Sunday, December 17, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: Don't be resentful when parenting changes

Q: I'm the eldest of four children, my family's "guinea pig." Despite that, I have done very well, my parents were very supportive and I have generally loved being an eldest sister.

However, Brother is now 13 and applying to high schools. He and my parents feel an all-boys school is better than my high school, and although they say they are proud of me, I can't help but feel slighted. It also seems like my parents are putting more time into my brother than they did into me. They keep track of his homework, help him study for the standardized test coming up and so on. Dad also decided to teach Brother coding and robotics. I missed out on this, though he intends to teach me over break.

Part of me is really proud to see Brother being so successful, and part of me is jealous that I didn't get this kind of attention. How do I get over these feelings so I don't end up resentful?

Sibling

A: Parents often talk about how each of their kids has different needs. What you don't hear as much is that each kid often gets different parents. People change through experience, happenstance and just general erosion. You can't get mad at your parents for learning to be better parents.

You, as the oldest, got your novice parents' full attention as a baby while the youngest probably did some hard playpen time. That's just how big families make it all work. Then, as the older kids are successively catapulted out of the house, the youngest remains to soak up the full attention of now-veteran parents.

I can't tell you how to feel, but I can speak for myself: I try to save my jealousy and resentment for responses to the deliberate behavior of others, instead of wasting it on accidents of fate or timing.

(Then, of course, I try not to feel jealous or resentful at all because that just takes bad circumstances and adds bad feelings to them.)

So, take advantage of the coding and robotics lessons you're about to get instead of cursing the fact that you're getting them late.

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