You’ve probably heard that it’s difficult being the older or the middle child, as their parents suddenly seem much more interested in the other children. This is difficult to take if the child has become used to getting all of their parents’ attention and affection. It may be even more difficult for children with siblings who are disabled, as they suddenly need much more of their parents’ care, making the other child feel left behind.
An issue stemming from this is shared by u/ScreamingAH, asking whether she is the jerk for finally snapping at her parents and her brother, as he would always be prioritized over her.
More info: Reddit
Feeling neglected by parents is very difficult, especially it feels like they always prioritize your siblings over you
Image credits: Jeffrey Reed (not actual image)
A woman wanted to ask for advice about her finally snapping at her adult autistic brother who was always in her parents’ spotlight while she was mistreated
Image credits: u/ScreamingAH
Exhausted of always being in second place, OP moved out and things were fine until her parents “surprised” her for Christmas, coming unannounced to stay for a month
Image credits: u/ScreamingAH
After her brother broke something precious to her every day of the month they were there, she finally boiled over and screamed at him to get away from her
Image credits: u/ScreamingAH
The poster mentions feeling guilty for screaming at her brother as he doesn’t know better but she still means the things she said to him
The Original Poster (OP), a 27-year-old woman, begins her story by saying that she has an autistic brother who has special needs and is 3 years her senior. She mentions that her parents have always adored him and taught her to put his needs above everything else.
When OP was growing up, she was always in the background. Everything was focused on her brother, from her getting high marks “for her brother” to her winning medals which would then be given to the brother to keep.
The presents she got would also be for her brother, she had no possessions that she could truly call hers, and she couldn’t touch his stuff as it would upset him.
All of this combined made her resent her brother over the years. OP said that she understands that it isn’t her brother’s fault, but she “couldn’t help hating him.” She didn’t want to take her feelings out on her parents, who were doing their best, or her brother, who couldn’t help it, so she moved out as soon as she could. This was a huge relief for her, as she would visit her parents twice a year, a couple of days at a time.
Although the issue seemed patched up by OP, seeing her parents and brother sparingly, the hurt was renewed when her family decided to show up at her place for Christmas. Unannounced. For a month.
Image credit: Garry Knight (not the actual image)
Understandably, all of OP’s childhood frustrations came back, perhaps exacerbated by her brother’s behavior which had also gotten worse. With each day, he would go rummaging around her stuff and break things, at least one thing per day, with some being sentimental, others expensive.
The event that filled OP’s cup to overflowing was his breaking the lock on her room and ruining many of her prized possessions. She finally snapped, screaming at him to get away from her, further saying “that I don’t ever want to see him ever again.” OP says she is unsure, but she may have said that she wished her brother never existed.
The screaming set the brother off, making him throw a tantrum and hurt her parents, who got stressed out.
Following this incident, OP’s mom has been calling every day, crying on the phone for hours, and apologizing, but still saying that she shouldn’t have been so cruel. Her father also called, saying that he is disappointed by OP being so callous.
OP finishes the story by saying that she feels very guilty for her words, but at the same time, she meant them. She understands that her brother can’t help himself and that he hadn’t wanted to cause her harm, but she is done with the excuses.
Image credits: Polina Zimmerman (not the actual image)
It may be especially difficult for siblings of special needs children to cope with the situation, who may begin resenting their siblings and parents for feeling left behind. A study has found that these siblings have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and difficulties with their peers. Low-income families are even more vulnerable in these cases as they have less access to resources.
But there are various strategies for parents and siblings of these children that can do wonders. Child Mind Institute has some advice for these parents and siblings.
They say that parents should create a support system for their disabled children, with after-school programs and help from extended family members. They also mention that children should be spoken to openly and included in decision-making. Also, parents should set aside special time for each child, so they may bond with you and have something to cherish and look forward to.
As for siblings, the Child Mind Institute also has several things to do to ensure their well-being. An important factor is to reach out to others because the more you hold in your feelings, the worse it gets. They can also have time dedicated to their sibling to grow closer and understand the other person better. Finally, it’s important to dedicate time for yourself as well – so that you don’t get burned out by life and have time to wind down.
The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds also emphasizes the importance of parents not making their children feel too responsible. The siblings of children with disabilities may set unrealistic expectations for themselves, and it’s the parents’ job to reassure them that they are loved and appreciated no matter what.
These strategies perhaps would have helped OP’s parents to be more considerate of both of their children. As it stands, it seems that their daughter was not only neglected but also mistreated, minimizing all of her achievements and woes to those of her brother, allowing resentment between her and the family to fester for an exceptionally long time.
The post received nearly 9 thousand likes and 1.4 thousand comments, a significant amount of which supported OP, telling her that her parents have wronged her. People were shocked at the fact that her parents just showed up to her door like that and for so long. Some commenters speculated that the parents may be trying to “train” OP to take care of her brother when they are no longer able to.