Q: My brother, “Chris,” is going through a divorce and lost his business. He is now lashing out at our mom and me when she spends time with me.
When I tried to express my sympathy, Chris attacked me via direct message, saying I have a “charmed life and don’t care about anyone — including him and our cash-strapped parents.” It started when Dad gave me a car he wasn’t using before we learned about my brother’s misfortune. When I tried to return it, Dad refused.
Because I stopped responding to him on the internet, Chris is now complaining to Mom about my “selfishness.” He says if the situation were reversed, he would have moved heaven and Earth to help me.
Abby, Chris has a job. He lives with our folks and pays token rent. My husband and I work, but I have had a salary cut, we have two kids to support and a mortgage to pay. We’re in no position to provide the financial assistance my brother expects. My parents suspect that he’s still giving money to his soon-to-be ex.
My husband says that Chris is trying to manipulate me and that I need to go on with my life, but I’m worried that the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to heal the rift. I’m also worried about how this is affecting our parents. — Grieving in Nicosia, Cyprus
A: You cannot heal a rift you didn’t create, and you also can’t “donate away” Chris’ resentment. He’s unhappy for a number of reasons and is taking it out on you not because you’re a bad sister, but because you are within striking distance.
Your brother needs to work out his difficulties himself. A family meeting, including your husband, might clear the air so all of you are on the same page. Your brother needs to understand why the financial help he seems to expect is unrealistic and will not be forthcoming.
Q: Is there any way to counter a stranger’s mean or hurtful remark (racist, age-related or sexist) in a mall or store? I feel I have to say something, without being confrontational, even if the remark isn’t aimed at me. What do you suggest? — Compelled to Act in Ottawa, Canada
A: Because you don’t want a confrontation, I urge you to say nothing to the person who made the offensive remark. However, you could approach the person who was the target and quietly say: “That was uncalled for. I hope you realize the person who said that is ignorant, and don’t let it get to you.”
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.