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Nancy, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 746
Experience:  ABD for a PhD in Psychology, Psychotherapist for over 20 years
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Growing up, my brother was always favored.As an adult, I

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Growing up, my brother was always favored.As an adult, I became more independent & less of what my mom "approved" of. We have never had a close bond.My brother was, & still is, disrespectful, demanding, &self centered. He orders my mom around, calls her names, &she waits on him hand & foot. He is 26, married, with a baby living in her backyard. There aren't any boundaries. He comes home from work & demands food, & she'll cook for him. My mom denies any favoritism& tells me I am on the short end of the stick.My mom has distanced herself from me b/c she tries to hide the favoritism. She pays his bills, balances his checkbook, reads his mail, cooks for him, keeps the baby, takes his wife to & from work. He brings the baby to her to change the diaper. She dresses the baby in my old clothes & calls it her baby which is a concern to me. Is she "replacing" me with the new baby? Since the new baby, she rarely calls, doesn't invite me to family gathering, & tells half truths.What should I do?


Thanks for writing.

What you should do is entirely dependent on what you want.

I realize it's a an extremely difficult question, but what do you really want from them?

It certainly is very possible to learn how to accept their idiosyncracies, and just be a part of your family in a way that protects you (emotionally), and not expect them to be any different.

Many people who have families who aren't everything they want - limit their interactions with them - if, for nothing else, than just to protect themselves, but some people sit down with their families and completely open up and tell them how they feel. Many times, the family thinks that the person who feels alienated is the one alienating the family.

Which would feel more comfortable for you?


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I think I simply want my mother to love and accept me for who I am. Instead of always finding the fault in what I'm doing or simply telling me what to do. It's like she doesn't know how to have a relationship, and doesn't want to have a relationship with me, b/c she can't tell me what to do. She's very controlling.

It's very difficult to be around them b/c I see the contrast of how we are treated as adults. Growing up, I was told I was difficult, expensive, rude, etc. My mom counted down the days until I moved out and finally paid my own bills. She went as far as hand delivering them to my apartment- even when I didn't have a job and she knew this.

My brother is technically living an extension of his childhood in a remodeled shed in her backyard that my parents paid for and remodeled for them to live conditionally (no pets, no babies) for one year in to "save $ for a house." That was 3 years ago. First came the dog, then the baby. My mother didn't even acknowledge the rules that she laid out for them.
She won't call me for a month. If she doesn't know where they are at, she will call them, go into their shed (w/her own key), or drive around looking for them b/c "she worries."

This is such a contrast to her driving my bro's wife to/from work every day when she wouldn't let me borrow an extra car when my car broke down. My car was broken down for four months, and I had to take the bus. She has never admitted to me that she does this. She thinks she is hiding all of this from me.

We never discussed anything, especially feelings, growing up. I don't think she can see past herself (that she can actually do wrong) to see that she is hurting me.

My dad recently made the comment that I am "too grown up for my own good" and "too grown up for them." These comments are hurtful, but he would only make fun of me if I told him that.

I don't know if I can have a healthy relationship with them. It's very hurtful for me to be around them.

I really feel like my mom is beginning to behave like my grandmother who was hospitalized multiple times for Rx addictions, paranoia, schizophrenia, and other things.

Do you think my mom could have a problem that would certainly cause her strange behavior? Or, am I grasping at straws to excuse her behavior?

Nothing you describe really speaks to her having a mental illness such as depression, or bipolar disorder, but that doesn't mean she couldn't have a personality disorder, but without an evaluation, we can't be sure.

I think there is something to what your father said, though. Family members all take on roles, for numerous reasons - for some reason (which you may never really figure out - because it may not have an exact reason) you have been cast into the role of the rejected child - or the outsider. This family dynamic usually appears when the parent (your Mom) was put in an unwanted role as well. Hers could have been the same role, or a different one.

Many times, families have a child-hero, a non-existant child, a reject, a little-Mom or little-Dad - there are others, but you get the idea.

The bot***** *****ne is that you weren't and are not responsible for how they treat you. And, you have to do what's best for you... if that's limiting contact, then so be it. But do know, that this is not really about you - it's more about the way Mom has to view her children. I suspect she was either a Daddy's girl and acts out competition with you -- or was not loved enough by her Dad and has to recreate that with her son.


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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for your help. I do appreciate it. There are so many layers to this onion. I think b/c our feelings we never discussed our feelings I am just now trying to sort through things as an adult.

I really don't know what my role would be or my mom's. After her older sister moved out, she did pretty much fend for herself (b/c my grandma was really crazy).
This somewhat bothers me b/c I don't want to repeat this cycle. I don't want to be my mother and grandmother.

My mom and dad's relationship has been very chaotic. They married each other, divorced, married other people, divorced, then married each other again. Over the past 7 yrs, it has been really rocky. They separated, got back together, etc.

