How can I help my rebellious 15 year old brother?


Hi, I'm a 20 year old girl with a 15 year old younger brother who is going down the wrong path. He drinks, smokes, curses, hangs out with his friends most of the time and doesn't take his schoolwork seriously. He's repeating 9th grade because he failed two classes last year, but he's still slacking off and getting bad grades. He stays over his friend's house during the weekends and usually doesn't come home until Sunday (since he has school on Monday). I tried talking to him, and offer to help him with homework and stuff, but I really don't know what to do with him. I try to show him love, but sometimes I lose my patience with him. Two days ago (on Sunday) he finally came home. It snowed a lot so he was stuck at his friend's house. My dad saw him, just exploded, and hit him. My dad told him to stay at home and not go anywhere, even though my brother's friend was waiting outside. After my dad left, my brother left the house to go to the mall with his friends and to see his girlfriend. I tried to stop him and talk to him, but he pushed me out of the way and left. I told him his girlfriend wouldn't solve his problems, he would only forget about them when he was with her. He was crying a little bit. I followed him out, and he gave me a short hug before he ran off.

I'm scared that he's not going to come home. It snowed a lot, so he has a two week winter break that's not over until January. It's almost Christmas, and I wish things could be different. My parents divorced when I was 11 (he was 6) and now my dad has a new wife (his second) and her two kids live with us. My brother doesn't get along or try to talk to them, but is always on the computer or on my cellphone (he doesn't have one) to talk to his friends whenever he's at home.

I've been praying for my brother and trying to talk to him for a long time. What should I do now?


It sounds like you are doing about as much as you can. There isn't a solution to this problem because you are on the side-lines looking on. You are causing the problems, nor do you have the authority to force a solution to the problems.

Let's talk a moment regarding what is happening. It is clear that your father is a poor parent. He is inconsistent in setting rules and doesn't enforce them. He doesn't do much until things build up beyond what he can tolerate, and then he lashes out. This is exactly the situation the Scriptures warn against. "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

Teenagers, especially teenage boys, do better when the rules and consequences are clear and consistent. Even when a rule is unreasonable, if a child knows what is expected and what happens when it is violated, he gets comfort from the predictability. Your brother is missing this in his life.

Because of the divorce, he felt rejected by his mother. His father married another woman, who because she has her own children, left he feeling like a visitor in what should have been his own home. Your father, because he wants to please his new wife, puts more emphasis on her children than his own. Your brother's teenage moodiness just weakens the relationship further.

Few can live this way. Your brother has found a substitute "family" in his friends and his girlfriend. If he is like most, he is sexually involved with the girl. Odds are that he is doing drugs as well. You pegged the reason accurately. He sees nothing but strife and problems at home, but he can forget them while high and with others. With them he feels needed, wanted, and appreciated.

While he loves you and sees you as a fellow sufferer, he also sees you as supporting the "enemy" because you often take their side. It doesn't matter that you are right.

About all you can do is listen to him. Talk about things that interest him. Be honest with him. Tell him when you disagree, but also let him know when you think he is right. Allow yourself to be anchor of stability in his life. When he is doing wrong. Don't support him in the error. When he is doing right, go out of your way to cheer him on.

Likely he is going to get himself into deep trouble. Hopefully enough to alert him to the dangers, but not so bad as to ruin his life. If he wants to talk to me, I will be happy to do so, but I won't hold my breath. He likely will reject things he doesn't see as being his own idea.

Thank you for your response. I messaged my brother online yesterday telling him that I love him, that he can contact me if he needs me, etc. He replied thanking me for the support but didn't say anything about coming home, and said that he hasn't been smoking or drinking lately (which is a lie according to his myspace profile). I talked to other people about this, and they said to keep praying and showing him love. I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I'm going to have to trust God.

If your brother is like most, sadly, things will get a lot worse for him. There is really only one way out and it isn't the easiest of routes.

I agree that showing him love is necessary, but most use "love" as a reason to ignore the problems. You must have very firm ideas regarding right and wrong behavior. You have to love your brother more than he loves himself. When he wants your support in doing wrong, you have to demonstrate your love toward him by telling him, "No!" Those won't go over well with him. When he does what is right, then you give him a hand. Very slowly that will shape him.

Drug abuse, by its very nature, teaches the abuser to become skilled liars. This is particularly hard for Christians to deal with since we strongly prefer to trust others. It means he is likely going to try to use his relationship with you to his advantage in the future. You need to be on guard against it. If you aren't careful you can easily get pulled into his world of misery.

What I hope is that things get to the point that he realizes he is getting nowhere fast and wants out. That is when you can offer him the best help, to find him the help he needs and may want in the future.

He is luckier than he realizes to have a sister who cares for him as you do.