Toxic Favoritism

12 Aug

Letterbalm Depressed Young ManDear LetterBalm: Life hasn’t been going well for me lately. I was laid off from my job a year ago and had to move back home to save money. I’ve been looking hard, but the only work I’ve been able to get is daywork. I’m taking tech courses to try to break into a related career, and I’ve been working with their placement office, but right now I don’t have any real possibilities. To make matters worse, my younger brother is much more successful than I am. My dad compares me to him – he disapproves of me and criticizes me every day, and my mom dotes on my brother (who’s a great guy and sticks up for me). I need to get my parents off my back so I can keep on with my job hunt. What can I say?

–Down But Not Out

You’re dealing with a lot these days, most of it negative. It’s hard to dial out your parents’ favoritism for your brother. Ms. L.B. asks you one question: Is there any way you can move out without exchanging one bad situation for another? Perhaps you can afford to rent a room (not at a friend’s place) – less expensive, but it will give you privacy and a place of calm. Please see if there are free clinics in your city that offer therapy; you need help to work through your depression. If you must stay at home, understand there is little you or your brother can say to your father to change his way of thinking, and your mother won’t be any help. If it makes you feel better, write your parents a letter and give it to them when the three of you are together. Brace for pushback, especially from your father:

Dear Mom and Dad,

I must discuss something that is painful to me, but I want you both to understand that this letter is straight from the heart.

These have been hard times for me – losing my job, having to move back home – and the two of you have not helped my situation. I am trying hard to study for a new career and look for work in the meantime, but your continuous criticism is wearing me down and hurting me deeply. I know I must stand on my own two feet, and I’m striving for that.

Frankly, I’m your son and I need your emotional support. If I can’t count on my parents, who can I count on?

I will love you always.

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