Lazy Brother: What Can We Do?

20 November, 2019
Q As-Salamu ‘Alaykum.

My brother is one year older than me. He does not work, nor has he gone to college. He dropped out of high school and received his GED. He does not want to do anything. Instead, he stays at home and plays video games all day long which he has been doing for 7 years.

I am very worried because my parents are getting older and cannot work anymore. We are not wealthy and live on welfare.

My younger brother (22) is in the same boat, but instead of staying at home, he hangs out with his friends all the time. Sometimes, he doesn't come home for weeks. I am at my wit's end as to what to do.

I have asked my parents to kick them out so that my brothers can get some perspective, but they do not have the heart to do that! I have been praying for things to get better for this family for so many years, but the situation just keeps getting worse. I am completely at my wit's end; I feel I am trapped with no way out of this sadness around me.


In this counseling answer:

Have a meeting with your brothers to discuss the situation. Ask them what they dream for in life, what they would like to do with their future.

Have a family meeting about goals and dreams, to get an “in” on how and why they are thinking as they are.

Focus on your dreams and goals.

Try to balance your time in care-taking with social activities and possibly undertaking studies that you are interested in.

As-Salamu ‘Alaikum my dear sister,

I am so sorry to read of your situation at home and your brothers’ unwillingness to make something of their lives as well as taking responsibility around the house. It is, indeed, a heavy load you have been carrying all by yourself. May Allah (swt) bless you sister for all your efforts for your family.

As you seem to be the one in charge of family affairs at this point, I suggest you have a meeting with your brothers to discuss the situation.

I would not start out by telling them all that they are doing which is wrong as that would put them on the defense. Instead, ask them what they dream of in life, what they would like to do with their future. In sha’ Allah, this may open up a dialogue concerning future plans which can lead to concrete discussions on how they may attain their goals.

Lazy Brother: What Can We Do? - About Islam

Often times, when young adults live in poverty (you stated your family was on welfare), some members of the family, especially the males, may develop a self-defeatist attitude. This means a persistent pattern of behavior detrimental to the self, including being drawn to problematic situations or relationships and failing to accomplish tasks crucial to life objectives.

It is this attitude that causes the most damage in families. It affects the whole of the family. Instead of taking on responsibilities, the person just gives up or gets involved in counter-productive activities as an escape (such as playing videos all day).

While you did not say if your family immigrated to Canada or not, if so, there may also be issues with assimilation into your new country’s culture. In any case, your family needs intervention to thrive. It seems as if you are the one to initiate it, sister, as your parents do not want to as you stated.

Check out this counseling video:

As indicated above, I would attempt at a family meeting about goals and dreams, to get an “in” on how and why they are thinking as they are. If they are against talking or finding resolutions to their issues, I would seek the counsel of your local Imam.

I am not sure about the laws in Canada regarding welfare-work. However, in the USA, if one is able-bodied, one must be enrolled in a work program if they are not caregivers (which you are).

This would mean after a certain amount of time on welfare, the province would require them to work. You may want to check resources there. While not an optimal situation, it would at least get them into doing something productive.

Lastly, dear sister, I suggest that if you can, try to balance your time in care-taking with social activities and possibly undertaking studies that you are interested in. Social life and close friendships with other sisters is so important.

I encourage you to get involved, if you have not already, with your Islamic community for friendship, support, and participation in community events. You may be surprised at how much this can ease your sadness. They give you strength and options you may not know existed before.

I know this is not easily dear sister, but Allah (swt) is most merciful and knows your struggle and will provide relief, in sha’ Allah.

Focus on your dreams and goals, sister, in small steps. After you have tried the above and it still does not change things, I encourage you to focus on yourself and your parents and leave your brothers to Allah (swt).



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

10 Tips to Get Motivated & Overcome Laziness

How to Stop Being Lazy & Get Motivated

I Can’t Overcome Laziness & Overeating

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.