Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Sister Threw Our Parents A Surprise Party and Didn’t Invite Me”

canstockphoto13568108

My wife and I recently found out that my sister organized a surprise birthday party for my mum’s and dad’s 70th. It was arranged while my wife and I were on our honeymoon, so we missed out on celebrating with them. My wife found out by accident while talking to a couple who attended on the night (around a month and a half after the party). Nobody told us before the event, and my mum, dad, and sister never mentioned anything after we’d returned. It was kept as some kind of secret! When my wife found out and told me, I rang my sister straight away. She didn’t answer, so I texted her and she replied that she had texted me in the summer saying she was “thinking of doing something for mum’s and dad’s birthday.” I told her that I’d never received the text, which is the truth.

My wife and I are totally gutted and really upset by my sister’s actions. When I tried to speak to my mum and dad about what had gone on, they said they didn’t want to get involved but they defended my sister by saying, “You never reply to her texts!.” I told them I’d never received the text in question and I tried to reason that, even if she had texted me and I hadn’t replied, she should have rung me to say she was going ahead and organizing a party as we’d have liked to have paid half towards it. When I asked why she’d organized it for when we were on our honeymoon, she said that was the only date available. This is a lie as my wife checked with the venue and there was only one Saturday booked in the month!

I cannot get my head around all of this as we have no history of falling out. We have always gotten on. I feel confused and angry that my sister would alienate us like this, and I don’t know where we go from here. My sister, along with my mum and dad, think she hasn’t done anything wrong and can’t see my wife’s and my point of view. It is now at a stalemate with my sister as she refuses to apologize for her actions as she doesn’t think she has done anything wrong. I look forward to hearing your reply. — Kept Out of the Surprise

This is so weird and I totally feel for you. I’m sure you’re feeling left out, confused, angry, and hurt. I would be, too. But rather than focus on what your sister did wrong — or convincing her that she, in fact, did do something wrong, I would shift your attention to explaining your point of view (that you say your sister can’t see). Tell her how hurt you are and that you’re disappointed you were not only left out of the planning of the surprise party, but also left out of the party itself. And let her know you’re confused because this strikes you as something that would happen in a family that has communication issues or a history of fall-outs, and you believed you had a good relationship with both her and your parents. Ask her if she, too, believes you have a good relationship and that, if you are mistaken, you would appreciate knowing her point of view.

Then talk to your parents. Rather than try to blame your sister, which will only make them defend her — she’s their daughter, after all, and she just threw them a surprise party — explain how much you would have loved to have been part of their party, both in organizing and attending — and that your absence is not in any way a reflection of your feelings and regard for them. Tell them that you’re confused about why you and your wife were left out of the festivities but that you don’t hold them accountable and that you hope they had a wonderful time.

This may be one of those things you never get clarification on. Or, you may be in the dark for a very long time. That sucks, but for your own well-being, as well as your relationship with your family, I’d recommend trying to let this go. It’s OK and understandable to feel hurt and angry, but don’t dwell on those emotions too long. There’s obviously more to the story that you don’t know, and, while it’s a total bummer that you aren’t privy to that knowledge, you have to accept that there’s a reason you’re in the dark and that maybe that reason has little or nothing to do with you. Instead of wasting time and energy feeling upset, focus on your new marriage and all the love in your life right now, including the love you receive from people, including your sister, who disappoint and hurt you sometimes. We’re all only human and limited by our ability to process troubles and stresses and to always communicate effectively and compassionately with each other. Choose forgiveness and compassion, even if it’s hard or doesn’t come naturally in this circumstance, and you will be the better person for it.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

54 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite November 19, 2014, 8:12 am

    Maybe she meant only date available for like your parents and her and things. I know with my family picking a date for anything is horrible, we’re having Christmas in February this year.

    This is a weird situation unless there’s something on your sister’s end that’s been unexplained so far. WWS is awesome.

