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Reader grows up in sister’s shadow

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Updated: October 19, 2012 6:03AM



Dear Annie: My brother and I grew up in the shadow of our older sister, “Nina.” Nina had new clothes while we had stained, torn hand-me-downs. If I asked for something, I was called a “spoiled, selfish brat.” If our plans conflicted with Nina’s, we had to cancel ours. Mom always favored her. Nina’s needs always came before ours. My father didn’t notice or didn’t care.

I am now an adult, living on my own, and my mother still treats me like this. The thing that kills me is that she will ask me for an extreme favor and become furious if I turn her down. Of course, when I ask her for help, she runs for the hills.

My boyfriend and I are talking about marriage and children. I don’t want this cycle repeated. I cannot have my mother treating my children as second-class grandchildren.

The things she has said to me over the years still hurt to this day. But I do want a relationship with my parents. Is it possible to have one like they have with Nina? Is it worth it?

Distraught Daughter

Dear Distraught: You are not likely to have Nina’s relationship with your parents, but it doesn’t mean yours can’t improve. Changing how you respond when dealing with Mom could change how she behaves. At the very least, it will alter how unhappy the situation makes you.

You are smart to recognize that this pattern should not be repeated with your children. Ask your mother to come with you for counseling to work on this. She may be willing for the sake of having a decent relationship with her future grandchildren. If not, please go on your own.

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