:

    1- You sound very kind and generous.  You've accomodated him during a difficult time to reduce his commute and lend a bit of support.  Go YOU!

    2- Things have changed since you first set-up this arrangement.  They changed, so now you are duty bound to address the change and plan anew. This doesn't make you a bad person or mean or anything negative, it means that things changed and you have to talk about how you all are going to adjust to it.

    3- Talk. That's the tricky part, right? How do you talk without coming across as mean or insensitive?  Your best bet is to listen, too. I know, you're thinking "Well, of course I'll listen to him!". And you probably will. But you have quite a long and reasonable list of things to say (all good things!) and right now your plan is to tell him and for him to say "OK".  Not much of a conversation. Listening means asking and being willing to hear what he needs from you.  And then having a frank and open conversation about what you (and he) is willing to do and what you're not willing to do.  The goal here is not to just say "This is what I need from you to allow you to stay here. Take it or leave it." The goal is to say "This is what we need from each other to make this work. Otherwise, we need to make new arrangements."

    4- Has he really looked at all of his options?  I agree that he's got a pretty sweet deal in your place - food, company, laptops, free rent; but that needs to change soon. For his sake as well as yours. You are not his parent and it is not your job to support him.  That said, when he realized the deal has changed, does he have any better options anywhere else? Has he even looked or considered it? It's been my experience that 20 yo's tend to have friends and lots of living options.  If only for "a night or two" it may ease the growing tensions in your house if he spread out a bit.     

    5- You need to risk hurting his feelings and deal with picking up the pieces. Its emotional blackmail to be stay silent out of fear of being seen as mean or unsupportive.  I think you have a pretty honest and reasonable list of things you need from him to accept him as a roommate (including an exit plan). Next you'll listen to what he needs, too. Not communicating out fear of hurting feelings or being misunderstood is not healthy and just results in expressing yourself in oddly inappropriate ways.

    Good luck!

     

    My darling daughter just turned 4 years old.
  • I think you open the conversation by explaining the original arrangement was temp until the Fall, it's now Fall, so we have to make a new arrangement.

    I think for your sanity and marriage, he needs to find his own place.  But, you may let him suggest a reasonable move out window while you tell him your max (e.g., one month but not more than two months.)  Until he moves out, you need him to help more. When he first moved in, you didn't really think through the impact of another person in the house. Now, you know you need to him to (kick in $$ for groceries, clean regulary, limit computer). Be specific and get him to agree these are reasonable and doable.

    Finally, I would encourage him to come back and visit for an occasional mid-week dinner or weekend dinner (whatever schedule works for you). From your OP, it sounds like you enjoy his company and DS has enjoyed him, so you don't want to lose that. 

  • Take the last paragraph that you wrote and explain that to your brother.  Tell him that the original plan has changed, therefore, you have some questions for him and the 'rules' may need to change accordingly.

    Ask him what his plan of attack is.  Ask him to be upfront and clear with you and not vague.  Exactly when is he planning on getting his own place?  If your dad is laid off, seems that younger brother could probably be of more use to your parents and should probably be back at home helping out. 

     

  • I'd simply tell him that it is fall, the arrangement is ending and you need your space back, since you have a family.

    He can go back to living with your parents or renting a tiny studio near work.

    Hope is not a strategy.
  • Brother it is but your house is not a free hotel.

    Give him a deadline to be out and the ROOMS FOR RENT ads. In the interim, set rules: he pays room and board, keeps his room clean, cleans up after himself, music/tv to a dull roar, no loud guests. 

  •   I think that you just need to be honest yourself first (do you really want him there longer) and then with him.  The temporary arrangement you made has come to a close.  If he wants to keep staying with you long term, you have to take him on as a renter and that means contracts, rent, responsibilities, etc.  Sit down before you talk to him and make a list of things that you'd want if he chooses to stay.  Write it all out.  X for rent, X for groceries, x% of utilities, XYZ cleaning tasks, internet connection (but he needs to get a computer) so that when you two talk it over, everyone knows exactly what the expectations are.  If he wants to keep staying with you, he signs the agreement. 
  • why can't he move back to your parents house? a lot of people have long commutes, he'll just have to dealwith it. he's only 20. it won't kill him :)

    your agreement was until the fall (start of school). that's this comign week. i'd ask him to be out by the 15th. end of story. be nice, he's your little bro, but he's got to go.

    Friday, December 28 2012. The day I had emergency appendix surgery in Mexico and quit smoking. Proof that everything has a good side!! DH and I are happily child-free!! No due date or toddler tickers here!! my read shelf:
    Alison's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf) 
  • why can't he move back to your parents house? a lot of people have long commutes, he'll just have to dealwith it. he's only 20. it won't kill him :)

    your agreement was until the fall (start of school). that's this comign week. i'd ask him to be out by the 15th. end of story. be nice, he's your little bro, but he's got to go.

    Friday, December 28 2012. The day I had emergency appendix surgery in Mexico and quit smoking. Proof that everything has a good side!! DH and I are happily child-free!! No due date or toddler tickers here!! my read shelf:
    Alison's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf) 
  • Thanks for all the support and advice. I got some great ideas and I'm going to try to talk to him about it in the next day or two.
    Jude Wayne - Born 4/23/10 Violet Patricia - Born 12/5/12 Breastfeeding, baby-wearing work-at-home mom of 2 living in Rockville, MD
  • image ZestofLime:
    I'd simply tell him that it is fall, the arrangement is ending and you need your space back, since you have a family.

    He can go back to living with your parents or renting a tiny studio near work.

    I agree with this. There's nothing wrong with you not wanting your brother to live with you. You gave him an opportunity, he really went beyond the boundaries of the original agreement the two of you set and now he's changed that even more by not going to school this fall.

    Now it's time for him to make a new plan that doesn't involve living with you.  

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