15 answers

Feeling Left Out of My Family

I have never felt like I fit in with my family. There is 10 years difference between my half sister and I and I have always been compared to her. My husband and I pretty much live paycheck to paycheck and my sister married a very successful man and has 3 kids (1 biological and 2 adopted) and our parents especially our mom babysits her kids constantly. She was always asking our mom to watch her kids for some reason or another. We hardly ask her to watch our kids. My husband had two kids from prior relationships and we have one together. My parents treat my two stepkids a lot differently then my sisters and even our youngest son. My sister and her family just moved away to a different state so I thought maybe it would change but it hasn't. She hardly comes to see us and she would always go and see my sister and her family at least once a day or she would call and talk to them. She hardly ever comes over and sees us or even calls. My mom would make comments to me about how she isn't going to babysit all time or that she just can't say no to my sister. My family (my sister and her family and our parents) would get together and do stuff and my family wouldn't be invited. I've tried talking to my mom about it but she just poo-poos it away. I just don't know what to do. It really is bothering me. I would appreciate any advise.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to eveybody who replied! The general censes is to just live our lives and just take my family with a grain of salt (more or less). It will take me time to do this since it has been going on ever since I can remember but hopefully I will figure it out.

More Answers

Apologies in advance for this answer being so long!

Life is hard. And it's rarely fair. It's that kind of planet. We are never loved as much as we think we should be, and the people we would like to be the closest to often don't respond to our love for them.

I hope that some day your family will draw close enough to you for you to be able to talk this over. It may happen and it may not. In the meantime, you might want to get some counseling for yourself one day, just to set your own feelings straight. Your initial statement, that you have never felt as if you fit in with your family, is a little disturbing. Whether your relatives ever change or not, you want to make peace with your feelings so that they don't accidentally spill over toward your own children.

Here's an additional thought: look at where you are now. Since you haven't said otherwise, I'm assuming you're married to a man who loves you and whom you love. You may have to live with "tight belts," but so do most people. You have children and I'm sure they love you and you love them. You have a pretty good life right where you are. It's too bad if your relatives don't appreciate you as much as they might, but that obviously doesn't mean you're not worth anything.

If I were you, I'd keep inviting my parents to be with me, but would not be hurt if they turned the invitations down. I'd just keep inviting and giving them a chance to say yes.

Meanwhile, take action. How can your strengthen yourself? You don't need your relatives' approval of you to live a good life. Focus on what you do have, and look for something GOOD in your husband and children (and yourself, too) every day without fail, so that your unhappy feelings can't take over and steal your joy in the people you love!

Actively look for things around you to smile at, even to laugh at. Make your home a happy, fun place for friends and neighbors to come to. Be involved in your children's schools, in your church, in your town. You might even meet an older couple who live too far away from their own grandchildren, and quietly (!) invite them to be substitute grandparents, so your children will not lose out on intergenerational affection.

You may never be as wealthy as your sister, but love and character are also kinds of wealth, so never believe you're poor.

What you'll end up with is a happy life with a good marriage and happy children, friends, and many ways to contribute to others around you. And it's so sad that your relatives may miss out on being part of that!

And if you REALLY want to think about it this way, you COULD call it, "Living Well is the Best Revenge."

7 moms found this helpful

I think you just have to accept what it is and find a way to move on... that is what I have done!

My sister and I are 8 years apart. I am the oldest.
My sister was the trouble maker child. Ran away at 15, prego by 17 and had baby #2 by 19. She was married, but that didn't last. She is moving from boyfriend to boyfriend and taking her kids along for that ride.
She has grown up lots over the years and is trying to be a better adult, but lets face it she will always be that little kid that has to learn things the hard way.
I on the other hand was the great child. Never was in trouble, went to college, lived overseas for a bit doing charity work, didn't date much (meaning mess around), found a wonderful man, has a career, got married, had two kids, ect... you get my point.

To this day my mom is all about my sister and her kids! My parents live TEN minutes from me and we see my mom maybe 2 times a month. We see my dad more because he works for us.
My mom sees my nephews all the time, she has lunch with my sister and is always doing things for her and she lives a good distance from her.

