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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I have a 25 year old younger brother who is living with a 19-year old woman and their 14-month old daughter. The woman takes off for one or two days at time without telling anyone where she is. Many of her family members have tried to intervene including seeking professional help for her. Nothing has helped. My brother says everything will work out in time. In the meantime he is missing work, and does not function through a normal day. How can I help him?

Answer

I can understand your concern for your brother and for your niece. Watching a family member in trouble is very difficult. It leaves you feeling helpless and lost. Unfortunately, the only person that can do anything that may make a difference is your brother. If he is willing to accept his girlfriend's erratic behavior, then she has no reason to change. Unless he is willing to take action there is nothing that you can do.

I am concerned about the effects on the child. You might suggest to your brother he think about what impact his family situation is having on her. If you believe that the child is in danger, you could call your local children's services agency. That would get both of the child's parent's attention. But it could also have dire consequences to your relationship with your brother. There is a fine line between family concern and family meddling. Good luck.

04/04/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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