    Reply Link
  • something random

    something random November 19, 2014, 8:57 am

    What a perfect answer from Wendy. This goes in my favorite file.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    Kate November 19, 2014, 9:08 am

    Well. It could be as simple as your sister feels like you never respond to her texts and she got fed up and just decided to do this without you. But… everyone went to a lot of trouble to keep you in the dark about this whole thing. And to plan it during the week you’d be away on your honeymoon. That seems to indicate they really didn’t want you to attend. Where’s your wife in all this? You say her feelings were really hurt and it obviously upset her enough to go doing some sleuthing. How’s your family’s relationship with your wife? Is there a reason they wouldn’t want her, or you, to attend a party? Anything about your behavior at past social gatherings?

    There’s definitely a piece of the puzzle missing here, as Wendy suggested.

    Reply Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 9:29 am

      Either they don’t like the new wife or the sister is jealous because her brother’s life seems happier, more complete or better than her own so she stabs him in the back. Maybe the marriage makes her feel like her life doesn’t add up or, like you said, they don’t like the wife.

      Reply Link
  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray November 19, 2014, 9:18 am

    This is a really weird situation. But here’s what I say: (1) There must be a lot more to the story here, and likely a long history of bad relations with your family, and if not, then (2) your sister is mean and not considerate (I mean, geez, the length to which she kept you in the dark about this and cut you out of your parents’ party – oh and then her blaming it on you not responding to one text is just … ridiculous) and, if #2 is right, which it must be if #1 is wrong, then (3) this can’t possibly be the first time your sister has done something like this, so it should probably come as no surprise to you, in which case, follow all of what Wendy said above including: “Don’t dwell … you have to accept … focus on your new marriage.”

    Reply Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 9:32 am

      She had to be secretive because even if someone wasn’t involved in the planning they would hear about it unless you made a point of keeping it a secret and that includes the parents. The parents had to keep the secret both before and after the party. The parents were in on this the whole way.

      Reply Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 9:34 am

        Just double checked and it was a surprise party so the parents weren’t in it ahead of time but did keep it a secret after the fact.

        Link
  • avatar

    Laura Hope November 19, 2014, 9:35 am

    You guys are way more evolved than I am. If my family (including my parents!) excluded me, kept it a secret, lied to me and refused to tell me what I had done to deserve that, I would force a confrontation. I would send a handwritten letter to each of them telling them exactly how they made me feel and exactly how far they can shove it.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      Kate November 19, 2014, 9:41 am

      Haha, in my case it’s not that I’m evolved, it’s that I don’t give a crap what my family does.

      Reply Link
    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray November 19, 2014, 9:45 am

      I’m easily swayed because this sounds right too!

      Reply Link
    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster November 19, 2014, 11:40 am

      I was thinking the same thing. I would raise holy hell and NOT LET IT GO. But that’s me and my bad temper, and not what I would advise to others, haha.

      Reply Link
  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 9:42 am

    I think you should take your parents out to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Just you and your wife and your parents and tell them since you didn’t get to celebrate with them at their party you’d like to celebrate with them now and give them a nice gift or give them each a nice gift. Take the high road. Part of what your sister is probably trying to do is make herself look good and you to look bad. So she also covered leaving you out by saying you don’t reply to texts so that you looked bad and what could she do and also by hosting the party by herself everyone knew she did it and she looked good. The reality is probably closer to everyone thought it was nice of her to host a party but thought it was odd that she chose a date that you couldn’t possibly make. If she is a convincing liar maybe they all bought that it was the only date available but probably most people thought it was a little odd but didn’t dwell on it. Don’t say anything negative about your sister because that makes you look bad. Be positive and warm with your parents but I’d expect more of the same from your sister.

    Reply Link
    • FireStar

      FireStar November 19, 2014, 10:25 am

      I like this idea better. If the party comes up then just say you were confused and hurt but you are looking towards the future.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      Jennylou November 19, 2014, 12:22 pm

      This is a great idea. I think you’re right – it sounds to me as if the sister really hated not being the centre of attention while the brother’s wedding was in the works, so as soon as he was off on the honeymoon, she made herself the star of the show. Of course she needed to vilify him (“he ALWAYS ignores my texts!”) in order to make herself appear the victim and justify omitting him. I’d be curious to know more about their dynamic in childhood, and also, it would be interesting to know what the difference in age is.

