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Hello. I am 21 and am the older sister, not the parent. I'm not sure if I should be getting involved in this issue but I feel my parents are making things worse and I need to step in for my brother's sake. I really need help because this is ripping my already broken family into smaller pieces.

I have divorced parents. It was a nasty break up and there have been several custody and child support battles that never stop. One of my brothers and I are already grown but I still have a 13 year old brother going through this mess. Since he was only 2 when my parents split he's only known the fighting and it has effected him mentally.

He has been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Which basically means he thinks everything needs to be argued. He refuses to do anything asked of him. When he's sent to his room he'll do whatever he can to push my mom's buttons or annoy anyone in the house. He'll do things like sit right outside his room or start making high pitched noises and bang on the wall. And this has been persistent for years. He truly is impossible. The problem is that he's already a teenager and most teenagers with ODD will grow into adulthood with this disorder. An adult with ODD cannot function in society. He'll still argue with anyone. How can a person like this hold a job if they'll continuously argue with their boss? This is serious!

My mom has been trying to put him in therapy but my dad keeps taking him out of therapy. My dad says the counselors all told him to take Wes(brother) out. My mom says the counselors never said that. With ODD the most important thing is to be consistent with discipline. The problem is that my parents have complete opposite parenting styles. My mom is extremely strict. My dad lets him do whatever he wants. They need to come together and work out the same rules at both households but they won't get along or agree on anything. Instead they are now about to get in another custody battle. My mom wants to take away visitation rights from my dad. My dad wants to take custody away from my mom. This is only going to make matters worse for my brother.

I am trying to convince my mom that taking my dad to court will only make things worse. At the same time, I'm trying to convince my dad to work with the therapist. But for once in my life they finally agreed on something: that I need to stay out of it... I just find it hard to step aside and let my parents ruin my little brother's life.
 

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Oh sweetie! I really feel for you and your brother. I seriously do not know what to say.......

Have your parents been to any parenting counseling after your brother was diagnosed with ODD?
You are absolutely right consistency is the key in teaching him practical life skills and integrate him into society. Why don't you go talk to the therapist and a social worker or counselor in your area who can advise you on other options in providing consistent care to your brother. I hope that your parents will realize the importance they play in their son's life and come together to help in succeed.
 

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First, I admire that you are so empathetic to your brother and his situation. People with ODD are not easy individuals to love and certainly don't always bring us to our most compassionate self. I hear you wanting to be pro-active and feeling a little stuck. You have encouraged your parents to act yet they are choosing a different path. So now what?

I wonder if you would consider building a positive relationship with your brother if that is not already in place?

Simply show him what it is like to have someone on his side. Children with ODD get soooo much negative feedback, frowns, expressions of frustration that this becomes their norm. It becomes actually uncomfortable for them to have an amicable discussion or have someone note the positive in them because it is so unfamiliar and feels untrue. Pulling out the negative emotions from others gives them an emotional connection which we all want but they forget what it feels like to get those emotional needs met in a positive way.

To have you offer him a few smiles each day. To comment positively once a day when he doesn't react to a situation in the usual fussy manner. Make these comments brief and not too sweet but just a frank observation. He may roll his eyes at you initially but if you keep at it for a while his trust in you will grow. You are slowly modeling for him what it feels like to pull positive emotions from people. You are subtly letting him know that he does have the power to respond to situations and people appropriately.

Don't stop being pro-active. Just look to yourself and see where you can use your own wonderful empathetic self to change a little corner of your brother's life. Sometimes having someone show their care in this way is enough to change a life.
~Leah~
 
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