Dear Annie: I’m in my second – and final – marriage, and I have a 15-year-old son and a 5-year-old son. I have struggled for years with the disconnected relationship between my older son and his little brother.
I met my wife when the older one was 4. Everything was great, and my wife and the boy bonded at the time. At age 5, my wife and son walked our dog one day without me, and both were greeted by a neighbor who said that her “son” looked cute. To this, he replied, “She’s nothing, she’s a zero.” As you can imagine, my wife was distraught when she came home. Despite both adults understanding that my son made the statement based on his biological mom feeding him that type of comment, that pivotal moment endured.
Currently, my older son has a serious chip on his shoulder (expectedly at that age), though I do occasionally get a glimmer of his beautiful younger self. He does respect his stepmom. His everyday greeting anytime he sees us is a low, mumbled “hi.” His younger brother yearns for his big brother’s acknowledgment and attention, but it has slowly diminished over the years due to his older brother’s inattentiveness.
My question is, what do I do to help bridge the gap between brothers for the long term? At this point, I just hope my older one will eventually have the wisdom to understand that his younger brother may be his undiscovered, longest-term, best friend, or at a least loving one. – Seeking Guidance
Dear Seeking: Communication is the key. Start with your teenage son, explaining to him how you need his help in boosting the confidence of his little brother. If you and your wife approach both boys with a kind heart, which you clearly have, they will want to help you out.
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