      Reply Link
  • FireStar

    FireStar November 19, 2014, 9:54 am

    Your sister sounds like an ass. Wasn’t she at the wedding? Did you have no communication with her for months? Do you only ever text each other? And if the missing text is question is that “I’m thinking of doing something some time in the future” then this is even more lame. Where were the texts asking about your availability – even if you weren’t interested in planning – why wouldn’t you get an invite?
    How is your sister’s relationship with your wife, by the way? Was this some sort of passive aggressive was to make it clear to your wife she isn’t part of the family and you were just caught in friendly fire? The whole situations sucks.
    You can tell your parents you are terribly hurt by all of this – including that everything was kept secret from you after the fact (the part they were complicit in). It is clear your sister wanted to exclude you since you never received any texts, phone calls or otherwise about the party and you have no idea why and why she won’t at least admit to it if there was a problem.
    Ad then just leave it. You’ve said your piece. You know you were lied to and there isn’t much you can do about that. Focus on your wife and treat everyone nicely. But if I were you I would double check motives in your family in the future and limit exactly how much I trust my sister.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    jlyfsh November 19, 2014, 9:56 am

    It definitely sounds like there is something more going on because that text is so vague and even if you don’t answer the majority of her texts, but you do stay in contact, why couldn’t that be something that is discussed over email or a phone call? Was that her one and only attempt to contact you about this. Or do you have a history of bad communication with her? Either way it’s weird and I would be pissed if I was you, but I feel like we probably don’t have the whole story. It just seems weird. I just have such a hard time imagining my sister doing something like this to me. So, it’s hard for me to imagine an instance where it would happen. Unless for some reason I did just completely stop communicating with her….

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    RedroverRedrover November 19, 2014, 9:59 am

    LW, I had something similar happen with my sister. Once she got engaged to her now-husband, she was essentially “done” with my family. None of us has any idea why. My mom thinks something happened in highschool, and that it was her fault, but she doesn’t know what she did. My sister’s attitude did turn really bad back then, and she never really changed back to the sweet girl she used to be. But none of us knew there was some big cause behind it, and we especially didn’t know she hated the family for it.
    .
    At her wedding, we were totally snubbed. I was technically her maid of honour, but she only said about two words to me all night. She asked my parents not to make a speech. I had a “toast”. Her husband’s family had speeches. My brothers were all seated at different tables, basically used as “filler” for the tables that weren’t full. She barely even spoke to or looked at my parents. The family photos were so awkward. Her husband could see it too, he kept trying to be more inclusive of us, but my sister was just so cold. It was literally one of the worst nights of my whole life. None of us knew what was going on.
    .
    After the wedding, she stopped coming for family holidays, and really barely spoke to us. It took about five years for her to mellow and start seeing us again. Well, she would see us here and there, but not really talk much. Now she’s not so bad, and she and I occasionally visit back and forth with our sons. But still, there’s that divide. And I have no idea why. She made some comment to my mom once that she had a lot of anxiety in highschool and that no one cared or would help her, so maybe that’s it. My mom feels awful, but also, my sister never told her that she had anxiety, so what could my mom really do? Whenever she tried to talk to her, my sister shut her down, so I’m not sure how she can blame my mom in this.
    .
    Anyway, long story short (or long, I guess), there are people who have these perceived slights, and they never tell anyone. And they just let it build and build until it becomes so monumental in their mind that they feel justified in treating you a certain way. Maybe for your sister, the fact that you don’t respond to enough texts was enough, who knows. You might never know, the way I don’t with my sister. But my mom took the line of “let’s be here for her when she wants us”. We didn’t burn any bridges, we didn’t get angry. We just tried to show that we cared and were still her family. It was no use talking to her because she wouldn’t tell us anything, so that’s all we could do. Eventually, like I said, she did warm up somewhat and now she acts like part of the family again. Not like she used to, but at least she’s not shutting us out anymore. It’s not great, but better than before.

