Q My sister has always been my mum and dad’s ‘Golden Child’ – as I’ve recently heard it called. This title fits her to a tee. She’s prettier and smarter than me and she’s definitely their favourite. No doubt about that. But why? It’s not my fault that I don’t look better, or that I wasn’t that good at school. They paid for her to have extra classes after school, and they made sure she went to college and university. I left school at 16 and had to get a job in the local supermarket, where I still work.
What makes things worse is that she takes credit for my stuff and says it’s hers. I created a recipe and she made it and then said it was her own recipe. When I said she was lying they all turned on me and made out I was some kind of nut case who makes things up. She’s also stolen things of mine and said that I’d given them to her. I’m always seen as the bad one.
They put me down about my body, my personality, my job, my friends – there’s not one good thing they comment on. They talk to me as if I’m beneath them and they’re ashamed of me. Why is she their favourite and what can I do to make them like me too?
A You can’t make them like you. You have to like yourself in opposition to them. It’s their loss. In fact everyone loses.
Your sister is being given an inflated view of herself. She has become toxic in her own way. Life may well change that for her, but it will be a hard lesson.
Your parents have ‘split’ good from bad and projected one onto each of you. That’s something only they can stop doing, and first they’d need to acknowledge that they are doing this, and then figure out why.
They are not only neglecting your emotional needs they also seem to lack any empathy for how all this feels for you – which makes me wonder if their own childhood experiences were similar. Instead of feeling that pain they pass it over for you to feel instead – and they then focus upon the perfect one, or ‘golden child’ as you rightly call it.
It is crazy-making to have different sets of rules for each child. At least you can see how dysfunctional this all is. Sadly for you it may never change. Your parents need to do this to hide some inner pain of their own, and you happen to be a casualty of their sad drama. Their behaviour is abusive and you’ve been their powerless victim until now.
Please have a look at my free resources on my website – especially the short video and e-booklet about overcoming a troubled childhood.
It’s never too late to heal and transcend the emotional wounds of the past and stop them bleeding over the present and future.
When you learn how to re-parent yourself you can soothe and heal those emotional wounds inflicted by ignorant and self-centred parents who should have known better.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com – where you’ll find a page of FREE RESOURCES to help you on your road to self awareness, empowerment and growth