Monday, June 18 , 2018, 8:45 am | Fair 62º


Louise Palanker: Sibling Rivalry, Feeling Left Out of Digital Age, Frozen Out by Dad

Question from Nathan

My brother went to a hospital because he is suicidal and has anxiety. I think I’m the reason. We always fight and never get along.

I mean, I want to change this when he gets back. I miss him already, I wonder how long he’ll be gone. I’m hoping he’ll be back and happy ... I mean I miss him, I truly do.

At first, I was kind of happy he left ... but, now I kinda miss his loudness and his silliness.

How can we stop fighting? I don’t want him to hurt himself because of me. I’m scared for him now. I’ve been so cruel to him, it’s been a habit. He doesn’t deserve this.

I want to change when he comes back. I hope he comes back soon.


This is NOT your fault. Brothers fight. Children are reactive creatures. They do not always think everything through. They are not capable of understanding every possible consequence to a cruel remark or an angry tone.

How could they be? They have not yet experienced very much and their brains are busy developing as are their ideas, beliefs, philosophies and world views.

It is up to the adults in children’s lives to guide them along this path. Often when a child’s needs are not being met he will simply react. He will act out against a sibling. This is just a human striking out because he has been hurt and his instinct is to himself.

Sibling rivalry is almost always rooted in a competition for parental love and attention. When people self harm it is for a variety of reasons that can run very deep. Protecting siblings from each other and from themselves and ensuring that every person in the household feels loved, celebrated and appreciated is the job of the adults.

As you grow and face experiences exactly WHAT you decide to learn and take from those experiences is up to you, and it is these decisions that will define you.

You are saying that you want to be kinder to your brother when he returns from the hospital. THAT is what makes you a great person. You had an experience that turned your head and made you say, “I need to make some adjustments and fine tune the person I am becoming.”

Don’t be angry at the kid who was cruel to his brother. Encourage the kid who has decided that he needs to change.

Here is important advice from YouTuber, Lukeissexy:

(LukeIsQuiteSexy video)

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Question from Chloe

How do I get my parents to give me a phone? I can’t get in contact with any of my friends. My parents tell me to just email, except no one uses email. Literally, two other girls (siblings) and I are the only kids in our grade without phones.

My only electronics are a 3-year-old Nook that my grandma got me and an Asus tablet from four years ago. They’re all completely cracked. My dad says I don’t need a phone, but whenever I stay after school or I’m at a friend’s house I have to borrow their phone. It’s embarrassing.

He says I don’t need one because he didn’t get his first phone until he was 40. But in his time they thought it was safe for kids to hitchhike so I don’t know. My mom said they would discuss it and they never have! I know it’s not that we can’t afford it. We definitely can.


Why don’t you put a case together for getting a phone and present it to your parents in a calm and rational manner? Do not just repeat the problem, offer to become part of the solution. Volunteer to earn money and pay for your own phone.

Put your case together and make points that support your argument. Make counter-points to their arguments.

Your dad stating that he did not have a cell phone until it was invented is pretty comical, but don’t make fun of him. The entire population was communicating differently when he was your age. Times change. We all change. That’s how it all works.

Make the argument that it is a good idea for you to learn cell phone etiquette and safety while you are their child, living at home so that they can properly guide you through it.

You will be safer with a phone. There may be times when you need to contact your parents and you are not with someone who can lend you a phone.

Offer to turn your phone over to your parents every evening. Give them your passwords ... etc. Put all of your points together, prepare and ask for a family meeting.

Your dad grew up with this phone. A lot has changed.

(Fine Brothers Entertainment video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Jonathan

I really need some advice, So two days ago my dad started to hate me. I messed up with an issue about money and now he’s neglecting me and hating me.

For example, today at the dinner table with my step-siblings and step-mom he was laughing and talking to every one except me. When he addressed me, he looked and talked to me like I was an embarrassment.

The other day when he got upset about the money problem, he said some really horrible and abusive things to me and started to growl and bare his teeth at me he was so angry.

I’ve been extremely stressed at school and have been really sad and down the past few weeks, and now I’m having constant suicidal thoughts and I hate myself all the time. I’m afraid to ask my guidance counselor at school for help for fear something worse would happen. What do I do?


Your guidance counselor will not make things worse. She will listen and give you good counsel. She has studied for years just so she can help kids like you. Go talk to her. It is imperative that since you are having suicidal thoughts you speak to somebody immediately.

Very important here, your dad does not hate you and he will NEVER hate you. He is upset with you and there is a big difference between anger and hate.

Have you completely apologized for what you did? A true apology requires you to say, “I am so sorry and I have learned from that mistake.” Saying, “I’m sorry! (sarcastically),” or “I’m sorry but ...” may actually make things worse.

A meaningful and effective apology also comes with contrition and an offer to make restitution. How are you suggesting that you correct your mistake?

Go to your dad with all of this and then tell him just how his anger effects you. He needs to know that just as your actions have consequences, so, too, do his RE-actions to your actions. He is, after all, RAISING you. You are not his business partner or his neighbor. You are his child and he does not get to freeze you out or emotionally blackmail you.

That has nothing to do with you and everything to do with him. So tell him ... “Dad, I need you to understand how upset and depressed I get when I disappoint you. Please help me make this right so that you and I can be good again. I need my dad.”

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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara​. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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