    Reply Link
    • FireStar

      FireStar November 19, 2014, 10:34 am

      Sorry about this RedRover. How sad for your mom.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 19, 2014, 10:57 am

        Yeah, I feel really bad for her. 🙁 Apparently one year at Christmas (I wasn’t there), she also went off about how I was always mom’s favourite and how life was so easy for me. She’s just generally angry I think, and only sees her narrow view of the world. Like I have a better career than her, so I was just lucky. She doesn’t see that it’s a lot of hard work to get an engineering degree, especially when you would have rather taken something else, but you take engineering so that you know you’ll get a good job. Whereas she took something that she loved that had no career prospects. I mean, yeah. What did she expect? Anyway, it’s upsetting for all involved, but no point dwelling on it. I just try not to think about it, and treat her like my sister when she lets me.

        Link
      • FireStar

        FireStar November 19, 2014, 11:12 am

        Something similar happened in my family with my brother and it just broke my mother. And my brother was an ass over nothing. You almost wish he had a real problem in life so he could tell the difference. It’ been five years and now my brother is just barely re-establishing a relationship with my mom -which I want for her – but I just can’t have someone like that in my life or my daughter’s life. Awkward because my mom lives with me and while I know she wants to pretend things are like they used to be I’m not feeling great about cooking for him and preparing all of the dishes we prepare over the holidays for someone who behaved as he did without an apology to her. Sad but oh well.

        Link
      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 19, 2014, 11:34 am

        Yep, that’s family sometimes. 🙁 Good luck with it over the holidays, I hope it goes smoothly for you!

        Link
  • avatar

    Suzy November 19, 2014, 10:08 am

    My earlier comment didn’t make it? Arggh.

    I think your family doesn’t like your new wife. They just don’t want to have a confrontation, so they are cutting you out of events. It’s best to find out why or this will keep happening.

    Reply Link
    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray November 19, 2014, 10:58 am

      I saw it! It was in the men’s gift list post.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        Suzy November 19, 2014, 11:52 am

        Huh odd. Thanks!

        Link
  • mylaray

    mylaray November 19, 2014, 10:58 am

    I could be projecting, but there’s obviously more to the story of your relations with your sister (and also parents) but when someone like your sister goes behind your back like this, I tend to think more often than not it’s valid. Your parents had no problem covering it up. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a weird and shitty situation that this happened. But there’s a lot more to every relationship with each family member than we think we know. And maybe your sister’s reason for not inviting isn’t valid. But your parents being complicit in this make me think there is a lot more to this story you aren’t telling us.
    .
    Whatever the reason you’re still allowed to feel hurt, but I would focus on trying to repair things and moving on from this than continuing to blame and finding no fault of your own (i.e., she never texted me). Both parties have to step forward a bit. It may not feel right or fair but being the bigger person makes a big difference.

    Reply Link
  • avatar

    dolchela November 19, 2014, 10:59 am

    Because weddings tend to be driven more by the bride’s family, your sister may have felt left out of things and she may be acting out through the planning of the anniversary party because of that. How involved was your sister during the lead-up to the wedding and did your wife work to make her feel included?

    Think back on these situations: Was your sister a bridesmaid? Was she part of planning bridal showers, parties, luncheons? Did she help pick out the bridesmaid dresses? Was she included in the bachelorette party and planning?

    Not knowing the details of your sister’s personal situation, she may have felt like your new marriage and the wedding planning was taking up all the attention in your family’s life. If she was included in events and planning for them, she may have been envious of you and your new bride being the central focus of everything.

    I am not saying she acted appropriately or maturely but there may be a lot of hurt feelings going on with your sister that you were not aware of because you were so busy with the wedding and parties. And it’s understandable that you were caught up in this happy time in your life. There is always so much going on during the whirlwind of wedding planning and all of the related events but maybe your sister and even your parents felt left out of things.

    Reply Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 11:48 am

      I’m guessing but based on the timing of the party I’d say that his sister is jealous. She shifted the focus of the family and the family friends from her brother and his wedding and his honeymoon to herself and the party that she hosted during the honeymoon. She didn’t let the family focus on his wedding and his honeymoon for even a couple of weeks. She wanted to be the center of attention and the focus of conversation and she did that immediately after his wedding.

      Reply Link
      • avatar

        NavyWife November 19, 2014, 12:04 pm

        I tend to agree with your theory, Skyblossom, if we are not missing any parts of the story/history (as others have suggested). There are people who just cannot stand to share the spotlight, and they feel the need to upstage others’ happy occasions.

