Cliffs Notes version: My brother has/had a foster son. He is now 14. Super nice kid, really sweet, polite, deep down good kid. Mom is worthless as a parent. Doesn't follow up with homework/school/basic needs. Kid lived with my brother for almost 2 years. Brother is a teacher, moved to kid's school to keep eye on him. Kids grades improve. Kid learns soccer, makes teams. Brother enrolls him in several camps, took him on a trip across country, all is getting better with kid. Court decided to return him to mom if mom went through parenting classes. So kid goes home, immediately gets in trouble at school, grades are junk. Kid stays put. Now kid has been home for about a year, brother still in close contact with teachers, coaches, has lots of contact (because mom doesn't want to do anything anyway, my brother is seen as her way out of parenting)
We saw kid at Easter, he is a SWEETHEART of a kid. But just cannot get it together. I suspect because at home, no one really cares. I say he got in trouble subconsciously because he wanted to go back to live with my brother. Life was really good there! But he also is devoted to his mom.
Kid has all the potential in the world to succeed, and he plays lip service (yes, I'll try....) but no action. I think he really is afraid of failing, afraid of being abandoned if he screws up, all of those things. I also think its like Lord of the Flies at his house, and there is no structure (I doubt there are even meals on a regular basis).
My brother provides him with his necessities (clothes, school stuff, soccer gear, bike, etc)
Any thoughts on how to get this kid to realize his potential before its too late?
He's 14, I think what your brother is doing will take effect, just not right this minute. It's hard enough being 14 even without any other issues in life. I'd say just keep supporting your brother and the teenager any way you can, and I think it will work out alright in the end.
send some of their smart literate deer who can read road signs up here since ours are just run of the mill dumb ones who get splatted all over creation because they won't stay in the woods
Maybe it will work in the same way Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs work - the presence of a consistently caring, stable adult in a kid's life can have more influence than you'd think. Good for your brother for maintaining the relationship!
Yup. The importance of having one adult in kiddo's life who wants the best for him, shows him how to get that and steadfastly believes in him is key. It's such a gift.
And also! For many kids, doing better than their parents feels disloyal. And if things were so bad you ended up in foster care, the abandonment issue mixed up with "who do you love and why?" is complicated. So OP-Brother can make sure that he never speaks badly of Kid's Mom. She gets to do parenting her way and Brother gets to add his support.
If kid feels like he's on the brink of becoming his own man, that's a fine time for OP Brother to have a guy-like sit-down with him and let him know that he didn't get to choose where he came from and "family is family" if he wants to love his mom as always his mom. But he gets to choose where he goes in life. Just as OP-Brother was "the right man in the right place at the right time" to show kid a different/bigger life, there *will* be others like that, too, in the future if he keeps choosing the best for himself.
Teaching kids that they can get what they need in relationships with others, regardless of the family-of-origin's ability to provide that is so awesome.