Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

Advice Vixens

Hi Vixens. Happy new year! My question regards family. I'm having a hard time currently understanding and accepting the behaviour of family members. I know you cant control other peoples actions but I genuinely just want to cut everyone loose and say see ya! I have always been my own person but when it came to big life events ie getting married, my mother has always put her oar in and pushed certain things. She made the biggest deal that my bro had to on the wedding and complained that when he was asked that he didnt play a big enough part (best man) despite being on the wedding at her command. He didnt really want to be on it. Because he was much younger and quieter he was allocated the role of usher. He got a suit but played a minor role on the day at his own request. When I had my first child, again she pushed that he was my only brother and insisted that he was chosen to be a godparent. In the end he was. Recently we were discussing his wedding and she mentioned that none of us were going to play a part in the wedding, merely attend as guests I dont understand why the same sentiments were not reciprocated especially as I had so much pressure on me. My mother seems to think his decision is absolutely fine. There has always been a big difference made between their rules for me and for him. I also think that my.parents are super keen to impress the brides parents. They seem to make so much more effort to do things with my brother, his girl and her family. They have never made much of an effort for me and my hubby. Anytime i visit, which is not often due to living away they never have time, always busy etc. Is there anything that you can advise for getting by on this?

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    I can completely feel your pain! My parents have always been like that with my older brother. They show so much favoritism that even my relatives and sister in law comment on it.
    I have always been there for them way more than my brother like when my father had his bypass i immediately flew from USA to India to help them. I made sure I call them often so they are not lonely. But he was always the golden child and will be and as I am writing this it still hurts.
    But over time I realized its draining my energy and I am being unfair to my husband by devoting so much time to my parents.
    You should sit them down and let them know your disappointment.
    Tell them the things you need from them to make you feel better and list out examples of when you have felt a bias.
    I wouldent say cut them loose because they are still your parents but definitely limit contact with them if they dont make efforts to correct their behavior.
    Its really sad when your own family shows such a bias but count your blessings. I always remind myself that I have a loving husband and I am blessed with good health.
    Even i have been tempted to just stop contact with my parents at times but i know that in the long run the guilt is going to make me feel a lot worse. So i do my part and am generally a decent daughter but i dont let them guilt me into devoting all my energy and time on them. That ship has sailed. I do what i can but my top priority is always my husband and me.
    Also i keep telling myself that their bias does not mean something is wrong with me. Its their shortcoming that they cant appreciate me :).
    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    reply to Shalini
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    Shalini is right.

    What I have learned in my long life is that we have completely distorted the old quote that blood is thicker than water.

    It actually says "The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb".

    If your birth family does not treat you as a valued and respected person whom they are interested in and thrilled to be with, just let them drift away. Surround yourself with people who *do* care about you and who show it openly.

    Call once a week at the same time on the same day, if you're afraid you'll feel guilty otherwise. If they don't call back, so be it.

    I cut my psycho father off without at a word once my mother passed, and felt zero guilt. Did the same with my older brother when he caused drama after our youngest brother passed. Accidents of birth are not ironclad contracts.

    Life is too short and too uncertain to waste a single second on people who act like you don't matter to them.

    reply to Robynne
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    I have an aunt (by marriage) who was very clearly the less-favoured sibling in her family. Her younger brother was treated like a divine gift from God; she was 'merely' the girl in the family, expected to wait on her father and brother throughout their lives, without thanks or acknowledgment. (Her mother died when she was 11. She basically raised her younger brother, and kept house for her father for decades...)

    She held a good, responsible job at a bank; raised a family; was active doing volunteer work -- and also looked after her father into his 80s. And I *do* mean looked after him -- cooked his meals, cleaned his house, arranged his doctor's appointments, drove him around ... everything. (One time, she was hospitalized after surgery. She was due out just before Christmas ... her father stopped by only to tell her *exactly* how he wanted the Christmas turkey and stuffing prepared the day she got out.)

    She put up with all this because she felt it was her duty ... and because even though she was treated like dirt, she held on to a fantasy that someday, her father would recognize all the sacrifices she had made and work she had done for him and her brother. And when that day came, and she got the acknowledgement she wanted, she would feel it had been all worthwhile.

    Years went by.

    The day never came.

    Her father died last year. He wasn't fantastically rich or anything, but he had held on to his money and was comfortable. And, of course, there were family heirlooms and items of great sentimental value he had kept over the years.

    Save for a token amount to satisfy legal obligations, all of it -- every penny, every sentimental item, every heirloom -- went to the son in the will. Which the son accepted as his due, as the favoured child.

    My point? Adults who mistreat other people are very, very unlikely to change ... even after they die. And my aunt would tell you this: if she had to do it all over again, she'd have spent FAR less time with her father and brother, and far more time with her own husband, children, and grandchildren who she genuinely loved (and was loved by).

    So .... you are your own person now. *You* get to decide how much time and energy you can devote to the relationships in your life.

    And it's perfectly fine, healthy, and appropriate to determine that if someone is not taking the time and energy to support, respect, and appreciate you, that you'll limit contact with that person -- no matter what their ostensible relationship to you may be.

    reply to Kal
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