        Link
  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark November 19, 2014, 12:06 pm

    Okay, okay. Truth. There has to be more to this story. There just has to… And somehow, I just bet it involves both the sister and the wife. Something went down. Some way. Some how. Something seriously went down. Because that’s the ONLY reason everybody else involved would remain so blase’ about this major, major slight.

    Reply Link
    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 12:58 pm

      It could be as simple as the sister used to feel like she was the prettiest, smartest, or most successful and now feels that the new wife is prettier, smarter, more successful and/or liked better by the family so she is acting out. The brother and his wife will now have a dual income and might be able to afford things that the sister can’t. She may have always felt that she would be the first to get married and he messed that up by getting married now. There have been lots of comments on different columns here at DW where people talked about their jealous feelings when a sibling or cousin did something first, like marriage or a baby, that the individual always assumed that they would do first.

      I think if you have a good relationship with your sibling you have trouble imagining someone acting like this and if you don’t you find it easy to imagine. We all comment based on our own experiences so our comments say as much about us as they do about this situation.

      Reply Link
      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark November 19, 2014, 1:01 pm

        Are women REALLY commonly THIS petty though? Seriously? I mean there was an outpouring of rage on here once long, long ago after I jokingly proclaimed… Women: The Pettiest Sex. 😉

        Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 1:16 pm

        Not most women but enough to make people miserable. If only 5 or 10% act like this it’s enough for most of us to have had a bad experience. My sister has always been eaten alive by jealousy, I think because my mom always was and made everything about my sister and made sure she was the center of attention. My mom made sure she had the best haircut by never taking me for a haircut. She made sure she had the best clothes by refusing to take me shopping for clothes even when I outgrew my clothes. She would take my sister shopping but for me she would buy a piece of fabric and sew something and tell me I had to wear it or have nothing. So when you are down to three shirts you wear the ugly fourth shirt. She always gave my sister the nicest toys for Christmas. When I was little I hoped that just once I would get a nice toy for Christmas but my mom always made sure that any nice girl’s toy that she found went to my sister. When I was 8 my mom accused me of doing well in school just to make my sister feel bad. I was 8, I didn’t pay any attention to how my sister was doing in school. I never looked at her school work, never looked at her report cards, never asked her how she was doing in school, I was oblivious to how she was doing in school but my mom was comparing and she had decided that I would be retarded because I was born premature so I was “stealing” smartness from my sister by doing better than her at school.

        There really are people who aren’t nice and they show it by pulling petty, rude stunts. The LW has probably never been on the receiving end of his sister’s version of ugly because she never felt threatened or in competition with him before and now she does. Or she really hates his wife because they’ve had a confrontation but I think he’d have at least heard his wife’s side of it if that had happened.

        Link
      • FireStar

        FireStar November 19, 2014, 2:43 pm

        What the hell?? Aw. I want to take 8 year old Skyblossum out shopping and ply her with toys and cookies.

        Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 3:34 pm

        When I look at both of my kids I can’t imagine treating either of them like that. I can’t imagine picking on any child, let alone my own child.

        Link
      • FireStar

        FireStar November 19, 2014, 4:00 pm

        Unbelievable. I just get a visceral reaction to hearing things like this. I just want to scoop up all the poor children and shower them with the love they should have as their birthright. I’m glad you have a family of your own and that the absurd treatment you had as a child didn’t leave you irreparably damaged. And I’m still willing to ply you with cookies. 🙂

        Link
      • avatar

        ktfran November 19, 2014, 4:36 pm

        Dude. Are you effing kidding me? What is wrong with people? I’m sorry you were raised like that skyblossom. I can’t even. I’m glad you’re happy now though!

        Link
      • something random

        something random November 19, 2014, 9:55 pm

        I’m sorry you had to go through all of that, Skyblossom. It’s wonderful that you worked so hard with your own family. You have such a strong, maternal voice on this site. It’s really admirable to take a crappy childhood and use it to become such a solid adult.

