July 5, 2013 - submitted by Lucy, United Kingdom

Q. TEAM ORACLE QUESTION #126
I always feel like I'm being treated differently by my parents. I do a lot for them and have always respected them, it just seems when something goes wrong and I'm not involved I constantly get picked on about something even if it's something so silly and small. I feel as if I get treated differently all the time. I feel as if I'm not listened to at times and that I'm just 'there'. Like when something goes go wrong between my brothers and sisters, I'm always the one getting told off even though I'm not involved in the situation, they always find something. I'm sick of it and struggling with ideas of what to do. I don't know if I'm overreacting or what? Hope you can help, Thank you


The Oracle replies:

I can’t help but wonder where you are in terms of age in regards to your brothers & sisters. It sounds like you have a big family so there are a lot of voices trying to be heard.
I would guess you may be the youngest and that’s perhaps why you’re not being listened to.
I have an older brother who I love dearly and despite only being two of us, sometimes he’d get me into trouble and because he was older and deemed more responsible, my parents tended to believe him when he shifted blame my way. It’s a part of sibling rivalry and growing up but that doesn’t mean you have to shut up and take it.

It might be worth writing your parents a letter to explain how you feel. Unless you feel brave enough to calling a family meeting where you can all sit together and discuss what’s going on.
There’s a technique that may work if you opt for a meeting. You have a wooden spoon and only the person holding it can speak without interruption. The spoon can be passed around so that everyone has a fair say.
The other thing I would advise is when you feel you’re being picked on or blamed – don’t shout. If you have objections, calmly say them and explain the situation. If nobody listens I’d be tempted to have a bell and ring it to divert and distract them. Once you have their attention, they may actually notice you have a point to make.
If you have a grandparent, aunty or uncle you think could help, try to get someone to assist your intervention.

I have said before that sometimes parents have their own thing going on and children can be on the receiving end of their frustrations, stresses and tiredness. I don’t think that’s an excuse by the way, I still think you are entitled to the respect you’re earning.
Over to you.

Once I had the same feeling my parents used to treat me harsher than my other siblings since I was the youngest, later on as I grew older I realised that this bitter treatment made me who I am today, a strong independent teenager. And now I know that parents don't treat us in a harsh way for the sake of just being bad parents, instead it's because the care for us and they want us to get ready for this harsh world out there. So I say just stay strong and try to be worthy of this treatment it's just a phase that will pass faster than you’ll notice. Rahaf.

Lucy, when you do something right what do they do? Do they criticize you? Do they praise you? If it's the latter than I think you're just going thru what it's like as a teenager, because I'm 15 and I sometimes feel this way too. If they criticize you, I suggest at least trying to talk to your parents. Hope this helps. Sean, in USA. 

I understand your problem, I've had the same. Your parents love you, but they may be busy with a couple of kids and just tired from all the rushing. Talk to them,calmly tell them how you feel, it will help, I promise! Talking is a great solution and if that doesn't help, there's many places for family therapy. Hope I helped, Julia.

If they pick on you and its not your fault just calmly tell them you had nothing to do with it. Behave in a calm manner no matter how bad the situation gets, if they start telling you off wait till they finish then tell them wasn’t you and walk away. Lisa.

The best way to get over something that bothers you is to act on it. It may be hard but talk to them (in a calm and respectful way). Tell them how you feel about what they do/did and if you can't say it to them, write a letter about it and have them read it. Sometimes we feel like we're being picked on and belittled by the ones we love but you've got to listen to what they have to say as well to understand where they're coming from. I hope everything turns out well! Best of luck, Jabi.

I know exactly what you feel like.
I grew up with a younger sisters and a younger brother. When we were younger, no matter what went wrong, I was the one at fault, because I was the oldest and supposed to know better.
You wrote that it's often small and silly things causing the trouble. That was true for me, too. I tried to talk to my parents about it and it seemed they didn't listen. In hindsight, they did listen, they just didn't understand. Because many of the situations were so silly and small, they just forgot about them after a while. It sounds harsh to think that your parents would simply forget upsetting you so much, but my point is: they also forget they were even angry at you.
So you need to reassure yourself that it wasn’t your fault, at least not entirely. Maybe you should analyze the situations between your siblings you get blamed for. You might find a way to deescalate them before your parents get upset at all.
If you feel you’re losing control and might overreact, just leave the room and calm yourself. More often than not I found myself reacting to a chain of events that occurred over the past week or so and not to the situation at hand. That always seems like a huge overreaction to anyone else but you, as they don’t know – or don’t remember – all the things leading up to it.
I hope this helps! Verena, Germany.

Well just know that parents love you. Joshua.

You are not alone in your difficulties with your parents. If I had to venture a guess, I would say you are a younger sibling--not the oldest in the family. If I had to bet, I would say you are somewhere in the middle (not knowing exactly how many siblings you have). While classic cases of Middle Child Syndrome take place in families with three children, where the oldest is the most important and the youngest is the baby and wherein both of them seem to always get what they want, I imagine it can take place in families with more than three children among the children who fall anywhere in the middle, even if it's not smack dab in the middle.
My advice to you to get out of the rut you're in and change the family dynamics and the way you are treated by your parents would be for you to talk to your parents about your feelings. If you are afraid to actually talk to them, perhaps you could try writing them a letter. In addition, I would suggest you start taking steps to break your own patterns of behavior and start speaking out and speaking up when you are being treated unfairly or ignored. Stop being the child that just “takes it” and become more assertive and stand up for yourself and stop allowing the rest of your family members to treat you badly. You can do it! Sincerely, Ann.

