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My younger brother 16 is leaving with me, it's been two years now He is like every teenager likes to have fun, discover things and get friends. I kept him on the line, safe and sound.

We argue sometimes, I punish him for bad things he does sometimes and others I just let them slide

I love him so much like he is my son not just my brother. I treat him like my friend, talk to him, have time with him( play, watch a movie, Friday evening, watching succer and basketball), solve problems together, listen to him.

I'm here to ask help, yesterday, my guy skipped his last class because his girlfriend called him desperate to see him So he went to her, she was upset because her grandma dead and she wanted to see him before moving away He stayed with her probably two hours when he is supposed to be at home just an hour ago

I got worried sick, the problem that i was calling him but his phone was switched off and checking his place on Gps but I couldn't find him. I called all his friends, my friends, the school, my neighbors I was freaking out until he called me.

I picked him up from the park and took him to the house, he explained what happened, but I was too angry to solve anything with him so I just sent him to his room

I didn't talk to him because I don't know what should I do and how to punish him. But the way he skipped school several times before but he didn't come late, I talked with him at the first time, warned him at the second time then punished him in every times he does it again

I gave him chores, I confiscated his electronic stuff, there's one time when I gave him a spanking ( he endangered himself in that time) but now, I don't know what to do I'm 24 yo male and worked as a software engineer

2 Answers 2

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Right, as an older brother and as a father, I can appreciate your concern for your brother and for wanting to see him make good choices.

However, I think you need to walk back from the reflex to seek "punishment" for to behaviour that you do not think is good for him. There are two key objectives to keep in view - communication, and boundaries.

Communication

It's great that you already have a positive, communicative relationship with your brother. That's a great start. You're both in the age range and stage where we men tend to be terrible at communication, and we don't tend to look far outside of ourselves, and so it might take a lot of work to keep fostering that type of communication over the years ahead.

You said that as he tried to explain himself, you were too angry to deal with it - it's great that you can recognise that. When you notice that about yourself or him, that's the time to take a break, calm down, and then reattempt the conversation. Listen to him, relate to him, understand where he's coming from. Get his buy-in that you understand what he's done - if you can get there - and the rest of the conversation is much easier.

Set Clear Boundaries

Whilst I appreciate the view that your brother is nearly a legal adult, if he's 16 and already in your care, then I would venture to suggest that his (your?) parents were not able (for better or worse) to provide him the types of structured boundaries that kids need to thrive and feel safe. In many ways you're probably both dealing with that reality too, and so that will be weighing on any situation.

So, though it's not your fault that he is where he is, you're in charge of boundaries. Boundaries are positive things - they're safety fences to help us build a strong and safe life, the ideological opposite to punishments, which are there to make us feel bad. You've not had the full 16 years of parenting experience in setting those boundaries, so it's totally understandable that it'll take some practice to catch up.

Think through a short list of realistic and fair boundaries for him, for example:

  • Under what circumstances do you expect him to contact you?
  • What time should he go to sleep by and be up by, on weekdays and weekends?
  • In what ways does he need to share in or contribute to the upkeep of the house?

These should be positive things that have a clear reason and are for his good. Stepping over them should have simple, fair consequences that are known in advance. Perhaps the WiFi gets switched off, or he has to do extra chores. Perhaps he's unable to go out for a set number of days.

Conclusion

So you want to have a frank and positive conversation, understand where he's coming from and how he's feeling. Once you've reestablished positive regard and respect for each other, explain what your hopes for his life are, explain the boundaries you think would help him in this age and stage, and explain what the consequences will be for crossing them.

Perhaps for this occasion give him an 'easy' token consequence, or waive the consequence as a gesture of goodwill. Set things off on the best foot for the next occasion. Especially given that his 'fault' was a kind thing he wanted to do for somebody he cares about - that's something to affirm and encourage, because that will make a good man out of him!

All in all the job you're trying to do is care for him emotionally and physically, as well as set him up for success in future. You want to teach him how to care for himself and set good boundaries for himself before he's responsible for doing that.

All in all, you love him and want the best for him. And that's got to be the key message that sets the context for whatever you need to do to help him live his best life.

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  • Thank you very much ❤️
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 8:21
  • You are so helpful, I appreciate it. I will set boundaries with him. I really care about him and I want to make it up to him
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 8:25
  • I talked with him again, and he just apologized, didn't act stubborn like when i confront him, I'm really proud of him that he wanted to help his girlfriend but at least he could've given me a little call maybe a text, even if he knew that skipping school would make him in trouble.
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 8:35
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    Thanks @Ben - glad this was helpful. You're both so fortunate to have each other, and it's great that you're able to have open and honest conversations like this without stubbornness and confrontation. Keep building on that foundation, you both sound like you'll go far. Do feel free to mark either of these answers as Accepted if you feel like your question has been adequately resolved. Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 13:54
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First of all, it's great that you care for your brother and that you want him to safe.

Your brother is 16 and in less than two years he will be a legal adult. That means he has to learn to make good decisions for himself, and he needs to learn it quickly. It sounds a bit that you mostly want him to do what you tell him. That's well intended but that's not going to work in the long run.

Your goal at this point should be to help him make good decisions and work through the occasional bad ones that he's going to make (that's how people learn). You should stop making decisions for him and telling him what to do.

Punishing is not the way to go here. It's not going to help and will make both of you upset and resentful. Instead talk through what happened what you both feel was good and bad about it, what where the consequences of the bad stuff, etc. You may end up disagreeing but unless there are dire consequences (damage to people or damage to property), let him make his own choices and experience the result of this choices.

In this particular case, it sounds like your brother DID THE RIGHT THING. His girlfriend lost her grandma. He went over to support and comfort her as any good boyfriend should. He probably switched off his phone because he knew you would be yelling at him and he felt his girlfriend was more important than getting home on time. I do agree with him.

If he had called you, what would you have said? A) "Thanks for letting me know, it's great that you are supporting your girlfriend, please let her and her family know that I'm very sorry for their loss. When do you think you will home?" or B) "What the heck are you doing? It's xxx o'clock, you must come home". In this case A is the right answer and B is the wrong one.

He stayed with her probably two hours when he is supposed to be at home just an hour ago

So what? What was the actual problem and consequence of him being late.

I called all his friends, my friends, the school, my neighbors I was freaking out until he called me.

Unless you live in an extremely dangerous neighborhood you need to ease up. A 16 year old should be capable to move around freely on his own without constant tracking.

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  • I would have chosen A, I'm so proud of him that he was being a good boyfriend. His girlfriend needed him and he prioritized her feelings, which is a sweet thing that he did for her. He is going to be a reliable man and a real gentleman .... He freaked me out, the world not safe those days anything could happen so I would appreciate if he gave me a call before
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 15:31
  • Or wait until he finishes his last class and goes to her, skipping classes and missing lessons not good for his future. I was going to punish him for skipping class not for helping his girl and being late.... I was 16 few years ago so i know what he is dealing with... And I don't raise my voice at him, i didn't do that in my life, we just argued calmly .
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 15:38
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    Sorry, I may have been a bit too harsh here: you do a wonderful thing for your brother and it's something you can hopefully be proud of. The thing is: part of raising someone else is learning how to let go. This is very difficult since you love them and want them to be safe and happy. But they need to become self sufficient & responsible adults in the end. The best way to get there is to give them space and let them make their own mistakes while you are still there to help and support. It's hard but it's worth it !
    – Hilmar
    Commented Dec 12, 2021 at 22:33
  • Thanks, I got the point, you are right
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 13, 2021 at 1:29

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