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Parenting --Teens/My brother is tearing our family apart.


Dear Doctor,

My family is facing some terrible issues with my brother. He is 19 years old. My brother is the kind of people who doesn t communicate much with our family. After getting his high school diploma, he enrolled in a school in which according to him was a very bad experience. Now, we found out that he didnt pass his exams and he withdrawed from it without telling anybody. My brotherůs relationship with my mum is very bad. Their only interractions end up with huge fights describing how my brother is frustarated how he is always blaming people for his failures. How can we improve first his personality to turn into a person that is responsable and that thinks about the consequences of his acts because due to his fights my mum is always cring and she has heart and other health problems so she cannot handle any of this? How can we deal with him?

Thank you

Hello Isabelle,

You seem like a loving sister who is truly concerned about your brother and your family.

I think it is very difficult to change a member of the family, especially one who is still an adolescent. You may have a chance to influence him if you have a positive relationship with him. You did not say that you have a close and positive relationship with him, so I assume you don't have such a relationship.

You can talk to him and ask him if there is anything you can do to help him with his life -- both in and out of the family. If he says no, then you may not be able to provide him any help. Of course, if he says yes then you can listen to what he thinks you could do to help him. In the long run, maybe all you can really do to help him is to let him know that you believe in him, you think he will turn out to be a credit to the family and to himself, and that you will always be available any time he needs help from you. By offering this kind of support, you are saying you will be there when ever he needs you. You can't "parent" him or be his therapist, but you can offer support and be willing to listen if he wants to talk about his problems.

Many young people around your brother's age are still very immature in their behavior and in their thinking. In a few years, he may grow up considerably and be a much more responsible person.

If you have further questions, please get back to me.

James Windell

Parenting --Teens

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James Windell


I am a parent trainer, psychotherapist, and author specializing in parenting issues.During the past 40 years I`ve worked with parents with discipline problems and challenging children. I give frequent lectures and workshops related to discipline, social skills, and aggressive children. I consult with various agencies and schools where there are child behavior problems. I am listed in the American Psychological Associations` media panel as an expert on parenting and am frequently quoted in leading magazines and newspapers.


I have worked in a juvenile court as a clinical psychologist and as a psychotherapist in private practice. In the Oakland County (MI) Juvenile Court, I developed an award-winning parent training program for parents of adolescent delinquents. In addition I have done group therapy with adolescent delinquents using a social skills-building model. I have consulted with courts, schools, churches, preschools, and domestic violence shelters in areas of parenting.

I received my BA with a major in Psychology in 1963 from Wayne State University. I got my MA in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University in 1972.

I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Michigan Psychological Association. I have written pamplets, newspaper articles, and professional journal articles. I have been the Coping With Kids columnist for several newspapers for 26 years, and my columns appear weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been the author or co-author of 16 books. My books include, 8 WEEKS to A WELL-BEHAVED CHILD, CHILDREN WHO SAY NO WHEN YOU WANT THEM TO SAY YES, 6 STEPS TO AN EMOTIONALLY INTELLIGENT TEENAGER, and THE FATHERSTYLE ADVANTAGE. My most recent parenting book (2012) is THE EVETYTHING CHILD PSYCHOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT BOOK. I have appeared on over 180 radio and TV shows related to my books and parenting. For more information about me, my books and columns, go to my website at

I have an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University.

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