Siblings in the Same School

brothers playing video gameThis year my two oldest children are both in high school — the same high school. This was not something that I really wanted, but that was how the cookie crumbles, I suppose. Their experiences in the same school are vastly different. One of my children gravitates toward adults for support, so I have found that child to be very well known and for the most part liked by the teachers in the school. The other has always been much more reserved with adults that he does not know well, gravitating toward peers.

One is very loud and you know he’s there, even if he’s in a crowd. The other hates to have attention called to him, being very quiet overall. They both are searching to find themselves and define what they want life to be as they should during those high school years.

Both are incredibly bright, capable and smart. Both have the potential to be very successful in life.

One is driven to take honors courses, is involved in student government and sports and is looking forward to college. He has been working from the first day of high school to identify what will look good on his college application.

The other does not want to go to college but wants to work in an industry that has been his lifelong interest. When this child is presented with the many options high school presents, frustration sets in. I watch and see that when he is taught about possible options, listening comes to a stop.

Both are very stubborn and set in their own thoughts of what is right for them at this point in their lives.

One of these children has significant mental health needs. As a parent, I wonder, Will he be able to meet the potential that I know is there? Will I be successful in teaching the skills he needs to live and work independently? The potential is there, but I wait to see how the cookie crumbles.

Then I wonder about my other child. Will he graduate with the skills that he needs to be successful? Or will he lose his drive that he has when faced with the hard work? Will he meet his own potential?

At home, they seem very close. Always in the same area, asking each other questions and clarifying answers. But things change when they leave the house. They go to the bus stop at separate times, refusing to go with each other. They go through their school day with limited contact. One is so embarrassed and angry when approached, even in a positive way, by teachers who acknowledge his relationship with his sibling. When this happens, he feels singled out. When the two of them meet in the hall, one is so very happy to see the other, loudly greeting him. Once again, my quiet child feels singled out and embarrassed. The sibling that he accepts at home is not accepted in the high school community. He is embarrassed that he is related to him and would rather there is no contact. But at the same time, he brings home feedback on how his sibling is viewed at school – who accepts him and who does not.

—Mom of several children with mental health needs