Dave Says: It’s a tough situation for both of you

Published 4:49 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

Dear Dave, 

I’m worried about my younger brother, and I need some advice. He’s divorced and has a son, and lately, it seems like he only wants to be a dad when it’s convenient. On top of this, he’s very irresponsible with money for someone in their thirties. Our mom and dad passed away several years ago, so I feel like this leaves me to be the big brother and parent at the same time. I’m not sure how to help him. Can you give me some advice, please? 


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Dear Andy,

You’re a good and caring big brother to be concerned and want to help. And it’s a tough situation for you, especially with your parents no longer in the picture.

When I help people on my show, I have the benefit of them calling in and actually wanting help. These folks care about what I think, and in most cases, they realize things aren’t working for them. I don’t just walk up to people and say, “You know, what you’re doing is really stupid. Let me fix you.” I think that’s kind of the situation you’re in right now. So, before anything else, I’d begin to pray for him. Ask God to bring people into his life who will have a positive impact on him.

One of the worst things about these situations is watching people you love do bad things to themselves and the people around them. Honestly, I don’t know there’s really a lot you can do without becoming the enemy to some degree. You can always try to hold him to a higher standard, and refuse to tolerate immature, irresponsible behavior when you’re around him. You might even look for opportunities to use yourself as an example. I’m not talking about puffing out your chest and pretending to be perfect. I’m just saying maybe point out areas in your life where you made mistakes in the past and how you fixed the problems. But going out and trying to actively intervene in his life without permission, or shaming him in hopes it’ll make him grow up and be a man, would probably do more harm than good.

Approach him in a gentle, caring way. Again, not like some know-it-all, but just let him know you care and you’re there to help if he’s having difficulties. Take him out to lunch once in a while, or invite him over, and let him know you’re there for him if he needs to talk.

And remember what I said earlier about prayer? Bringing God into the equation is never a bad idea.


Dave Ramsey is an eight-time No. 1 national best-selling author, personal finance expert and host of The Ramsey Show, heard by more than 20 million listeners each week. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS Mornings, Today Show, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business, and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for the company, Ramsey Solutions.