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I feel like my parents favour my sibling

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  • This topic has 8 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by avatarPhoebe.
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  • #973308 Reply

    Hi all, i’m new here, i came across this forum as i was searching for advice on a family issue. Since the beginning of the year i’ve felt like my parents have started to favour my half sister. I feel ridiculous just by saying it, slightly jealous by it (i’ll be honest, i do), and then guilty for feeling jealous about it! But mostly i feel hurt – the kinda deep down in my chest, heartbroken, kind of hurt. I’m not the most confident person anyway and i’ve always struggled with anxiety and sometimes depression, i live alone, i’m 30 and single, never really been in a relationship, i don’t have many fiends or much of a life really. But i’ve always been really close with my Mum and Dad – they mean the world to me. We would normally talk on the phone several times a day and before Covid i would often visit them, but because of the situation with social distancing rules i haven’t been able to see them as much as usual this year and i feel like it’s affected our relationship. Meanwhile my sister (who lives a little closer to them, doesn’t have to rely on public transport, or worry about passing Covid on to them it seems) has continued to see them throughout – more than before in fact as they didn’t really see much of each other prior cos my sister was always too busy (as i mentioned we are half sisters, we share a Dad but my Mum is her Step Mum, she has her own Mum who i hardly know). Other than being concerned about the risk of her passing Covid on to our parents i was happy to see her visiting them more as she has a little boy and i’m glad my parents are now forming a bond with their grandson, but i can’t help notice that they’ve started to treat me differently now? It’s almost like i feel forgotten, shoved to the back and well, invisible really. They no longer call me and whenever i call them they’re either too busy to talk or they spend the time constantly talking about my sister. I can tell from the tone of their voice that they’re instantly disappointed to hear me on the other end of the line when i call. I know, i sound jealous and ridiculous, don’t i? But it’s like they’re absolutely infatuated with her and whenever i try to talk to them about something i did or something i was excited about they’ll instantly reply with something about my sister. For example, i excitingly told my Mum i had bought some new running shoes (i had intended on telling her about my plan to start going running and hopefully getting fit, then maybe ask if she’d like to even join me eventually at some point if she wanted) but she instantly replied with “oh your sister had some lovely new trainers on yesterday…they were…*excitingly goes on to tell me all about my sisters trainers without even acknowledging anything i said*. This doesn’t just happen occasionally either, it happens EVERY time i say something, they somehow manage to turn it around to something to do with my sister. Another thing my they do is whenever me and my sister are at our parents house they pull me down and make jokes on my behalf to amuse her. My Dad also inherited some money at the beginning of the year which he kindly offered to give a portion of to me and my sister, however i discovered he rushed to the bank within days of receiving it to transfer my sisters part of the inheritance to her, whilst it took him months to give me my part and even then i had to go to him for it. I was thankful for the money but it’s worth noting that my sister is quite well off (and has a husband supporting her, so there was absolutely no rush for it) yet meanwhile i was struggling to make ends meet, going without food, whilst also paying for my parents expensive tv subscription bills (something i sort for them), which my Dad knew about but obviously didn’t care.
    I feel ridiculous for feeling this way but after a while it’s started to really get me down. I’ve tried to explain to my parents how i feel, first in a jokingly sorta way (like “oh we know who’s favourite now, don’t we) but they just laughed it off. I worry about bringing it up properly with my Dad as i’m scared it’ll make him dislike me even more. When i try to tell my Mum in a serious manner she shrugs it off, refuses to listen to how i actually feel and why (even held the phone away from her ear at one point whilst i was talking) and tells me i’m being stupid or jealous. Sometimes i feel like she actually wants me to be jealous, like it’s some sick battle between me and my sister for her attention. Years ago, after a visit from a cousin of mine, my Mum drunkenly told me she wished my cousin was her daughter instead of me because my cousin was confident, funny and socialised easily with everyone (i was awkward, nervous around people at the time and according to her everyone thought i was weird). I’ve never really forgotten it and i get the same awful ache in my heart when i think about it as i do when i think about the situation with my sister now. Has anyone been in the same situation or can anyone please recommend what i should do? Should i keep tying to bring it up with them but risk looking like a jealous idiot? Or am i being silly about it all? I wish i didn’t feel like this, i can’t stop crying all of the time and i feel like everyone would be better off if i wasn’t here anymore.

    #973442 Reply

    A few things:
    1. I think a lot of this is depression and anxiety talking. If you aren’t in therapy already please start asap. Feeling like the world would be better off without you, crying constantly, feeling like there is unspoken hatred or hostility in conversations or you aren’t worthy of other’s love – all of this is pretty classic depression and anxiety. Treatment and medication can help so much with this.
    2. I think it’s worth accepting that you need to cultivate some other areas of your life so you aren’t so reliant on the approval of your family and so they aren’t your only social outlet. I know that’s hard to do right now during the pandemic, but I’d start researching some opportunities to volunteer, join a book club, a professional organization related to your field of work, and other ways to make connections.
    3. Honestly, even if there is some favoritism going on, your parents taking longer to give you money or often bringing up things your sister is doing does not rise to any egregious level. It sounds like you’ve tried to broach this subject with them, like, a lot. And they aren’t receptive to the conversation. It can be hard to feel like you’ve got to walk on eggshells or reassure someone who you don’t think is being reasonable. They may also feel like you’re trying to control their relationship with their other daughter. I think it may be worth dropping this for a while and focusing a lot more on your own mental health. Your self worth should not be this wrapped up in what other people say and do. I have a lot of compassion for the grief you’re feeling, and this year is just so damn tough it’s affected a lot of peoples’ mental health (mine included), and I understand clinging to the relationships you value most and feel safe. But you’ve got to make some changes so you can have a better and fuller life. Something tells me once you’ve got your depression under control and you’ve got some other friendships and activities going on a lot of this will be solved.