Are the the oldest, youngest, middle child? It's of small consequence anyway. The answer to you're problem is complicated but let me explain the best I can. All children SHOULD be treated differently, as no two are the same. Perhaps you are the most mature out of your siblings, so you parents rest more weight on your shoulders, to keep the others in line. Could be your parents are horribly off balance and just choose you to dump their sh*t on. I'm the oldest of five and my nickname was and is to the day Momma #2. I took a lot a bull for things my lil bro and sisters did, but in the end I just took charge if I was gonna take crap. Stand tall, a few more years and you'll be grown and out of the house, then who can they blame ! Hope this helped!
LenaAngel.

Of course your parents are going to be like that, they're your parents. The best thing to do is just accept it and don't fight back. My mom just past away and the biggest regret I've ever had is fighting with her. So to answer your question, try talking to them if it really bothers you. Communication is key. Julia.

Well I'm dealing with this problem right now but with friends instead of family I've reached the point I walk to the door and tell them when they are ready to treat me as they treat themselves they may not enter my home nor will I enter theirs I've already done it to my family especially the users. Crystal.

Growing up is a lot crappier than we are led to believe - a big ball of hormones, gangly, insecure, confused etc. I'm a mother of two boys. I'll explain from my perspective. A lot of things have to do with how you approach your parents. In the course of a day, I hear a lot of complaints from my boys. When one of them approaches me whining, belligerent, or anything but calm a little part of me shuts off. It's hard being complained to all day, especially when you are trying so hard to make everyone happy. Some days it seems like I can't make anyone happy
Sit them down, tell them that you need to talk to them. Make it seem serious, this will capture their attention. Do this when your siblings aren't around. Tell them sometimes you feel overwhelmed and you are being over looked. This will break their hearts a tiny bit because as a parent we want all our kids to feel equally loved. They will listen if you approach them the right way. Your parents love you. I still fuss and fight with my mom to this day. You do have a voice, you are intelligent and love your family enough to write this question. If this doesn't help, maybe you can talk to a grandparent, aunt or uncle who will be able to help as well. I don't know everything, but I've got a lot of experience being a teenager and a parent. Good luck to you. Sherri.

I'm sorry you feel that way, it must be very hard for you. Have you expressed to your parents your feelings on these matters? Can you thinkof a reason they treat you differently-for instance you disappointed them somehow, violated a house rule/the law, anything ? Because they may be holding onto some resentments towards you. If you've done nothing that deserves this kind of reaction from them maybe they don't realize their doing it. They've treated you this way for so long it's habbit and maybe if you point it out you can help them stop. At the very least, you can make them aware of their behavior, how it hurts you and open a dialogue to help resolve the problem. Good luck, I wish you the best. Erica, USA

I am number 3 of 10 siblings. I feel your pain, really. I have a couple of ideas to why this happens. Parents often have a vision for their child(ren). When parents feel as though they need positive or negative encouragement, we as parents usually rapid fire as a reply. After a while it becomes repetitive. As time progresses parents do it out of habit. This is not right but at the same time parents lose sight of what is important to you and internally focus their short comings as your fault. Sometimes using your accomplishments keeps them at bay and sometimes not. My suggestion is to pick and choose your battles and filter what is important from the negative. After a while it does get better and keeping a little space does not put you in the line of fire. Good luck, Joey, Virginia, USA.

I completely agree with you! I am treated sometimes like and adult and sometimes like a child. I have a good relationship with my parents, but sometimes they really annoy me. For example, when I prove my mother wrong about something that she's been attacking me about, she always mentions some completely irrelevant little things, like she has a stash of critics that she pulls out whenever she doesn't know what else to say. But on the other hand, they have a lot of troubles, so I think the best part is to calm down and be the one with the peace offering. It has worked for me so many times. Because at the end of the day they love us and do so much for us... Even if we want for them to cut us some slack, we should do the same. Isidora, Montenegro.

I know situations like yours well. We can choose our friends, not our family. To be on good terms with each other is not necessarily inherited, each has to add something. It might be hard, but you will have to talk to them, most suitable all of them together. Maybe you can take someone neutral with you, not to involve to the conversation, only to listen.
Try to explain your feelings, but avoid the word ”always”, describe a precise situation which was not too long ago. Maybe all of you can promise little things to each other: not to forget to close the door, not to abuse about something … - whatever it is what causes trouble in your family. Set a time limit, see what happens and tell them if something feels better then.
When nothing works and before it kills you, only more distance can help. You say you do a lot, so maybe they will know what they had when it is gone, partially at least. They are your family and will be, so a total break would make things difficult, but before it comes down to this more distance could give a chance for some new beginning.  I hope you will find a way to get out of this. All the best. L.Q.

Thanks to all those who replied to this week’s question. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's, and send us your answer.