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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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my family has always treated my sister like the princess and

Customer Question

my family has always treated my sister like the princess and me like the slave. I am now 27 and finally stood up to them and they all mom dad and sister yelled at me and told me to grow up. Need some help just wondering why???
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say that this problem you identify is a very heartwrenching problem for the family member that is "chosen" to be on the outs.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. There will be two parts to my answer, one about rudeness, the other to help you understand what might be going on.

Whatever their feelings might be, to call and yell at you is unacceptable behavior and you need to assert your boundaries and let them know in as calm and respectful and loving a tone as you can that you are not prepared to be yelled at or verbally abused and that you will now hang up the phone and they can call when they are prepared to talk to you in a loving way. That is a non-negotiable condition.

The interesting question is why. You want to know how it happened that you were cast into a "role" in the family and you can't break out of that role. There are a number of theories in psychology that address this, starting with AlXXXXX XXXXX's birth order theory of personality to family systems theory and Bowen's theory of family systems. You don't need to look all these up unless you're very interested. The common denominator is that you are cast into a specific role based on a number of factors including your personality and the family's "needs" which can be based on a lot of dysfunction. Here's an extreme example:

It has been studied with alcoholics and their families that when an alcoholic finally decides to change his life and stop drinking, his family will often sabotage the effort. Why?

Because they are so used to him being in a certain role that they unconsciously force him back into that role. It is built into their family dynamic and so for him to change, they would also need to change.

This is what you are encountering. You are changing and attempting to implement that change into the family dynamic. But the family hasn't signed up for a change so they are trying to force you back into the familiar and comfortable roles. So you will have to be patient with them and give them time but NOT revert back to the old role. If you are patient and loving and do it with good humor, you can often slowly get them to gradually feel okay with the new you.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX