I have a lot of family problems at the moment and am wondering if you can please guide me in the right direction?

My family consists of my mom and my brother and I. I am the only Christian in my family. My dad passed away over a year ago and my family got some money from life insurance among other things which I call the family fund. My mom is schizophrenic, and has had it since my childhood, so she doesn't provide the family any income other than the retirement pension from my dad, but she does work part-time. My younger brother hasn't worked in almost two months. I live in another city and attend school full-time while receiving money from financial aid, though I have used the family fund at times. Since my dad's passing, I have been overseeing the family fund and have tried to take care of my family in different ways. I have handed control of the money to my brother so he has been paying the bills and using that money for our mom and himself.

Our family fund has now dwindled down a lot and might only last another six months. My mom and brother rely on the fund to pay bills and other necessities. I have not worked since I moved out the summer before last, so I haven't really contributed to the family fund and that is my fault. I've contacted Social Security about benefits for my mom, but she can't apply for another six months and that may be too late. I am wondering in what ways can my family find money to survive after the family fund is gone?

My mother has been tough to live with for both my brother and I because of her schizophrenia. She acts very immature and doesn't seem to have developed as an adult and has a very needy personality. She has also been a smoker of cigarettes for a long time. She won't quit and even denies that she smokes. She does a lot of things that annoy me. She does go see the doctor from time to time and takes medication for the schizophrenia.

Another big problem I have is with my younger brother. My brother graduated high school two years ago and has not made enough money to really contribute to the family fund. Recently he quit his part-time job. Recently he told me he has a lot of personal problems such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, being unsure of himself, lacks clarity in his thoughts, paranoia with people, etc. He also has been smoking marijuana for a while and does it in the apartment that my mom and he lives in, which really bothers me. I got into a harsh argument with him about it recently that I regret doing. Since my brother controls the fund, he has used some of the fund unwisely on marijuana, helping a friend of his who is struggling financially, and buying things for himself (he can buy things for himself, but I think he's used too much for that). Now I have used the money unwisely at times too, to pay for material items and such, though I did use it for school too, so it's not just his fault. I don't know what to do with my brother since we seem to think so differently.

I have my own personal problems in addition to all that is happening with my family. I've struggled in my faith to desire God and serve Him though I've been trying to attend worship services and praying to God. I've struggled with pornography and have struggled with anxiety and depression. I have struggled with being selfish and want to do things my way and for myself. I have struggled with getting a job as I have a lack of motivation to do so though I have tried here and there but not enough. I really have no excuses for my actions, though I'm thankful I have had money from financial aid.

I am feeling really down right now because of the issues. I don't know what to do. I've felt really uncomfortable being around my family because of my brother. I don't enjoy being around marijuana and his actions. I've been visiting my family for the holiday and feel like leaving already. I even thought of dividing the fund between my brother and I, and letting my brother do whatever he wants and not taking care of him anymore because of his actions but that seems too harsh. I don't know what to do with my schizophrenic mom either, and have been thinking about whether there's a care taking facility of some sorts for mentally disabled people. I'm in a big mess.

In what ways, biblically, can I improve my situations?


It appears to be a large mess because there are so many separate but intertwining issues at play. It can be hard to separate the issues.

A part of the problem is that you are not letting people be responsible for their own decisions. Your father's death caused you to grow up quickly, but at the same time the family fund allow all your family avoid complete responsibility. Each person in your family is an adult. Your mother is a special situation because of her schizophrenia, but we'll cover that in a moment.

As adults, each of you knows the difference between right and wrong and are responsible for your decisions. This means you cannot be responsible for their decisions. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20). You don't agree with many of their choices, and for good reasons, but you cannot override those choices nor take the consequences of those choices from them. All you can do is suggest better paths for them to take in life.

Let's start with your mom. It appears you are certain that she is not mentally capable of caring for herself. You are in no position to assume responsibility for her care. Therefore, as a dutiful son, it is your responsibility to see that she receives whatever aid may be available to her. You've checked into Social Security benefits, but those will not start until later in the year. What I suggest is going to the Department of Health and Social Services in the county where she lives and discuss with a social worker what options are available to her. Unless she is legally declared to be incompetent, there may be little you can do for her.

So do what you can with what is available. Lay out a budget for her that will allow her to survive from now until the Social Security funds start coming in. Whatever remains of the family's funds should be devoted to that. If she is still working or will be working, even if it is part-time, then than income should be factored into her living expenses as well. But remember that whether she stays within her budget is her choice. Since it appears that she has no access to the family fund, then her responsibility remains only in her own income. When laying out the budget, try to place critical items, such as housing and utilities against the family fund and place optional items, such as her cigarette habit against her own income.

Your brother is a drug addict. While I understand that giving him control of the family fund made life easier on you, it wasn't a wise thing to do. The fact that he is mismanaging the fund is proof of that. In Proverbs, your brother falls under the category of a "fool." I would suggest getting a concordance and reading every passage in Proverbs that mentions the fool. In this case, "Luxury is not fitting for a fool, much less for a servant to rule over princes" (Proverbs 19:10) fits the situation well.

When it comes to moral choices, things don't become right or wrong because you made similar mistakes. They were mistakes when you made them, therefore they are mistakes when your brother does something similar. But you are going too far in excusing your brother's misbehavior. You've used some of the funds for personal items, and you feel guilty for that. Your brother is using a much larger portion of the funds for illegal and unwise things, but I suspect he has no remorse. Yes, your own misuses makes it harder to rebuke him, but it doesn't change right and wrong. If your brother knows about your misuses, then he will excuse his own misbehaviors and will not listen to you, but that cannot be changed.

I don't know what options are available to you. If you can, I would strongly suggest taking control of the fund once again, even if that adds a burden to you for a while. As I suggested before, layout a plan to stretch what is left in the fund to support your mom until other funds become available. Whatever is left (if there is anything) can then be divided between you and your brother. Your brother is benefiting as it is because he is living with your mother, but no more money for personal expenses. If he wants additional money to live on, he must work. "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10). His complaints of psychological problems should be ignored. They are either of his own imagination, or from the drugs he is using. Either way, they are his responsibility. Even if they truly existed, which I highly doubt, other people with them manage to live and work with them -- so can he. If he is truly disabled, then he should have been applying for disability. No matter how you add it up, you are not responsible for your brother's decisions.

If you can't regain control of the family fund, then you can give your brother the budget and then tell him, "Good luck." There isn't anything more you can do for him or your mother since it is out of your hands.

For yourself, I suspect the depression comes from your attempt of trying to control situations that are actually out of your control. As a result you spend a lot of fruitless time worrying. Fruitless because you can't do anything about the situations you are worried about. Your "selfish" feelings are coming from wanting to fix your family's problems, but you are anxious because you don't have the control. When things are out of your control, you should put them into the hands of the only one who can control them -- God. And He definitely knows when to leave people to face the results of their own decisions.

Once you have talked to a social worker and figured out how much money from the family fund is needed to keep your mother until other money sources are available, then you will know how much is available for you. I suspect that seeing it written out and knowing that there is no more will spur you get a part-time job for your own personal expenses.