Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
Q. My mother babies my younger brother (he’s 14; I’m 24). She won’t let him do anything remotely risky or challenging. As a result, he is totally inactive and sits in the house all day playing video games. Is there anything I can say or do without overstepping boundaries or compromising my relationship with my mom?
A. For starters, get your brother out of the house. Engage him in a relatively risk-free activity that involves (a) sweating and (b) no screens whatsoever. I’m thinking Ping-Pong. In the process, you may find out that it’s his personality, not your mother’s, that’s prompting him to play Band Hero 24/7. (I assume your mom didn’t try to get you addicted to Nintendo during your teen years.) But if the problem persists and you continue to worry that your mother’s overprotectiveness is the root cause, you may want to broach the topic of your brother’s lack of physical activity. Say, “Mom, Johnny looks healthy when he gets some fresh air. Can you work with me to make sure he gets enough of it?” My guess is that she’ll be willing to join forces for this particular cause.