        I know this sounds strange and I’m probably projecting from my own therapy, but rather than favoring your sister, I wonder if your mom was jealous of you. Its a weird thought to have about your own kids but some women are truly that lacking in a sense of self. They may not even realize what they are feeling. A lot of times it comes out as disapproval, anger, or just general distain. A quick comparison to a non-threatening child is an easy way to justify and explain uncomfortable feelings. Again, I’m just talking about my own shit here (with my mom, not my kids thank god). I’m just sharing in the chance that its worth something to you.

        Link
      • avatar

        RedroverRedrover November 19, 2014, 1:28 pm

        Plenty of guys are petty too. You know like the ones who complain about how some other guy at work gets all the attention, or the boss likes him better, and that’s why he gets promoted instead of them? They’re just petty about different stuff. And usually people don’t use the word “petty” to describe them.

        Link
      • Portia

        Portia November 20, 2014, 9:37 am

        The Prettiest Sex? Yes. I think you have a typo 😉

        Link
      • mylaray

        mylaray November 19, 2014, 1:14 pm

        I think it’s kind of sad to assume the woman must be petty. If the sexes were reversed I don’t think people would have the same reaction. The LW is the one who left out pertinent info, seemingly to make him look better, is what I think.

        Link
      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 19, 2014, 1:33 pm

        He did make it a joke and put on an emoticon.

        Link
      • Portia

        Portia November 20, 2014, 9:39 am

        And a typo, I think. It’s OK, I’m sure I forget the “r” in “prettiest” too from time to time. 🙂

        Link
  • avatar

    NavyWife November 19, 2014, 12:08 pm

    I do find it surprising that the parents were complicit in the “cover-up”. That’s what leads me to believe there is more to the story/history than what LW is telling us.

    Reply Link
    • bittergaymark

      bittergaymark November 19, 2014, 12:15 pm

      E X A C T L Y !!

      Reply Link
    • something random

      something random November 19, 2014, 2:08 pm

      I agree. If the sister were just a major bitch or jealous or an attention hog it seems the letter writer would have written more about it. Its strange that everyone went to such an effort not to mention it. A truly bitchy person would go out of their way to make sure the couple found out.

      LW made it known he was upset and the sister made it known she feels ignored when planning most of the time. I think lw will learn more later on at future family junctions by observing if sister goes out of her way to include in the future or keeps behaving strangely. Until then it might just end up being one of those mysteries he has to let go of, or celebrate alone with the parents as skyblossom suggested.

      Reply Link
  • avatar

    bostonpupgal November 19, 2014, 12:12 pm

    Wendy’s response is wonderful. As someone who deals regularly with hurtful behavior from a very close relative with BPD, I can add some tips on how to approach your family.
    1. Keep it short. Tell your parents and your sister about your hurt and disappointment, and stress that the worst part is that your sister intentionally hid it from you and excluded you, and that your parents kept it from you after the fact.
    2. Do not engage in their justifications, excuses, etc. When your sis or parents claim she tried to involve you, point out that you never one received a phone call or communication of any kind. Say that you kno beyond a doubt you were purposely excluded, and leave it at that. If they protest or try to bring it up again, just say “we’ve already covered this. Your actions were hurtful and exclusionary”
    3. Set your limits. Decide what the consequences of this are. Are you no longer willing to be close with your sister? Do you and your wife want to distance yourself from the family or future celebrations? Tell them that they’ve lost your trust, and tell them how they can earn it back and what your expectations are in the future.
    4. As Wendy said, ask your sister why she did this. Does she agree your relationship is a good one? Express your confusion and dismay. Acknowledge your own shortcomings and contributions to this problem.
    5. Stay calm and respectful. Do not get caught up in side arguments. Do not name call, accuse, or presume to know what the intentions of others were. Know that getting this off of your chest will need to be enough, you can’t force an apology. Set limits for the future.