My kids are very young, both under the age of 3 and to be honest when they see my mom they cry because she is a stranger. She was not very into my pregnancies- nearly didn't ackowledge the first one at all and kinda came around for the second. With both kids those first weeks home with a newborn are trying, but she never ONCE stopped by. I realize I didn't ask, but I just assumed my mom would be there for me.
This has bothered my husband for years, but I just tell him it is what it is. Yes it hurts me at times, but there isn't anything I can truly do. Telling her how I feel has never worked. She just ends up turning it around and somehow it becomes all about her and how hurt she is by my words. Ugh..

I learned long ago to just let it go... I had to for me! She is the one missing out and I can't make her want to be there.
I truly don't think she loves me less, I just think she sees me as the one that has it together and my sister will just always need her! She lives for that.
I don't need my mom enough, in her eyes, so why should she be there for me. I also think she might be a bit jealous of my life...

I guess I don't have any secific advice other than to help you realize you can't change what is. This is your mom, like it or not, and you have to live with it. If you let it eat you up, that will do no good.
I guess just know you aren't alone in having a mom that clearly has a better connection to a sibling. It sucks, but the best we can do is make sure we don't do that for our kids. That while we can't make things equal all the time, we can at least treat them with the same love and respect.

Good luck and chin up!

4 moms found this helpful

Oh boy, that kind of made me want to cry. I have a rather unusual mom myself and she never babysat and doesn't spend much time with us and truthfully my children grew up pretty much without her being present. She attended birthday parties, an occasional sport or play or chorus, but that's it. She however, spends all sorts of time with my sister who doesn't have kids.
Well, truth is I think I sent someone else a note about it, it really hurts, but we have to kind of fill the void so we find substitutes. I have spent a lifetime since I was little girl doing that. I talk to my mom, but (and I am probably much older than You) but here goes, I am sure she doesn't care for me as much as my other brothers and sisters. And she is seventy eight and I am fifty three. I was you years back in so many ways. It really, really hurt and so once I started to kind of substitute other people I was able to go on. I know she loves me but cannot be the mom I love and I am sure it is the same for you. Reach out to others, in your church or community. Maybe she will come round. Maybe not. Of course it is bothering you and that will always be. She is your mom, but she simply cannot give you all of her love. Who knows why...but always remember this and value yourself. You yourself are a wonderful stepmom, and mom and your children will remember that.
hugs, S.

4 moms found this helpful

Sometimes our families are a disappointment and we can't change that. Like mentioned before, surround yourself with good, caring people. How about your in-laws? Otherwise, please be happy with your husband and children....we can't spend our entire lives trying to get Mom's approval.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

J.,

I understand your pain. It hurts to be left out of the family or family functions. The way I have dealt with it is to accept them as they are and try not to change them. I go where I am celebrated. I have found my church family to be very welcoming and loving. I also have joined mother's groups and get together for playdates etc. with a great group of ladies. As far as your family goes, offer to get together only as much as you want to. Focus on your family and your happiness. Whatever is joyous and happy for you to be doing with your hubby and kids, do it. Don't worry about them. They are the ones losing out on the relationship. Try to let it go and move on. Once you do that, you will be free~Take good care and I hope this helps. You are not alone.

M.

3 moms found this helpful

My mom and dad favored my little brother (2.5 years younger) when we were small and until I went to college. I was the tortise and he was the hare. I'd study to get C's and my brother could sleep through class and get A's. I still remember my dad forcing me to look at my little brother's report cards and asking me why I could be as good in school.

Some one suggested you ask your dad why. Your dad may or may not know or tell. But its a good start. Invite your parents over on a regular basis. Play cards or games with the kids with your parents. Play games with your parents. Serve the dinners she likes. Tell her you love her. Give her and your dad hugs. You may win her over. Even water will wear away rock. (Think Grand Canyon.)

AND never treat your kids like that. No favorites.

Good luck to you and yours.
What happened BTW? I started to be looked upon more favoribly when my brother was having trouble with his second wife and had spent some hard time behind bars. I'd make it a point to see my parents and my wife's parents on our vacations and they loved seeing the grandkids and almost always commented on how nice and respectful and well mannered they were. My parents noticed how well I treated my wife and how well I treated them. It took many years, but I never gave up and they came around.

3 moms found this helpful

You just have to move on and accept it for what it is. You can try to discuss it, but that may make you feel worse, just realize that.

My MIL does the same thing. She has two kids and she disregards us. She has to get past our house to get to the other sons house on the way back from her trips that she goes on twice a year and she just keeps on driving. My husband didn't believe it, but the more she opens her mouth, the more he realizes. I feel horrible and wish there were something I could do to fix it, but I can't.

