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Brother knows what he needs

Washington Post

Dear Carolyn: My brother is in his 50s, highly qualified and educated and unemployed since our area had serious cutbacks in his profession.

I realize getting a job in this environment is terrifically hard. One of our frustrations is that no matter what anyone suggests, he has a reason (suggestion of your choice) won’t work.

I know he has also applied for positions outside his profession and in other locales.

He is personable and really decent. I wish I could help or point him to some venue that can offer help. Any suggestions would be welcome. – Sibling Who Really Cares

You really care, no doubt. There are times, though, that the most caring response is to trust someone to muddle through on his own.

This might be one of them. It’s apparently not an emergency. It’s not a case where others have connections, skills or expertise he lacks.

And it’s not as if you haven’t tried. Given his rejection of what “anyone suggests,” it sounds as if all of you who want so badly to help your brother need to stop proposing (suggestion of your choice). Even a great idea is a nuisance if it violates the airspace of the person you’re trying to help.

“Helping” and “doing” are deeply intertwined concepts – as are “spectating” and “nail-biting.” However, your brother is, by your account, highly qualified, highly educated, likable and disciplined. If you’re as anxious as you sound for some action you can take on his behalf, then I urge this: “We’ve all been throwing suggestions at you in an effort to help,” tell him. “What I’ve failed to say is this: You’re more than capable of recognizing when you want and need help. I’m sorry I’ve interfered, and hope that when you do need something, you’ll know you can come to me.”

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.
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