“My brother has always been my parent’s favourite. He is a bit hopeless and has never had a job. I’m doing OK, but have worked hard for the lifestyle I enjoy. Over the years, they have given him many handouts, and a year ago I discovered that they are leaving everything to him in their Will. Recently my father had Alzheimer’s diagnosed, and my mother expects me to be constantly on call. I have a job and two young children. My parents ‘dont want to bother’ my brother. How can I tell them it’s not fair’
Letter to The Times
Saul: “I know that you want to have a relationship with her but you’ve tried… you’ve tried.”
Norah: “But then I’ll never have a relationship with her like you do”
Saul: “What do I have with her? Tell me? I have a lie. The only reason that you think I feel closer to Mother is because I don’t fight her. I can’t live honestly in front of her. I’ve never been able to. But you do. You are yourself and I envy you that because it’s something I will never have. Really!”
Norah Walker and her brother, Saul. Brothers and Sisters.
As Philip Larkin said, your parents fuck you up… but sometimes it’s worse than that, they make you jealous of your brothers and sisters because they seem to have a better relationship with your siblings.
I know many children who could sympathise with the letter from The Times. It is often the way that the so-called ‘Golden Child’ does very little to deserve that reputation in his/her parents’ eyes but totally overshadows the vast amount of practical love and care given to those same parents by his/her sibling.
And yet it’s not always the other child’s fault, it is attitude and parenting of their parents. For some unknown reason, a mother or a father can just treat one child differently to the other. Perhaps it is because they are reacting to some long-forgotten incident in their own childhood and don’t want to inflict that hurt or pain on the child who reminds them so much of them… and yet they are quite unaware that they make the other child of the different gender put up with it.
One of my own children was distraught recently because it was felt that a sibling had had a far happier childhood. I was told that I had been extremely strict in my parenting but their father let the other sibling get away with murder… and because the other child knew that I had no authority, I could not be strict in the same way.
There were clearly overwhelming feelings of exclusion and victimisation – even though it was reiterated that it was not my fault.
I didn’t feel too happy about my attempts to raise children that day. I know that I was a good parent – firm but fair most of the time. But there were definitely times when my frustration with their father’s inability to do the right thing boiled over into rage that I vented with them.
I am ashamed of some of those outbursts and I have tried to apologise. I have had to accept that I did the best I could under the circumstances and, looking back… maybe I should have separated from him then. But they loved him and I was worried that making them choose would be a terrible thing to do, whilst leaving them with him would leave no discipline in the house at all… as well as repeating the action of my own mother. So I stuck with it… and attempted to ameliorate the wishy-washy line he insisted on taking, resulting in these feelings of sibling rivalry.
But the problem still exists every time that child returns to the family home for a visit. Viewing things through the same coloured spectacles, the same rules seem to apply to the visitor but not for the child who continues to live at home.
I have tried to talk to their father but he seems totally unable to see what has happened, what is still happening because he refuses to accept that it is anything to do with his actions.
It makes for a poor relationship between those two children which I can do nothing to rectify. I have tried to explain that we no longer live in the family home so we cannot expect… or even hope… to change things that are routine there.
And we must both accept that there were things that happened which we cannot change but that does not mean that there is or was any less love for either child and that feelings of sibling rivalry must not be allowed to fester.
Originally posted 2011-11-01 08:00:11. Republished by Blog Post Promoter