Chopping Block

5 Dec

Letterbalm Man Chopping VegetablesDear LetterBalm: My brother and I are close, partly for protection against our judgmental, bullying parents. He’s a fantastic cook and loves it and recently told me that he’s working as a sous-chef in a good restaurant run by a well-known chef. He said he has a real possibility of rising in his field. He’s doing this instead of going to graduate school to be an archivist, something my parents have pushed him to do and which he’s always hated. He quit graduate school last year, but they don’t know that. My brother has never been able to stand up to our mother and father – they’ve always intimidated him. But now he’s making enough money to support himself. I think he should stand up to them and stop living a lie (he makes up stuff about school when he sees them, they talk about his potential, blah, blah). How can I convince him? He knows I’ll always be there for emotional support.

–Big Sister

How sad that two grown children must perpetuate a deception to placate their awful parents. Of course, you know that it isn’t your job to tell your mother and father the truth about your brother’s life. That’s his business. Ms. L.B. believes you can tell him only once that if he wants to free himself from their psychological yoke, he should stand up to them. Both you and he know the fallout from telling the truth would be grave. But, at the same time, it could free both of you once and for all. Talk over everything with Chef Brother:

Harold, I’m so proud that you’ve begun a real career as a chef. It looks like you can be really happy doing something you love and for which you have a real talent. But you know that Mom and Dad need to be told the truth sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the worse it will be. Look, you’re a grown man supporting himself doing what he loves, which means they have no power over you. Sweetie, you know I love you so much, and I’ll have your back whenever you decide to tell them. You can even rehearse ahead of time with me.

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