Counseling/sibling issue


QUESTION: Its a long story but ill make it short. Its about sibling rivalry.Just trying to give u a clear idea with the extra detail.So about 3 years ago my older brother (28) and his wife (27) bought a small farm of 75 acres. There farm is beautiful but it required a lot of work and there still working on clearing trees off their property when they can afford it. They had to buy a house to put on it, they built a shed, and their about to have a second baby.. I am 24 year old women. I live at home and go to college full time. I also am interested in farm life due to the fact we were both raised on my dad and moms farm. Any way there is a 80 acre piece of property right down the road from his that is for sale that I plan on buying. I was going to keep it a secret until I actually owned it just incase things didn't work out for me. well my brother and his wife found out and they said if I buy it they'll never speak to me again, that I was stealing it out from under them, that I am a chicken "s**t", and if I don't have a contract on it they'll run the bid up so it will be expensive for me, just a lot of hateful things. I was aware that they wanted the property someday but they were also aware that I wanted the property as well. So about three months ago I asked my brother what he thought of me buying it he said I quote, "me and her don't care as long as we get better neighbors". Well unsurprisingly he denies saying that to me. Anyway, it is causing a big family war. He and his wife are threatening my parents and other brothers that if I buy the land than nobody is aloud to see our nephew again or be on there property. I live at home I own 2 horses and 20 cows on rented ground. So I was super excited to know I get the opportunity to purchase 80 acres 7 miles from my parents house and start my own life. now I'm curious if I am doing the right thing. Am I wrong to purchase this property 1 mile down the rode from my brothers farm when he to apparently wanted to buy it someday? I need an opinion from someone who doesn't know either one of us.

ANSWER: Hi, Lesli.  No doubt, this is a ticklish situation.  On one hand, purchasing the land allows you to "start" your own life; on the other hand, it creates animosity between you and your brother and his wife.  I don't think this is a question of right or wrong; I think it's more a practical question of what's more important to you: ownership of the land or preserving the relationship with your brother and his wife.  I suppose ethically and probably legally, you have every right to purchase the land.  Option one is doing so knowing full well that it will result in conflict with your brother and probably a severing of ties.  You could take the chance and hope that in the future when the dust settles, your brother will eventually come around.  Only you know how strong the relationship is with him and whether the bonds can survive in the long term.  The other option, is to pursue your goal of starting your own life and having that property and farm but to look for a possibility beyond this property.  It's a big country and there's a lot of land to be had and I'm sure there are properties that will suit your purposes as well and at the same time preserve the relationship. If you choose the latter, I would suggest letting your brother know that the relationship with him is more important to you.  Obviously I can't tell you what to do, but can only advise you of your options and possible consequences.  Joel

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QUESTION: I appreciate the time you took to answer me. Its nice hearing something other than my families opinion One other concern i have is not being able to find a piece as cheap as i am purchasing this property.I dont truly understand why he is so offended by this. Me and my brother have not had a good relationship hardly at all and really didn't previous to me wanting to buy this land. I hate seeing it cause conflict but i SO BADLY want it. Its my dream and its sitting in the palm of my hand. I honestly was hoping they would eventually just get over it. I'm having a hard time understanding why he feels he is more deserving than i am and why he is trying to make me feel so guilty about this. I have mixed emotions. the rest of my family says to ignore him that he will get over it that he is being selfish. It is  big country and I am sure their are other pieces. I just don't know what to do. I was so very excited about the purchase until about 5 days ago when they found out everyone was happy about it but them. Something else that is weird is he is helping our other brother purchase 50 acres that is right next to what i am wanting. Why is it OK for my other brother to have land their but not me? If it were u in his spot would you be angry?

Lesli, yes, people are irrational and do irrational things.  The bottom line is if you want the land so badly and you're willing to accept your brother's animosity, then that's the direction you should go.  We can speculate from now to forever about why he is doing what he is doing; that doesn't change the reality.  Joel


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Joel Simon


General questions about counseling, psychotherapy and mental health.


Over 30 years as a therapist, clinical supervisor and solution-focused trainer. I've worked in a variety of settings including adolescent day treatment, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, community mental health clinics, and hospice. Further information is available on my website:

A founding member of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association, Academy of Certified Social Workers, Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in New York State.

Co-authored "Solution-Focused Brief Practice With Long-Term Clients in Mental Health Services: I'm More Than My Label." Authored: "Solution-Focused Practice in End-of-Life and Grief Counseling" Several articles published in professional journals including 2 with Insoo Kim Berg. Further details are available at

Masters of Social Work (Yeshiva University 1978). 5 years training in Transactional Analysis, certified in Advanced Ericksonian Psychotherapy and Hypnosis with the New York Society (NYSEPH), Advanced training and advanced supervision seminar in solution-focused brief therapy with the co-developers of the approach, Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer

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