2 moms found this helpful

your not alone in this...after my divorce i never got any help from any family members-or even before my divorce-wanted my mom to be with me when i had my 1st baby..she said"youll be alright-i dont need to be there" but she was for all my other sisters,plus she babysat for them etc.i have 5 other sisters-1 who couldnt have kids.well not only did it cause alot of resentment amongst me an my sisters..she never got close to my kids-got to the point we only saw her at xmas time.when she got hit with cancer-my kids had no really empathy or care-when she died-my kids had no emotions about it-simply because she never took the time to be part of their lives.so she lost out on 2 great kids-we didnt fit in-paychex to paychex etc.my 8 other siblings are very well off.well now we have nothing to do with my family-my kids are grown an cant stand them.my daughter is getting married next spring-no one in my family is invited.
my point is-you cant choose your family members-but you can choose to keep moving forwards-dont dwell on something you cant change.yea i know it hurts-but put that into more positive in your kids lives,quit trying to talk to your mom about it-she knows what shes doing.leave her alone-put her to the curb for awhile.focus on your family-she doesnt want to be part of-her loss.good luck...and use this in the future when your kids have kids-no favortism.

2 moms found this helpful

Have you spoken with your father? Ask him why he thinks there is a such a difference in the way your mom treats your sister vs. you..

What you have described sounds EXACTLY like my MIL.. She Has always bent over backwards to her daughters family.. They also have tons of money we get by comfortably we just purchased our first brand new car in almost 30 years, but they own their own plane and have a pilot.

I have always felt that in that family, money was power.. the more you have the more power you have.. MIL says it is not true, but if she ever asked me for advice and I gave it, she would poo, poo it and ask daughter.. Usually the advice from SIL was not great advice and ended up in a big mess, but MIL continued to always follow daughters advice.. MIL also loved that her daughter could write a check.. Like that solves everything. Maybe it makes them feel like they are successful parents because their kids did so well financially.. Who knows, but it is their loss.. They have missed out on knowing our amazing daughter and experiencing her accomplishments which have been numerous..

I hope you figure it out. I know it hurts. My husband and his mom went to counseling and admitted she does favor her daughter. It let my husband know the truth, but it broke my heart.

2 moms found this helpful

I totally hear where you're coming from. I met my husband and we moved to another state, where he'd gotten a job, and got married and had a child. Needless to say, my brother and my sister live practically in my parent's backyard, they live so close. We have extended invitations to my brother's and sister's families to come visit, but their standard response is "you moved away, we didn't; you come visit US." Well, we don't get home much. Usually once a year, at Christmas, unless there's a wedding, funeral, or something else special going on. My parents do come visit, but again, it's once, twice a year, usually no more. We do sometimes drive and meet them halfway and eat and visit, which might be another once or twice a year. Because of the distance, meeting them helps cut down on time and gas money.

So we don't see my side much.

My daughter is also special: she has Sensory Processing Disorder, anxiety, and OCD. My parents, I've discovered, are unprepared (or don't want to) to deal with her and so decline having her stay with them for a week in the summer. (It's totally the opposite with my mother-in-law, who loves having my daughter stay with her for a week in the summer. However, she is also aware of my daughter's issues and limitations and is able and willing to deal with them/her.)

How do I deal with it? By acknowledging the fact that, if I were to "pick" my friends, I wouldn't pick my brother and sister. However, they are my family, so I have them through better or worse. That means, I get along with them, but I don't fight them or make them conform to what I want them to be. Same with my parents. I love my parents. However, my sister (the baby of the family) used my parents extensively for babysitting when her daughter was young. As a result, both my sister and my neice feel that they "own" my parents. Okay. That's for them to work through.

What I'm trying to say is, I have come to accept that that is how my family is and that I'm not going to change them. Everyone in my family came for my daughter's baptism. If I can get them to come for her confirmation, her high school graduation, maybe a college graduation party, and her wedding, then I will feel as if I won the lottery. My parents like to go places and do things and visit/travel; my sister and my brother don't, so consequently, their families don't do much.

My husband, daughter, and I have made our own life, one we're happy with. Would it be nice to have more contact with my family and do more with them, have them come over and stay for the weekend? Of course it would. But I gave up pounding my head against a useless board a long time ago, because they aren't going to come. My parents, now getting on into old age, come as much as they can, but they have their own lives to live as well. (we're talking a 6.5 hr drive to my parents and a 5.5 hr drive to my in-laws, so we're really without any familial support where we live.)

