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My brother always hits me ... What should I do?


My brother always hits me when my parents arenít around. I always tell my parents, but they either donít believe me, or they take his side. What should I do?óChandler, 14, MD

Shayna Answers:

Dear Chandler,

Squabbles between siblings have always happened and always will. So it’s important to learn how to cope appropriately with these situations.

Think about it: Is your brother just messing around? Or is he actually trying to hurt you? There’s a difference. Play fighting is a part of sibling communication and is usually a form of endearment. However, real fighting can potentially hurt you, and it may indicate that your brother is experiencing a deeper problem.

You’re old enough to realize the role you play in a fight. Is your brother picking fights with you for no reason? Do they happen at any particular time? Can you identify specific incidences when he reacted to something you did? Is there a pattern in your brother’s behavior?

For example, if your brother is pummeling you without provocation the minute he gets home from school every day, there might be a school-related issue that he’s taking out on you because he feels he can. Now, if you repeatedly ignore his warnings to lower the volume on your stereo, he may be “helping” you understand his request.

You mentioned that your parents either don’t believe you, or they take your brother’s side when you tell them what’s happening. This suggests that they have a reason to trust his word over yours, or maybe you’re not telling the whole story.

If you’re throwing as many punches as he is and then whining about it to Mom and Dad, that’s probably going to be useless. Or, if you happen to be the older sibling and you’re complaining about an 8-year-old brother smacking you, your parents likely expect you to handle the situation better by giving him his own one-on-one time, locking your bedroom door when it’s unbearable, or going to a friend’s house.

Regardless of his age, your brother is probably capable of telling you what the real issue is. Ask him what’s up. You can find the biblical example of conflict resolution in Matthew 18:15-20. These verses say you are to first talk to the person who is wronging you before complaining to anyone else.

Your brother may not give you a straight answer, but try incorporating talking—not just fighting—into your relationship. Doing this lets your brother know it’s OK to communicate with you other than in a physical way. This is an opportunity for you to learn good conflict resolution skills that you’ll use throughout your life.

Most brothers communicate physically, and your brother may actually be trying to communicate his affection for you. One day you may be closer to your siblings than anyone else, so try to remember this and maintain a spirit of forgiveness, regardless of what happens.

If your brother is suffering with a deeper issue, be persistent in your reports to your parents. If they won’t listen and you’re in danger, you can also tell a teacher, guidance counselor, or your youth pastor. Otherwise, remember that as you grow up, so will your brother . . . somewhat.

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