By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist
Edition: March 21, 2010 | Topic: Questions from readers
Question:I wonder if you would help a kid? Can you help me to get my 12-year-old brother to like me?
I’m 10 and he tells me all the time how much he hates me because I was born a girl. He tells me everything I do is awful or stupid, no matter how hard I try to please him. He calls me terrible names in front of my friends that make fun of my being a girl like, “Little bra.” I just don’t know how I can live in my house after I get my period. I dread it! Sometimes I think my life will be over!
My brother is so mean, and not just to me. He fights with other boys. He kills birds and other animals while he laughs. He also starts fires on people’s porches to scare them (grownups). When he gets really made at me, he says he’s going to take off my clothes in front of his friends. I get frightened and run to lock myself in the bathroom. When I try to tell my parents, they yell at me for being a tattletale or for crying over spilled milk.
I asked my priest what to do and he said to “pray.” I say a rosary for him every day and even lit a novena for a week. But even God doesn’t listen. I know if I just got my brother to like me, he would be nice to me and I could get him to be nice to other people and the animals and not start fires anymore. So what should I do? All I do is cry, and bat my head against the wall, and cry more and more.
Answer:The problem is not how to get your brother to like you, but rather how to get professional help for your brother. The things he is doing are not normal. Killing animals, starting fires, and threatening to undress you are all signs that he has a serious mental problem. His problems have nothing to do with you. You are not at fault.
You did the right thing in speaking with your priest and to your mom, but they both gave you bad advice. If you told them the things you told me, they should have recognized that this is a serious problem that requires them to do something other than advise you to pray or to stop being a tattletale. They made a mistake. They may not have understood the seriousness of your brother’s problems.
You now need to be strong enough to ask for the help of another adult. How about the mom or dad of a good friend or a teacher at school? Please be sure that you tell the adult all the things that you wrote in the letter so that your brother will get the help he needs before he hurts anyone seriously.
Please write me back and let me know how things worked out.
Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/drgregramey
©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.
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