My brother's wedding was a distraction. Then, they moved into the shed. My dad had to remodel (and eventually add on a room) which occupied his time. Then, the baby came. I think my parents are using the baby to resolve their marital problems. I remember my mom saying that the happiest time in her marriage was when we were babies. She said my dad was the nicest then that he had ever been. After that, he became introverted, bitter, and had little to do with us.

Whenever my parents do ask me about things,which is only rarely, they only ask in a negative manner. Like- Do you still have a job? Other times they restate some statistic in the newspaper that might foreshadow my own calamity.

When you said something about her personality, I thought about how she appears, or acts, differently around different people. Her friends see her in one light, my family in another, and then she treats me totally differently.But, when we're around other people everything is peachy. It's similar to my grandmother. She would say really horrible things about my aunt (the oldest daughter) to family members with her (my gma) being the victim. My aunt would receive phone calls asking her why she was mistreating my grandmother. In reality, it was the other way around.
Could this be a learned behavior? My mother is continuing this cycle?

I feel like I don't know who she truly is. B/c she treats me differently, and keeps things from me, our relationship isn't "real." So, I get the feeling that she is just acting to make everyone think everything is ok (b/c appearances are everything). So, we have a "fake" relationship when others are around or when I am doing something that she approves of.
I want an actual relationship (healthy) with my family, so I put myself in a position where I know that it will eventually hurt my feelings. I know my mom probably thinks I am too sensitive and simply jealous. This is far from the case. To me, it's just really sad. I fel like I almost in an abusive relationship where I keep going back thinking things will be different or better.

I've struggled with this for the majority of my teenage/adult years. I think it's negatively impacting me. I've noticed that my own relationships have changed. I'm more reserved and cautious. I've become much more introverted. I think this has caused me to distrust others. Not to mention my self esteem has greatly suffered b/c I am a perfectionist. So, it's hard for me to not be able to "fix" the problem- b/c that's what I do.
Could this be affecting my relationship with others?

Ok, sorry for all of that. I'm just so overwhelmed, and it's nice to have someone to weigh in on all of this. Also, a tiny part of me actually believes her. That it's all in my head. It makes me think that I am the one with the problem. Do you think this? I know you can only see this through my lens, but do you think their behaviors are normal/healthy?

If I want a substantial relationship, should I try to seek this in other people? I have my husband, and that's about it. Like I mentioned earlier this has really impacted the way that I interact with others.
Or, will this be more detrimental b/c I'm not dealing with the root problem?

If I am asking too much, or including too much info, just tell me.


Yes, this is definitely a learned behavior on her part and it will naturally effect your relationships with others. It will effect your self-worth, self-esteem, the way in which you experience other people, get along with other people and relate to other people. You may go through times of deep depression or self-doubt.

No, I don't think this is in your head. I think she treats you differently and tries to make it seem like's it you. I think she's rejecting. And, the fact that you ever doubt any of it, makes that clear.

What I do want to suggest is that you find someone who is completely on your side to support you and help you through this. It's wonderful that you have your husband, but that's not enough - you need someone who knows how to help you get over the effects of this - a counselor. You deserve a chance to explore how she has hurt you, the effects now, and how to move past it.

Counseling can be a wonderful experience - find someone who you really like and trust. Don't look for weekly progress- but progress over time. Learn not to doubt what you think and feel - trust your own judgement. Don't buy into wondering if it's all in your head. That rarely exists (when it does it called delusional disorder and those people think people follow them, not your mother is mean).


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
You have been enormously helpful I appreciate your outsider pov. It certainly has provided clarity, confirmed my my own suspicions, and validated my feelings.

One last question. Is there a specific kind of counselor that you suggest? Do you know of any good books? I have seen a lot of books dealing with narcissistic mothers. I don't know if she really fits into this "label," but the book summaries reveal similar situations and circumstances. Would this be pertinent?


Find a PhD or PsyD Psychologist who works with family issues or a LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist). Generally, we post our areas of expertise in our phone book ads. LMFT's have specific training in this type of family dynamic - and will understand just where you're coming from.

Any book on narcissism is right on target!!! Browse any large bookstore or amazon - you are definitely on the right track!

And keep in touch.... email anytime!


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I can't thank you enough. You have been so helpful.

You wouldn't happen to do any "online counseling"? (If such a thing is even possible).

Thank you so much!

You are so welcome! I do conduct online therapy - but not through JustAnswer :-(


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Could you please email me the information? I don't want to hold up my "acceptance" of your help since you have been so helpful. I would certainly like to explore the option of online therapy. Please email me the details or direct me to a link, etc. My email is***@******.***. Thank you so much! I

I am so sorry, JustAnswer does not allow me to do that - and your email address is blocked so I can't see it.

I am so sorry!


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
oh, ok sorry about that. Well, thank you anyway. You've been incredibly helpful.