It’s a tough realisation when you start noticing that one or both of your parents are treating your brother differently to you. As a woman, we have enough of this out there in the world to not suffer fro disparity in our own families. So whether you realised it a young age or you’re just coming to terms with it now, here’s how to navigate this delicate situation.
When faced with parents who treat their daughters and their sons differently, you’ll be in one of two scenarios. The first one being that your parents don’t realise what they’re doing. They might have faced similar disparities with their own sibling growing up and therefore don’t even realise that their behaviour is problematic and affecting you. In this situation, the first step would be to try and open the lines of communication. Before sitting down, write down some occasions where they treated you differently and how this made you feel. Sit down with them and calmly talk through the situation. Now’s not the time to start shouting and pointing fingers. This will only make them less receptive to what you have to say.
The second scenario where parents might treat their daughter differently to their son, is due to their culture and education. In certain cultures, women’s needs still very much come second to that of men. You might be expected to do more chores at home than your sibling or you might not be addressed in the same way. You might even receive less affection (whether that’d be in the forms of verbal/physical affection or gifts). This is a bit more difficult to manage because the problem isn’t that your parents don’t realise what they’re doing, it’s that they don’t see the issue with it.
Parents Treating Your Differently to Your Brother: Put Your Foot Down
This might come across as a very confrontational approach but if communication did not work, you might want to try and question your parents every time they’re caught in the act of treating you differently. They’re asking you to help clean out the garage for the third time this year and yet your brother gets to sit and watch netflix all day? Point it out by suggesting that on this occasion, he can help them instead. This probably won’t be very well received by your parents who will probably wonder what has gotten into you. But if you feel comfortable standing up to them, this might be a worthwhile exercise.
Parents Treating Your Differently to Your Brother: Get Help From Your Sibling(s)
Now chances are, if your brother is receiving preferential treatment from your parents, he will be unlikely to have noticed this himself or have any desire to change it. After all, when people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination. But try and discuss it with him and your other siblings without your parents present. Let him know how this is making you feel and that you would appreciate him having your back in front of your parents.
Are your parents still treating your brother differently? Therapy can really help you. Now therapy is sadly not always possible for everyone due to financial or time constraints. However if it seems unlikely your parents will change their behaviour, you might want to go down that route.
The therapist won’t be able to change your parents’ behaviour but they might be able to help you find ways to cope with it. They can equip you with the tools you need so that you can live your life happily and not let this affect your self esteem.
If your family is open to coming to therapy with you, this could also help your relationship with them and open their eyes to their comportment. Although it certainly won’t be easy to convince them.