Sep 13

Teenagers and Money

Even from a tender age, it was not rocket science that how I had been brought up was very different from how my baby brother was brought up. You see, I was a university baby. My mother and father were in their second year of university and as soon as their parents heard of my mother’s pregnancy with me, they disowned her.

At the time, my father did his best to sustain us. Well, as best as a college student with a girlfriend and a daughter could do. My mother too put in effort to ensure we had food on the table. Needless to say, I grew up knowing what it meant to lack. I became very cautious of what I asked of my parents and how I spent every penny they gave me.

My brother was born much later. Clear as day, he was a special child, gifted, to be specific. Without much effort, he grasped concepts and always came top of his class. My parents became very proud of him they placed him on a pedestal. They worshiped him. Every time he made a mistake, my dad always left my mum to handle it and she would in turn ‘helicopter’ over any issues. With time, my brother became perfect in manipulating and lying to my parents.

By then, my parents had made a name and a career for themselves. We lived in a leafy suburb and had more than we needed. While this made life comfortable, it resulted to our parents being absent. They were always working late; in a meeting out of town or abroad. While I was older and in boarding school, my brother was always left home with house helps. To make up for their absence, my parents gave him everything he asked for on top of money which they gave him claiming it was to teach him lessons on financial management.

At the age of sixteen, my brother had become quite the party person. Given that he had whatever money he needed to carry out his teenage experiments and entertain his peers, he acquired very many ‘friends’ and girls endlessly threw themselves at him. My brother had a new reason everyday to throw a party and get high. He started hanging out with dangerous gangs and missing school. His grades drastically dropped, disciplinary issues at school were on the rise and he was eventually expelled.

I tried to tell my parents that my brother’s behavior was dangerous and that he needed help with his drugs use. This fell on deaf ears. “What do you know about parenting at your age? And yet here you are implying that we are bad parents” I vividly remember my father saying this me. My brother was apologetic and looking very innocent, he promised to be in his best behavior. Again, without much effort, he was off the hook with no form of punishment.

The next day, my mother using the connections she had, got my brother a new school where he reported within a week. It did not take long before my brother was in trouble again. He was abusing marijuana in school and not doing his homework. Like the times before, my parents came to my brother’s rescue. They managed to convince the school’s administration to let him sit his “A levels” without any problems. My brother did his exams and came home. Only this time, his drug use was worse than before. Drugs seemed to be the only thing he lived for.

One evening I came home and heard my brother laughing loudly. I got curious thinking that he had again sneaked a girl into his room and wanted to burst him. To my surprise, the lights were off and he was alone. I turned the lights on but he did not react. He went on laughing and began to strip. Immediately, I knew something was wrong; this was more than one of his dramatic behavior after getting high all day. I began to slowly approach him but he became very aggressive threatening to kill me if I came any closer saying that he knew the people who had sent me to kill him!.

Scared to the core, I run out of the room and went downstairs to call my parents. They were both out of town working and could only be back the following morning. I stayed awake all night making sure nothing happened to my brother. When my parents got home, my dad quickly went to my brother’s room and found him crammed in one corner shaking like it was the winter and wailing. Naturally, my mother picked him and covered him in a bid to keep him warm but to no avail.

We went to a hospital and after narrating the events of the night to the doctor, we were referred to a psychiatrist. After examining him and asking all of us a few questions, the psychiatrist informed us that my brother was mentally unwell and would require admission to get immediate medical intervention for what he said was a psychotic episode. After a week in the psychiatric facility, my brother was better and very calm. The psychiatrist advised that he remained on the medication prescribed to help control his symptoms and seek help with for his drug use.

A few days later, my parents and I checked my brother into a rehabilitation center where he has now been for close to two months. My brother has made a lot of progress with help from his counselors and psychiatrist. He now understands the importance of abstaining from drug use and adherence to his medication. Although my brother spent a lot of time in active addiction which also compromised his mental health, there is hope for him being functional again and reaching his potential with the help and support of his psychiatrist, counselors and most importantly, us; his family.

Upon reflection, my brothers fate would have been different had a few things happened differently. My parents should have made time interacted with us more instead of always being at work. They would also have made him accountable on how he spent the money they gave him and most importantly, not shield him from the consequences of this decisions and actions.