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How Should My Family Handle My Narcissistic Brother?

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From the U.S.: My problem is my 23 year old brother claims he wants to move out yet he stays with us. (I’m 26 btw) He may have a job, but he doesn’t help around the house. My mother makes him contribute financially. My brother steals my dad’s  xbox controller since 2014 or 2015. My brother is a massive liar. Whenever he’s confronted he’ll lie about it.

Whenever my brother comes home from work or hanging out with his pals he comes back home leaving the kitchen lights on and I mostly have to turn them back on. It doesn’t help that my room has French doors, it’s located in the dining room next to the living room which makes bedtime a nightmare. I get that my mother had to raise us four kids. (My older sister moved out two years ago.)

I feel me and my mother had enabled him to be a spoiled pig by cleaning up his room and I usually get paid for that. This happened since 2013. In the late 2000s my mother and him would get into a fight about cleaning his room.
When my grandmother babysit, I help around the house I usually put away most of the laundry including my brother’s. Back then I was too scared to stand up to him. (I was sixteen back then) because I didn’t have the confidence to stand up to him.

He would manipulate me into playing outdoor sports with him back in 2007-2009 (thankfully he doesn’t do that no more.) My mother would go from defending him then to agreeing with us that he’s a jerk. The problem is that my brother doesn’t talk to any of us often. He would come to one of us when he needs something.

I told my father that I couldn’t take it anymore but he told me to be strong and perserverant. How am I supposed to be strong and perseverant when I’ve been dealing with my narcissist of a brother over the years?

How Should My Family Handle My Narcissistic Brother?

Answered by on -


There’s an old saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The point is that your family has taught him that he can do as he pleases with no negative consequences for inappropriate behavior. You didn’t give me enough information for me to make a guess why this got going. People can enable others out of fear, out of pity, because they feel they owe someone something, because they don’t know what else to do. Sometimes people enable someone in the hopes that if he gets enough support, he will straighten out. It rarely works but you can’t fault good hearted people from trying.

Sometimes parents and older siblings at first enable a younger sibling because he’s cute or because they feel sorry he can’t keep up. What starts with the best of the intentions becomes a nightmare as the kid gets older and still expects everyone to see him as the Little Prince he once was.

Perhaps you have an idea why your brother’s behavior is tolerated. If whatever started it still exists, chances are your parents won’t change their acceptance of his rude and entitled behavior. But that ‘s your parents’ decision.

You are 26 — an adult. You probably can’t change your family’s way of operating since (judging from your father’s comment) they don’t want to change — even though they complain about him. You can change your response. Better yet, you can work, save your money, and set a goal for leaving them all to sort it out together like your sister did.  You don’t have to be a part of it.

Meanwhile, stop cleaning his room (even if you are paid). Stop putting away his laundry. Put shades on your french doors so light won’t bother you. Don’t respond when he comes to you for something he wants. Let him know that he’s an adult and you will treat him like one even if no one else does. Then do it.

If your parents would like to change your brother’s treatment of the family, I suggest you all go together to see a family therapist. The therapist will make it clear that you all can’t change him. But you can change how you all respond to him. The therapist will give you guidance and support for doing so. If you do, and do it with consistency over time, your brother will no longer get what he wants by being obnoxious. He will have to either change or leave. He’ll hate having to finally grow up, but it could be the best thing that ever happened to him.

I wish you well.

Dr. Marie

How Should My Family Handle My Narcissistic Brother?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). How Should My Family Handle My Narcissistic Brother?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 26 Jun 2019 (Originally: 27 Jun 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 26 Jun 2019
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