Radio Show

Fatherly Advice: A Sibling’s Guidance


A radio listener calls Father Dave in need of some Fatherly Advice: “I have a brother — he’s about six years my younger, so I feel a sort of maternal [connection to him]. Anyway, he met a girl last Christmas, and they’ve gotten pretty close pretty quickly, and they’ve decided to move in together. And I’m just feeling really uncomfortable about it, and I’m [wondering] should I say something? Because he’s a practicing Catholic and I’m a practicing Catholic … and I know he’s not going to want to hear it, and it’s gonna hurt. … Are we called as Catholics to say something if somebody’s doing something that we know is wrong?”

Before getting into what the Church has to say about all this, Father Dave points out: “I just heard you say that you want to say something … So why wouldn’t you?”

The caller responds: “Just because I know [my brother is] going to be upset with me … And I don’t really feel like me saying something is really going to change anything.”

“But why do you think that?” Father Dave asks. “Why do you think it wouldn’t change anything? … Look at it this way: [your brother and his girlfriend] may not say, ‘Tear up the rental agreement and call it off!’ But I don’t think that [means] it won’t change anything. It may change how he feels about it. It may change how he’s responding to the Holy Spirit … When we enter into sin, we try to convince ourselves that it’s okay, and sometimes … we get it on our own, but oftentimes it’s somebody else who has to be the mouthpiece of conscience.”

After conceding that the conversation might make her brother uncomfortable, Father Dave asks the caller, “You described yourself as somewhat maternal in the relationship [with your brother] — are you actually a mother yet yourself?” She tells him that she is, and Father Dave analogizes her present situation to one that might arise as she raises her children: “Well, I would imagine you have occasionally had to say something that you were pretty sure [your children] weren’t going to like, right? So, in those situations, what overrode [your feeling that you] don’t want to ruffle feathers … What was it that pushed you past [that feeling and made you think that you] do need to say something?”

When the caller says that she corrects her kids just because she’s their mother, Father Dave points out that it is certainly deeper than that: “It’s not just because you’re their mother — it’s because that’s what would be best for them. And if they did something wrong, it would hurt them or they would hurt someone else. If you’re their mother and you’re telling them not to touch the stove, it’s not just because you’re their mother. It’s because you don’t want [your child to get] a third-degree burn … It’s the bigger things that motivate us to do these things that are right.”

“Obviously it’s different,” Father Dave continues, “You’ve got four young children and your maternal relationship is officially maternal. When you’re talking about a sibling, [it is different]. Maybe it’s easier for [your brother] to hear it from someone who isn’t his older sister — somebody like a peer or somebody else from church … A lot will ride on how you do it, how you say it. If you say, ‘You are my brother, I love you, I love our Church, and I know you do too …’ Not coming off as ‘You’re doing something wrong,’ but coming off as saying, ‘This is so important to me that it would be disingenuous for me to sit here and say nothing, so I have to. And I love you and I’ve got to say this …’ Even if he’s been okay with [the somewhat maternal role] that you’ve had for years, in this situation, I’d be more of a [sibling and a friend].” (Original Air 05-23-17)