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Recently, I found my brother's stash of alcohol in the basement while looking for some paint. I told my mom about it, and she took care of it and decided to have a talk with him once he gets back from his trip.

However, I just went snooping through my brother's room (for like 15 seconds) and in his mini fridge I found even more beer. He is underage (15) and I don’t want to get in trouble or lose his trust because I was looking through his personal belongings.

I’m very concerned about him. I don’t want him to hurt himself, but I don’t know how to tell my mom. How do I tell my mom what I found without having my brother hate me or get in trouble?

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    Hello, and welcome to IPS.SE! I think it would be useful to know how old are you. Also, what is your final goal? To be sure he's not hurting himself, to inform your mother about his alcohol consumption, ...? – LinuxBlanket Jun 15 '18 at 23:58
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    Is it out of the question that you do not tell your mom? – Randolph Carter Jun 16 '18 at 17:31
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    I dont think this can be safely answered until we know the age of OP. Very different answers for different ages. – Joe S Jun 21 '18 at 18:14
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First off, stop snooping. I know you're concerned, but it's not your job to keep an eye on your brother, it's your mom's.

I've been in all three spots over the years. I've been the concerned brother, I've been the under aged drinker, and I've been the parent dealing with two teenage siblings...

When I was in your shoes, I got a little worried about my brother's partying. It ended up being much ado about nothing, just a phase that he grew out of, but I was worried about him and I didn't want to get him in trouble. When I was the underage drinker, my other brother was worried about my partying, and well, to be honest he had reasons to be. I was getting into stuff I shouldn't have been getting into. As a parent I had to weigh the concerns, accusations, and other things the kids brought up, because while I was aware that they could be worried about each other, I was also aware that they weren't above trying to get each other in trouble.

So here's how I'd play it. Talk to your mom if you're legitimately concerned about your brother's health and safety, you don't necessarily need to rat him out about the beer, just mention that you're worried about him. Like I said above, it's your mom's job to be the parent and keep an eye out for these things, particularly if she's already had to talk with him about this. Let the parent be the parent.

But again, stop snooping, it's not your job and it'll likely mess up your relationship with your brother.

  • Also, stop triangulating. Triangulating is when you talk to a persons to fix another person's behavior. It never goes well, even if (in this case) your Mom is the "right" person to raise your brother. If you have a problem with someone, talking directly to them is a skill that will get you better results (but I wouldn't count on getting results just based on the age I estimate your brother to be). Of course, if it is so bad that you might not have a brother, bring in outside help (your Mom, receptive friends, etc) but if it's just undesirable behavior, let him know how it's affecting you. – Edwin Buck Mar 12 at 12:44
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How can you tell her? First, you have to make a choice from three options.

A) Tell the truth.
B) Make up a story that sounds plausible, and lie your heart out.
C) Decide not to say anything to her.

Option B) always seems the most attractive. I used to take that option a lot. I was a snoop, a liar, a thief, and a cheat (with board games and card games). I can tell you, that going down road B) will never make you feel good inside about yourself. I'm secretly hoping you don't choose B).

That leaves A) and C). If you are going to tell the truth, be completely honest. There is no good reason why you went snooping, so acknowledge that fact. Own that you did something that you know was wrong. You owe your brother an apology for snooping, whether you admit it or not.

I am hoping that whether you choose option A) or C), you will see that snooping only leads to internal turmoil. Learn from this if you can. In future, whenever you get that cheeky, excited urge to snoop? Remember this. It was not worth it.

If you choose Option C), you will still know deep inside that you owe your brother an apology, and that your mother would want to know what you know. If you take this option, be very careful that your guilty feelings don't turn into resentment. Sometimes when we feel guilty inside about something, we sort of 'blame' the other people and turn the guilt into resentment... like you could resent your brother for having the beer, and your mother because you find it hard to open up to her. If you go down path C), make sure that when you find yourself overreacting and feeling overly angry at them, you acknowledge that it is actually about "the beer in the fridge".

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First off, don't snoop. Beyond a certain age, and your brother is getting close to that age, a person should be allowed to pursue their life however they see fit. They don't need a policeman to plow through their stuff.

If your brother finds out you told your mother, you will have broken trust, and that is very hard to recover from. He may end up mistrusting you for a very long time.

I will suggest another option. Tell him you went into his room for a simple reason and spotted the beer. And then say - if I saw it, Mom can see it, too, so you might want to find a less obvious place to keep it.

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