I am the eldest son in my family. I have two younger sisters, aged 7 and 12. My parents are very protective of them and can’t stand any wrong done against them. I enjoy playing or fooling with my sisters but my parents don’t like it. They assume that I will “harm” them. They don’t trust me with my sisters. I am older, chronologically and physically, and there’s a possibility of me harming them. My parents also think I’m not good enough in studies and compare me with them. No matter how hard I work, my parents assume that I don’t do anything good. The other day when I was playing with my siblings and one of them got injured and my parents threatened to “send me away”. When I confronted them and asked if they really meant what they said, they replied: “Yes, we want you to go”. They don’t love me. Why?
Looks like you feel quite confused by your parents’ behaviour. It makes you feel unloved. Before anything, do reflect on what you have shared; it will help you find your answers: What kind of ‘play’ or ‘fooling around’ do you do? You may ‘have no intention’ of harming them, but the reality is that ‘one of them accidentally got injured.’ What ‘trouble’ do your parents have to say: ‘we don’t need you around to cause….’? What makes them think you ‘don’t do anything good’?
Has any of the above happened before? If yes, it is natural that your parents are concerned about your sisters’ safety, and also about your behaviour. If you want to win back your parents’ trust, here are some changes you need to make in your behaviour:
1. Find different ways to show affection to your sisters. Perhaps you can show you care by playing board games or by helping them in some way. Be an encouraging and supportive older brother.
2. Make friends with other people of your age. Channel your energy into exercises and sports. Focus on your future, your career, your hobbies, etc. Take responsibility and offer to help at home.
3. Reach out to your parents. Share your feelings with them: “I feel very hurt when you ask me to go.” Ask: “What can I do differently that we can get on better?” Tell them you want to make them feel proud of you and ask them what would make them feel proud of you. If they won’t agree to a conversation, ask a trusted older person to help. Only when your parents see a change in you, they will begin to trust you; and when you change you will feel better about yourself.
Nasreen Hashambhoy is a Counsellor, Life Coach and a Facilitator of training programmes for schools and corporates. Through a combination of coaching, counselling and facilitation techniques based on cognitive science and positive psychology, she helps clients achieve their true potential. She is the author of the series Values In Action published by Better Yourself Books.