    Reply Link
  • Astronomer

    Astronomer November 19, 2014, 2:05 pm

    Dude, I feel for you. I am also the not-favorite sibling, and my mom never fails to make it obvious during every visit and phone conversation. Now that my mom is dying and my younger sister is useless, my mom is having me get all her financial stuff in order. She wasn’t even embarrassed when I saw that my sister was listed as the beneficiary on all her assets and that all her online passwords are my sister’s name. But I digress. Most parents aren’t this obvious about which kid they prefer, and the best ones never show it.
    .
    For some parents, favoring one sibling over another is the hill they want to die on. In my mom’s case, literally. In your parents’ case, it sounds like they’re in their twilight years and they’re not likely to switch sides now. You may have a cordial or even good relationship with all of them, but a lifetime of playing favorites divides families into weird little factions. In my family, my sister freaks out of it even so much as seems like my mom likes me, because she feels like her status as favorite might be in jeopardy. On the other hand, she can’t very well ally herself with me, because she doesn’t want to be associated with the “bad” sister and jeopardize her status in that way. Your parents will do what your sister says because they want to keep her happy. She will continue to try to control all the special things so as not to lose her status as favorite. This probably isn’t going to change, especially now that you’re established adults and your parents are in their later years.
    .
    Wendy gave you some good advice, but I’d like to add that when you’re the not-favorite, you have to work extra-hard to not let this shit bother you. I mean, it can be so damaging to your other relationships, because you question why anyone would choose you. It helps to have your own family, and I don’t just mean your new wife (although that’s awesome–congrats!). Surround yourself with a family of your choosing, and learn to let yourself be their favorite person. Leave some distance between you and the family that’s rejecting you to make room for people who will treat you with love and include you in their special events. Start your own traditions.

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      SasLinna November 19, 2014, 2:45 pm

      Wow, I’m really sorry you have to deal with this level of favoritism. I think there’s a lot of highly irrational behavior going on in many families, so I can believe LW’s story. It really might just be that the sister wants to be exclusionary and the parents for some reason favor her.

      Reply Link
    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover November 19, 2014, 3:37 pm

      What’s wrong with some people? How can anyone possibly show this level of favouritism to one kid over another? It just seems completely insane. I mean, I understand having favourites. Your kids are still people, and sometimes you’ll connect with one better than the others, just like with any other people. That’s not something you can really help. What you CAN help is shit like this and what Skyblossom wrote above… at least treat them equally for fuck’s sakes. It’s times like this when I really wish we could institute some kind of test that you have to pass in order to be a parent. Not really, I guess, because eugenics, but jeez, wouldn’t it be nice if we could?

      Reply Link
      • FireStar

        FireStar November 19, 2014, 5:19 pm

        It makes me have violent thoughts that parents treat their children that way. I hope Skyblossum and Astronomer had other adults in their lives that loved up on them to compensate for the deficiency from their parents.

        Link
      • Astronomer

        Astronomer November 20, 2014, 5:03 am

        It was pretty rough growing up, but I have an awesome husband-cat-friend family that loves the crap out of me now. I’m very lucky! I’m the favorite person of at least one human and anywhere from two to three cats, depending on the day (or whatever influences weird cat brains).

        Link
      • something random

        something random November 20, 2014, 9:28 am

        You’re awesome, astronomer. I’ve always liked your comments; I like them even more now.

        Link
  • Astronomer

    Astronomer November 21, 2014, 1:44 am

    Aw, shucks. You’re great, too!

    Reply Link
    • avatar

      tzvifl November 27, 2014, 10:27 pm

      While Skyblosson and Astronomer have written some pretty horrible accounts of parental favouratism in the comments, I am puzzled why some commentators seem to think this applies to the LW. There is nothing in the letter than indicates that there is a general pattern of favouratism for the sister. In fact, I think if there was, it would likely have been mentioned, as it would provide a possible explanation for the behaviour of both the sister and especially the parents in the ugly episode described. But the letter writer seems completely at a loss for an explanation – and its seem to me he (I assume it is a he, though I guess it could also be a she) probably would not be so confused if this was part of a long-standing pattern of favouratism.

      So while I think the experiences of Skyblossom and Astronomer are well worth hearing in their own right, we should avoud making the assumption that they have much to do with the LW’s problem.

      On that, I agree with commentators that it likely has something to do with the new wife or the wedding. And also, I agree with Wendy that, frustrating as it is, there is a pretty good chance the LW will never know the explanation, and should try to get past it as best he or she is able.

      Reply Link

Leave a Comment