Dear Savvy Auntie,

My nephew is 11-years-old. He is an incredibly sweet boy. He loves to give hugs, is very smart, and does alright in school. His father is not a good role model—he had a heart attack a year ago, yet has done very little to improve his health.

Recently, my nephew started acting out, saying inappropriate things during school to get attention, not doing homework, and other things. I know he knows it's wrong but he does it anyway. I just really want him to do better. My sister has gotten him to agree to counseling, and he's actually open to it. However, I am hoping for something more. I would like to talk to him about the idea of joining Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I think having an older brother would do him wonders.

I talked to my sister and she's open, but my brother-in-law is not. I would love some suggestions on how to help my nephew adjust and have good examples.

Seeking Good Role Models

Dear Seeking Good Role Models,

It is a very positive sign that your nephew is open to counseling and that his mother likes the idea of Big Brother. In addition, you could suggest after-school activities that would be led by males—the Boy Scouts, Little League, or a summer camp that has male counselors. In other words, any organized activity that has males as the authority figures.

Your nephew will gravitate towards healthy and caring role models as a natural predilection. Also, give his dad some time, he may come around to be more supportive. It is common to be defensive and in denial after a serious health crisis. Most importantly, don’t underestimate the power of the loving women in his life. His mother, you, and his teachers or others.

Best of Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield


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