Distressed in Dallas

01/12/2011 07:34

So here's the issue. I'm 23 and have a little brother whose 10 yrs younger than me. My mom and dad split last year or so and ever since things have been hard for him. I no longer live at home but he still lives with my mom. My dad lives in Houston with his fiancée and one of my sisters. My other sister lives up here with my mom but will be off to college by the end of this school year. Anywho, my brother is having issues in school, stress at home and is wanting/needing a change. He could go live with my dad and some of the stress might be lifted and it would be a new school however he doesn't like my dad's fiancée nor our sister that is living with my dad.

I live with my fiancée and his family. We moved in with his parents because his dad was in the hospital…so we moved in to help him and his wife.

I guess my question really stems down to what should I do? Things are coming to a breaking point with my little brother that I feel if he keeps going on the path that he is on, he will wind up in the looney bin or dead. I want to take him in and have him live with us, but not really sure if that is an option and worried what would happen if I tried. I love my little brother A LOT and I'm concerned for not only his education but his mental and physical well being. -- Distressed in Dallas

 What Mary Says...  What Crystal Says...

Dear Distressed:

It's so nice of you to even consider having your little brother move in with you. I will tell you what someone told me 10 years ago when I was considering taking in my troubled niece: they'll never turn out the way you want them to, they'll do what they want.

I took that to mean that even if I provided a loving, stable home, the child would still have a mind and will of his/her own.

Kids are more resilient and stronger than a lot of people give them credit for. You say he's 10 years younger so he's 13 ... that's a tough age. I'm willing to bet that a lot of his behavior is just him growing up. Remember 13 and the early teen years? They were awful.

When I was 12 my family had just splintered apart and I hated everyone and everything. I was moody, miserable, bitchy and yelled at my mother. Nothing could go right. Nothing was right. The only thing I wanted to do was talk on the phone in my room and write maudlin rants in my journal. I will say this: no matter how bitchy my exterior was, when someone who I knew loved me took the time to ask me how I was or just hang out, it really helped.

Be there for your brother even if he just sits in the car with his arms crossed glaring out the window. When he really needs someone he'll turn to you.




































Dear Distressed:

First, I want to commend you. Your concerns over your brother’s well being are selfless and should be applauded. He is already 100% better off for having a sister who loves and cares for him so much.

Now, should you take him in? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Your letter doesn’t disparage your parents. That leads me to believe he isn’t facing some sort of physical or emotional abuse that would mandate he get out. This is good news and it means your brother might just be, well, a 13-year-old. Now before you go, “but my brother’s different,” hear me out. Boys at 13 harbor rocket ship souls. They’re confined by their bodies when what they really want to do is to run, to hunt… to discover the very essence of life. They breathe change devoid of oxygen, and they thrive on newness.  But on the fringes of this need for life’s transformation is the beast of contrarianism, i.e. everything sucks.

When my nephew was 13, he and his parents moved nearby. Mostly, he was a sheltered kid – two intact parents, a stay-at-home mom, involved in music and even went to church. And then one day, he’s got all this drama. Not REAL drama in the sense of having to work to put food on the table, but teenager drama. All of the sudden this smart, A/B student was flunking. He got into fights everywhere – at school, on the bus, in his neighborhood. He was convinced he was a “weird” and decided his counter was to be eccentric. Soon, being liked by strangers carried more weight than being liked be his family and friends and, failing to be popular, he threw up a brick wall. He would actually stay in the basement for days playing video games except to come up and eat. He looked everywhere and at everything and found fault. Said he hated it here and wanted to get away. Everything was tainted, soured, stale.

Now, my nephew didn’t just suck. With contrarianism comes idealism, a beautiful force that is the backbone of every major human movement worth a damn since life’s inception. The romanticism of what should be is what changes the world and if we didn’t have the idealism of youth, we would suffer as a species. The problem with thinking this way is it makes everything around you appear dim, unnoteworthy. And if this is what your brother is facing, you could move him to the top of porn mountain and he’d find himself wanting.

If there is no abuse at home, the best advice I could give you is for you to just be there for your brother. Call him to go to a movie. Take him to dinner. Just the two of you. Even if he doesn’t speak a word, even if he complains that the food sucked and the movie was lame, deep down in the part of the brain he refuses to recognize he’ll appreciate it. Because the state of idealism is only large enough for one. As such, it is a very lonely place. So for teenagers living there, knowing someone on the outside gives a damn, a real damn, is the thing that keeps them tethered to life. And it could be the one solid piece of reality that keeps your brother sane in his coming of age topsy-turvy reality.

P.S. If there IS abuse at home, get him out now.



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