I'm a 17 year old student, in their last year of high school and under shared custody of my parents. I have 2 siblings, a 14 year old sister and a 16 year old brother. For nearly my whole life, I've had no problems with my parents. I feel like I skipped the naughty teenager phase, I never went to crazy parties, I've never even drunk (which seems to be especially rare in Australia) Next year I'll be heading to Uni and my grades are good.

My brother is the opposite in every way. We used to go to the same school, until he moved to another school starting year 9. Ever since he was introduced to a new crowd there, he has been in a steady decline. His grades were never perfect, but since changing schools they got worse, and at the end of last year decided to drop out of school and do an apprenticeship. This would have been promising, however he changed his mind and decided to back to school. Now he is in year 11, and has already given up school again after less than a term of it.

I don't know for sure about drug habits etc. (Though I'm almost positive he's experienced it once at least), but the only thing my family can agree on is that his friends are a big factor in this. Late January, after coming home from a holiday trip to Queensland with our, he sneaked out of the house to go to our mum's house. I can't remember if it was actually to see his girlfriend or other friends, but he would claim he had to because our father is abusive to him. In reality, he is spoiled and can't handle having to clean a dish. But opinions aside, he hasn't gone back to our dads house since, and whilst we continue to go there for half the week every week he refuses to move.

Now that he's placed himself permanently at our mother's house, he has started going out incredibly often and spends more time out of the house than in it. Whether it be in the city or down the road we never know, because mum never asks and he would never tell. On some of the occasions we do know, we only found out through letters and phone calls from the police.

This brings me to my mother, who is a nurse working night shifts at a hospital and days at a botox clinic. This busy schedule means she is out of home just as often as my brother, but the difference is she doesn't get to relax when she gets home. My brother has become her primary focus, but she is quickly running out of ideas. No matter how much help she tries to get him in regards to an education and career paths, he brushes it away because he can't be bothered.

I on the other hand, am at home a lot. Apart from school, and the half of the week I'm at my father's, I spend all my time at home. Throughout highschool my social life was low down in my priorities, as life got messy with a divorce and both parents moving house. As a result I'm never out at parties, I have barely any reason to leave the house. So instead of socialising I ended up taking the role of the second parent, mainly at my mother's. As my brother got worse, I got angrier and started trying to punish him, which made both my brother and mother get annoyed at me. It usually ends up in me looking like the obnoxious kid.

As of now I've given up trying to fix him, I've accepted there's nothing I can do, but I still think my mother can do more. Given her lack of discipline and the way she will see him play with an RC car and think he's destined to be an engineer, I've determined she's in a bit of denial about him. She isn't accepting that he is not shooting straight at all, and that given his current streak he would be lucky to only go to juvi. I've tried suggesting to her that he needs discipline immediately, or better yet 4 years ago, but she usually avoids the topic or just says she doesn't have enough time, she's too tired, etc. All of these reasons are legitimate and I'm not arguing them, and I don't even know for sure that discipline is the solution. I'm aware that as a 17 year old I won't quite have the parenting experience of my mother, who has raised 4 kids in her life. However, I feel that no amount of experience can help you to raise a 16 year old ADHD child on your own when you only have face to face contact with him 2 days a week total, plus two other kids. It doesn't help that my sister is a whole other situation, she's been spoiled her whole life and if I were to be honest is almost as bad as my brother, but in a different way. I could write up a whole question about her but I'll keep this on topic.

I know this is more of a narrative than a question and I don't even know if this belongs here, but I'm just desperate to know what to do to get my brother to stop being the reckless teen he is, what my mum should do, or even what my brother should do.

  • Helping family past some point is almost impossible. The emotional ties make it really difficult to do anything. Finding someone out of the house is your best bet.
    – MakorDal
    Commented May 17, 2016 at 8:23

3 Answers 3


As I see it, you can do all of the following:

  • Talk to your brother. Tell him that you are worried he will make a mess of his life. And ask him if you can help. If he does not want to listen, you've done all you can do there. Very likely he will be unable to escape the influence of his friends on his own.

  • Talk to your mother and father. Explain your worries. Again, if they don't want to listen, you've done your best. But maybe your father worries, too, and is willing to try and talk to his son, or your mom, or to take the third step with you.

  • You (with or without your parents) can go to your city's or district's family services. I don't know how this works in Australia or what it might be called, but all civilized countries have a gouvernment institution that takes care of children and minors if the parents aren't up to the task. Talk to them. Explain your family situation, how your brother has taken a self-destructive path, how your mother is unable to handle the situation, and that your father cannot, because it is your mom's house, and ask them for advice. If they are half good, they will take a look, and if they are not stupid, they will know what to do. Which will probably involve some kind of psychotherapy for your brother (to help him deal with his ADHS, if that is what he has, and to help him make better decisions) and maybe family therapy for the rest of you. If the situation is worse than you know, this institution will take your brother to a foster family or whatever the government does with almost-criminal kids in your country. This may sound like the worst thing to happen, but with a neglectful mother and drugs in the game, it often helps those that aren't too far in the netherworld back on track.

  • If none of this helps or plays out as you hope, then the final best thing you can do is to live your own life well and remain open to your brother if ever he should decide to take up your offer of help, but you also need to let him make his own decisions and not let it affect you too much.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer, there's a lot of info but I particularly like the family therapy idea maybe with my brother. And I'll try talk to everyone, I've thought about it but being the 'brick' in the family I've found it hard expressing emotion. I'll find a way though.
    – FaceySmile
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 22:08

I feel for your mom, you, and your family.

"she doesn't have enough time, she's too tired, etc"

all that stuff is real - i feel it every day. However, it is not an excuse (we all succumb to it though). Facing those realities takes patience and honesty.

Talk to your mother and simply explain how serious your brothers situation is in your opinion. All you can do is educate her on the seriousness of his behavior. You can't do much else, after that it is up to your mother to find a way to handle it and decide if that is more important than getting rest and maintaining sanity in what must be a very emotional situation (family life where it is).

Concerning your brother I suggest 3 simple things:

1) Accept you cannot change him, only he can change himself
2) Let him know you are worried and care about where he is
3) Keep an open door for when he wants to make a change or reach out

Other people are not and will not be what we want - I can't even do that for myself, I hope you're better than I am. Either way, just express your concern and keep lines of communication open. You be a good example so whenever your brother wants to change he can reach out to you as an example and friend.

Good luck,

  • Thanks, I value both these answers alot but I ticked the other one just because it was first. I'll try to get that across to her, she has never liked it in the past but it's l can do as you say. And I will definitely make sure there's an open door for him, one thing I worry about is him literally running away or worse succumbing to depression.
    – FaceySmile
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 22:14

Siblings often form their roles in reaction to each other. Since you are filling the "perfect child" slot, your brother has taken over the "problem child" slot --that's a fairly common pattern.

I would advise you to remember you are not his parent, and with only a one-year age gap between you, you cannot fill a parental role, nor should you try. Given the dynamic between the two of you, that can only make things worse. I can guarantee it's not helping your mother out either.

You should concentrate on living your own life --getting out of the house more and being more social. Once you move away to University, and you and your brother are no longer under the same roof, I predict your relationship with him will improve dramatically.

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