    #973774 Reply

    Thank you, i do rely on them an awful lot. I feel guilty for the so many phone calls i make to them and just being so clingy. They’re all i have though and they mean everything to me which is why it hurts so much. I’ve tried to distance myself a little before by not calling as much and i haven’t been visiting them anyway due to Covid but i’m not sure if it helped, i felt like they forgot me even more when i wasn’t trying to keep in contact, and it left me feeling lonelier and less liked/wanted/needed. I definitely need other things in my life right now, thanks for the suggestions. My anxiety makes it so damn difficult to get out there and find hobbies and make friends though. I don’t work (i receive benefits for my anxiety/depression), i do everything on my own, i used to attend concerts one or twice a year with a friend (who i rarely see as she lives in another city) then Covid put a stop to that completely. I do so wish i had a normal life. I’ll definitely try to get my depression under control. Thanks for the advice and for taking the time to read my very long post.

    #973851 Reply

    I do think there is some not great behavior on your parents side. For example, if they’re regularly putting you down in ways that involve your looks, life situation, personality, mental health, etc., and not just good natured family ribbing – then that’s a problem, and even more of a reason to take a step back. Again, a therapist can help you sort out what behavior is harmful and you should set boundaries around, what is more your depression/anxiety talking, and what might improve if you made some changes. For example, if you’re calling a lot and find that it isn’t being reciprocated or they aren’t enthusiastic about communicating, why is that? Are they simply not calling because you tend to call first, and the enthusiasm is there but your depression makes it hard to see? Is the frequency of calls maybe more than they’d like, or when you call are you talking mainly about your insecurities, and it’s just too much? You can make some tweaks there to everyone’s benefit. Or are they truly not enthusiastic and being unkind? I don’t know the answer – but a good therapist can help get to the bottom of this and make a plan.

    #974059 Reply

    Yes, your parents seem to be playing favorites and not giving you the support you need. You are old enough that you need to find your own support system — friends (in person and on-line), chat groups, members of a hobby/book/volunteer group, neighbors, therapist (on-line or in person). When you set yourself up with your parents as your only support group, you are inviting a world of hurt down the road.

    What your parents are doing is common and may become more equitable after the lockdown is over. Your sister visits, you don’t. Your parents are enjoying being grandparents. Not fair to you, but extremely common.

    As a first step, I recommend latching onto a compatible internet community and finding a Zoom-based therapist.

    I don’t understand why you would pay your parents’ TV bills if you don’t live with them. I also don’t understand why you seem not to have a job. If you do have a job, don’t you meet anyone at work?

    #974080 Reply

    Your depression and anxiety do seem to be the root of many of your problems here and I agree you need to find professional help. I’m not sure where you are, but I hope you will find a therapist who is accepting new teletherapy clients. If you can better manage your mental and emotional health, I think that alone will help you live a more fulfilling life, pursue new hobbies, put yourself out there to meet new people, etc.

    Some of what you write here about slights from your parents seem to be your perception (e.g., saying the sound disappointed to hear your voice at the other end of the line) and it’s hard to tell if it’s objectively true or just your depression telling you it’s true. But some of it sounds… noto great or even pretty bad (e.g., your mom dismissing your feelings, telling you she wishes your cousin were here daughter). I have a sometimes-toxic family, and therapy really helped me with setting boundaries, having difficult conversations with them (and unpacking those difficult conversations), learning how to shut down inappropriate behavior, etc.

    #974316 Reply

    I think you have too much time on your hands and you would be better off with a hobby like macrame or hand crafting
    Try doing internet virtual tours of museums or tourists sites.
    Look for free ebooks.
    I have been doing adult coloring on my Iphone. It is mind occupying and has it’s own way to aid relaxation.
    You may be able to do some volunteering on line. Google online volunteer sites. There may be research or general office you could do.
    See what kind of Covid 19 precautions are used in a soup kitchen. They always need kitchen help or servers. Getting out of your home 2-3 days a week helping others and meeting new people would be very good for you. If you are near a VAMC, volunteers are always welcome. Check with Volunteer Svs and see if they have something safe available like mailroom, Medical Records or laundry.
    Your parents sound insensitive to me and do not seem to understand their behavior exacerbates your anxiety. Once you get busy with serious counseling. exploring your own talents and a commitment to help others, you may not need more than a quick check in with your folks from time to time. Keep it brief and friendly. Also—–Do not hesitate to inform them that you are NOT the family joke. Be respectful but firm!

    #974990 Reply

    I do think the majority of this is your depression. You need to get some good help for yourself. Distraction is good, too. Read, play games, listen to podcasts, cook some awesome pasta.

    Your mother is cruel. I cannot even imagine saying something so hurtful to my daughter. That was terrible. So, your family kind of sucks. A lot of them do! It’s not out of the ordinary to have dysfunction and issues with your family. I don’t say this to minimize your pain, but to point out that there are many who share the same or similar pain as yours. So what you need to do is find a good therapist, and take some space and create some boundaries with your family. I do think making some good friends could take a lot of this pressure off.

    #975076 Reply

    I know you said you have diagnosed anxiety and depression — are you getting help for it? Because one of the big things it does it make every little thing just awful. Get help if you aren’t already.

    Your parents are people, and they’re making mistakes. You are too (it’s not your fault though) — you’re putting up with them being mean. Don’t. Don’t pay for things, don’t let them put you down, don’t let them compare you to anyone. It’s okay to say “that’s not very nice.” You can’t make them love you more or less, no matter what you do. They’re your parents. So put yourself and your mental health first.

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