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My Parents Always Compare Me to My Successful Brother

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From a teen Australia: my brother is successful and smart. i’m not. because of my brother my parents are pressuring me so much and im expected to accomplish many stuff and be the first in everything.

just today, i found out i didn’t get a place in a competition which made my parents tell me that i don’t work hard and compare me to my brother. i didn’t need and didn’t want to hear that.

i also have no friends. its hard and im already not confident with my body and outer appearance. the lack of friends, real friends, really plummets me self esteem.

its the end of the semester and i have so much work and projects to do. there’s also my extracurriculars; basketball, clubs etc. i just feel that maybe im expected to do a lot of things and those things are piling up.

im pretty sure i treat everyone in a polite manner and im usually the one making everyone laugh and joking around. the difference is that now even though i do joke around i feel absolutely nothing inside.

i know all these problems seem petty and not a big deal but they’re really affecting me and how i behave in every day life. i depend too much on coincidences and pure luck and gambling.

please i just need someone to talk to. my parents are obviously no help, they usually discard my problems or use them against me later on. i have no friends that i can trust. and the lack of boys that are interested in me are also making me feel under the weather. i fail at everything. i literally can not do anything right. i procrastinate. im sorry if this is stupid or unworthy but right now my head hurts and i just can’t …. could you please tell me ANYTHING that might help me?

My Parents Always Compare Me to My Successful Brother

Answered by on -


Your problems are not unworthy or petty. Your problems are your problems and they are giving you pain. I’m happy to try to be helpful.

To give your parents the benefit of the doubt: They may think that comparing you to your brother will inspire you to do better. Unfortunately, it’s a strategy that seldom works. Your brother is your brother. You are you. You each have talents and gifts and interests of your own. Sadly, pressuring you to be like your brother is preventing you from finding yourself.

At this point, you have adopted a strategy that may be relieving some of the pressure but is making things even tougher for you. Procrastinating and avoiding means that you don’t “fail” at something. You can tell yourself that if you did it, it would be fine. It’s a strategy that saves your pride but ultimately will set you back.

One thing you are apparently good at is social skills. You know how to make other people comfortable. Not everyone can do that. That’s an important asset in making friends. So — let’s start from the beginning.

I suggest you seriously cut back on extra-curricular activities that don’t give you joy. Not everyone is cut out for athletics. Not everyone can juggle many, many activities and do well.

Really think about what gives you satisfaction and makes you feel alive. I’m hoping that there is something within that realm that will put you in touch with people who share your interests. A bonus as far as your self-esteem goes would be if that activity makes some kind of contribution towards making the world a better place. If you get really engaged in that activity, chances are that friendships will naturally evolve — especially since you know how to make other people laugh.

Limit yourself to doing that activity and school. It’s better for you to do two things well instead of a lot of things badly. Many successful people are terrific at only one or two endeavors. Think about the famous people you have heard of. Most of them have focused on one major interest and have become very, very good at it.

Do try to talk to your parents. This is going to take every bit of maturity you’ve got. Calmly, tell them you understand that they mean well and want the best for you. Explain that you are very different from your brother and that being compared negatively to him is making you miserable. And here’s the most important thing: Give them a plan. Ask for their support in focusing on school and the one thing that you’ve chosen to give life more meaning. If they hear that you see a problem and have a strategy for solving it, they may feel relieved. They may be motivated to be helpful if they know what kind of help you need.

If you don’t succeed in getting their support, start working on your plan on your own. Stop relying on “luck” and take charge of your own life. Dress for success. Get enough sleep and take care of your body. Research does show that when we treat ourselves well and act “as if” we are already at our goal, we have a better chance of getting there.

Once you have some success, do enlist the help of your school counselor or a teacher you trust in talking to your folks. We parents don’t always get the kid we had in mind. Instead, we often get someone who shows us equally valuable traits that enrich our lives in unexpected ways.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Parents Always Compare Me to My Successful Brother

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). My Parents Always Compare Me to My Successful Brother. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 13 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.