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Counseling/My Mother Favors My Brother Over Me

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Question
Hi Sir,
I am a 34 year old woman and I feel sad.  I am fulltime working mother of 3. My mother watches my youngest child, my son while I am at work. I have two girls in school. I have an older brother whom I feel my mother has always treated better than me. He is married with 1 infant, his wife is from overseas. My mother uses the fact that she watches my son to get me to do whatever she wants.  Whenever I don't she mentions daycare and how she is tired, etc. It breaks my heart and now I am just preparing myself to put my son in daycare when he will be 15 months. She occasionally makes me feel like a burden when I need something from her, but with my brother, she makes him feel entitled. My mother has always treated my brother better than me and in anything she takes his side even at the expense of being dishonest. My brother's wife is so lazy, from the day he married this woman she makes no effort to know me, she wants to be alone. Yet my father is much more direct, but never on my side. So, when my mother is upset with me about something, he is sure to speak for her very direct and sure that I am wrong and again making me feel like I am a burden.  I feel hurt and tired of these people, but they are my family. I am now looking to move out of the area and just to stay away so I can show them, that I don't need anything from them. But keeping this a secret when I found a house and buy it.  What advice do you have for me? I am afraid that one day I will do this with my two girls and my son.

Answer
Hello Mary

Everything you have written here makes perfect sense. Your thinking seems clear and healthy, and your emotional response also seems appropriate in response to what is going on in your family. In my 40 years of professional counseling, I have seen many cases in which families showed a gender bias, and favored the male children over the females. This is very damaging, and often goes unacknowledged, because it is so subtle and "normal." This apparently happened in your family, and is still happening in your current situation.

Again, your feelings are completely understandable, and your decision to put some distance between your family and yourself sounds like a wise one. There is a very helpful technique for creating healthy boundaries, that can best be summarized by the idea of "finding the distance from which you can love them." For example, you can be very close to your children, your best friends, and perhaps others, and still feel love for and from them. With your mother (and perhaps other family members), however, you may need more distance before you will be able to feel love in your heart for her. This distance may or may not be physical/geographical, but the physical distance can sometimes really help with the emotional distance. Other forms of distance include, spending less time together, fewer and shorter phone calls, and not sharing personal problems with them. Read more about personal boundaries.

I assure you that you will not do this with your two girls and your son. You are healthy enough to see how dysfunctional gender bias is, and wise enough to consider moving away from this family system that is so wounding to you. Make every effort to look for and focus on the beauty, creativity, uniqueness and value that each of your children brings, without focusing on their gender at all. Look at who they are as individual human beings, which is far deeper and more important than their roles as females or male.

It will also help you, Mary, to embrace and affirm your own gender. Do this in the form of journaling about what you like and appreciate about yourself as a woman and a female. This is for the purpose of making sure that you don't unconsciously carry forward the bias that has been communicated by your family. It will also help you to journal about all of your past experiences in which you were dishonored, neglected, overlooked or left out in your family. This will help you understand and release the pain associated with these experiences.

Create a joyful and fulfilling life for yourself and your children, Mary. Create boundaries that allow you to accept and love your family as they are...even though there may be things about them you don't like.

You can do this. You are worthy of respect, kindness and equitable treatment in all of your relationships.

My best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

Counseling

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William DeFoore, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions about depression, anxiety, anger issues, marriage issues, parenting, addiction issues and general life coping problems. I will give a positive perspective, offering encouragement and an action plan about the next best steps for you to take.

Experience

I have been in practice as a counselor for over 38 years, working with individuals, couples and families with good results.

Publications
I am the author of: *Anger: Deal With It, Heal With It, Stop It From Killing You. Health Communications, Inc. 2004. *Anger Among Angels: Shedding Light On The Darkness Of The Human Soul. Health Communications, Inc. 2000. *Serai: Bringing The Children Home. Wingspan Press, 2007

Education/Credentials
B.A. in Sociology; M.A. in Clinical Psychology; Ph.D. in Counselor Education; Licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor

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All client information is kept confidential.

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