I don’t understand why my parents hate me.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From an early age, I have always had issues with my brother. He is two years younger than me. I’m not too sure myself where these issues came from but from as far back as I remember I have been very jealous of the attention he gets from my parents.

I’m a good kid, I don’t smoke, drink or take drugs. I get excellent grades in school and even have a part-time job and am completely self sufficient — I buy and wash my own clothes, textbooks, lunch money etc. My brother on the other hand started to go off the rails about two years ago. Now, aged 14, he smokes a lot of pot, smokes cigarettes WITH my parents, and goes out and drinks too. He has been suspended from school many times and never does any school work. He has even stolen over £350 from me over the past year.

I’ve tried numerous times to talk to my parents about my jealousy, I even went to live with my grandparents last summer (which I loved) but my mother pressured me to live with them again. When I asked if I could go and live there again because I am completely miserable living with my parents, they take no notice. Seeing me cry and beg to leave seems to have no effect on them. They just call me selfish for wanting to be happy.

They are constantly buying my brother things and telling him they love him no matter what he does. He gets away with murder in our house. He has physically hurt me several times, smashed a glass bottle over my head, my mother witnessed this and did nothing. He has even thrown me down the stairs and broken my thumb with his bare hands. I get told off for the tiniest things, if I look at my brother at meal times i get sent to my room.

I want to maintain a good relationship with my parents because I love them dearly, but they have made me believe that I am an evil person. I’m not sure I can handle living here for much longer. Please help.

A: Sometimes in families like yours, the parents are so busy trying to save the kid who is risking his life and future, that they have little energy left for the kid who should be making them proud. I don’t think you’re “jealous.” I think you are a normal kid who isn’t getting enough parental notice. In an effort to keep your brother involved in the family and to have some influence with him, all of their focus is on him. They are lowering their expectations, letting him get away with horrible behavior, buying him things, and doing things like smoking with him. To their credit, they are not giving up on their son. To their shame, they are letting you get hurt (both physically and emotionally) in the process. I don’t think they don’t love you. I don’t think they don’t care. Their idea of what is okay in their home has gradually shifted as they have made concession after concession to manage your brother. That doesn’t make it okay. It just may explain what on the surface looks totally irrational.

Your parents see you as a kid so they’re not listening to you. You need another adult to try to reach them. What you didn’t tell me is what your grandparents think of the situation. Can they speak to your parents for you? If not, is there a counselor at your school or a pastor you could talk to who might intervene for you? I sincerely hope that someone who cares about you and your family can help your parents understand that giving in to your brother is not ultimately going to help him. They need to wake up to the fact that your brother’s behavior toward you is not normal sibling fighting. He’s assaulting you.

Your brother is fast approaching an age when it will be harder and harder to engage him in any kind of treatment. At 14, he might still be persuaded to participate. Your family needs a family therapist who is experienced with challenging teens to work with all of you. Meanwhile, if your parents can’t protect you from harm, they should seriously consider letting you live with your grandparents until they can make a home where everyone is safe.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Feb 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). I don’t understand why my parents hate me.. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/02/02/i-dont-understand-why-my-parents-hate-me/