Talk to your brother

My brother and I were only kids when our parents died. We were raised by an uncle but he is not doing well, so I’ve had to find work to keep my younger brother in school. I put my own studies on hold because of my job but my brother doesn’t seem to take his studies seriously. He dodges school and instead hangs out at local pubs playing pool. I’ve tried to talk to him but he has become so rebellious that I do not know what to do with him.
Please advise.
Samson

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I must commend you greatly for taking the initiative to pay your brother’s school tuition after the death of your parents. You’re making a great sacrifice by working to keep your brother in school. Unfortunately, your brother, just like many teenagers, has a very high level of defiance and arrogance, and takes things for granted. Your case is even worse as your brother seeks his own authority. While your aim is to protect his future, he feels he should take charge of his life and often perceives you as a threat to his freedom. He has no idea what the future holds for him without education. It is clear that you’re worried about your brother’s lack of interest in education. This is truly understandable, especially when you know the hassle of surviving in this contemporary world without any skills.    
 
As an adult and guardian, you need to apply good parenting skills, understand that he is going through adolescence — a stage in his life characterised by aggressiveness, emotional issues, resistance and self-esteem concerns. This is the stage during which minors try to form their own identity hence, rebellion. Fortunately, this stage is temporary and soon, he’ll be thankful for your role in helping him overcome this stage successfully. 
 
You need to first work on strengthening your sibling relationship and then approach him from a point of love and understanding.  Sit down with your brother and ask him what he wants to be in the future.  Don’t rebuke, nag or resent him. The idea is to soften defensiveness and let him substitute it with alliance. 
 
Be sure to inform him that his dream career will not be achieved through mediocrity, but determination and hard work, and that the amount of effort he puts in his studies will determine how far he’ll go.  
 
Tell him that he needs to work really hard to acquire specific skills which will help him fend for himself when he becomes an independent adult. 
 
Show him your willingness to help him transform into a responsible person by supporting him in his academic journey. 
 
If the situation gets out of hand, arrange for sessions with trusted family members and let them help you talk things through.  Approach his school counsellor and explain your worries. Counsellors are trained with skills that can help transform teenagers like your brother.  Also, by informing the school about his conduct, the school will pay attention to his behaviour and performance.  Nonetheless, if all your efforts seem futile, do not force him to change, rather, let him determine his own destiny because in the end, it is entirely up to him. 
 
Their thoughts...
 
Geoffrey Mugisha, University graduate 
 
This is common among minors, they tend to forget about their studies and get consumed with the life around them. Try to talk some sense into him. Remind him about the situation you are in. Tell him that only his studies will determine a bright future. 
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Jacky Kayitesi, university graduate 
 
Since your brother is rebellious and refuses to listen to you about his bad conduct, talk to his teachers and ask them to be strict on him regarding his studies. Teachers can help him gain interest in academics. It’s worth a try. 
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Vincent Kazubwenge, University student 
 
Don’t give up on your brother, he is the only family you have; adolescence is behind these poor life choices. Keep a close eye on him, and be more than just a sibling. It’s this friendship that will make him open up and listen to you. He needs you. 
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Tina Mutesi, Administrator 
 
Your brother might not listen to you since he takes you as a sibling and not a parent or guardian. My advice is that you talk to your uncle to have a conversation with him about his studies and behaviour. Your uncle is an adult, and can find a way to guide him. 
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