Last summer, my sister and her family went to Chicago and stayed the weekend with my cousin, who hauled them around the city and showed them the sites/sights. On their way home, they stopped at The Shoe Box in Cross Plains, WI, just a hop, skip, and a jump down the road from us. Did they call us up and tell us they wanted to stop and see us for a few minutes on their way through Madison, maybe grab a quick bite to eat? No. How did we find out about it? My brother-in-law forgot he wasn't supposed to say anything and spilled the beans at Christmas last year. It made me feel wounded but really, what am I supposed to do about grown ups? That's how they want to live. So be it. I thought about not going out to her house anymore when I'm there visiting my parents, but then I'm just stooping down to her level, and I'm not like her.

You have to make peace inside yourself that that is who they are and don't let it eat you up. It's not worth it. Trust me.

1 mom found this helpful

Same thing is my situation. There are 7 of us but we all have our levels. My mom always made it clear that babysitting for a couple of us wasn't going to happen. Funny thing is we live pay check to pay check. We can't really afford to do a night on the town and somewhere between 20 and 40 dollars on a babysitter. It just isn't going to happen. But my sister who is the next to me, older, has two children again doesn't live pay check to pay check I swear has those children every night. My brother my mother always made VERY clear she wasn't watching their children. It actually caused another tip in the scale and he is completely alienated from her.

She does these things then when you go over there she complains how no one comes around. Well why would we if you make it clear we aren't as important as others.

For example I was going to school full time and being a full time mom, my husband was working a full time job, taking care of me and the kids, and going to full time school. Oh and we were both on the Dean's list. Well one day I went over there and my mother was talking about how proud she was of one of my sisters for going to school and doing so good! Not a word to me. By the way my sister does have a husband, and worked a part time job.

Also, half the time if you go over there to visit she says. Mind you that I've already told her I'm coming and about then. You get in there and she says oh so and so of my sisters is on their way and we are going to have a bite or something of the sort and leaves. You are like WHAA? She makes it very clear that some of us are second hand citizens.

You know it hurt for a long time. A very long time. I felt like I did something wrong to make this happen. Eventually after years of this. About 12 now. I've realized it isn't going to change. We all have our rungs on the latter and nothing is going to change that. She likes others plain and simple more than she likes other. You can talk till you are blue in the face if your's is like mine and she won't get it, or doesn't. Really you pry need to just lick your wounds and move on. You can go see her if you want but I just barely bother anymore. Sometimes I don't go over for months and she says nothing. Eventually she will call and say you haven't been over in awhile you and the comes should come visit. So we will but then again the same thing will happen next time.

But I'm sorry. I know how bad this hurts. I love how parents say they don't have their favorites, well in my family that is bull and I know it.

1 mom found this helpful

You have to decide what you want to do.
Do you want to be included or not.
If you do...take the steps to start asking your mom for information (not advice) and to be with your children.
Invite her to do things with you and your children, and times to watch your children
Have family gatherings at your home in which you are the lead and your family is the center of attention.

If this doesn't work after a few months.
Re-think.
You can always keep busy wiwth friends and other relatives.
Make sure you aren not looking at this whole situation with green eyes.
I have baby sister, 18 years younger that me. She is very well off. I find it more fun to brag about her and be proud of what she has accomplished for herself.

I remember that I have the husband and lifestyle that I have wanted.
If we do not have the big luxury house, we do have a home that we can live in comfortably and safe. We can entertain and enjoy those around us.

Be thankfur for what you ahve and not so intimidated by what she has.
You are two different people.
You have to live two different lives.

Accept who you are and what you have. If you dont like it,,,how can you improve it or fix it.
You are in control of your life, not your sisters.

My parents treat us all very differently, and about 10 years ago (around 20) I became okay with that. I'm living my life, and they're living their lives, and we're all just figuring it out.

Maybe because I left home at 17 and was completely on my own, and so when I forged a new relationship with my parents it was on my own terms, and as adults.

I don't expect ANYTHING from them. Period. So anything I get is bonus. I enjoy my parents, they're great people... but it's there money and their time to choose to spend as they wish. So is my own. They raised me, and now we're all adults.

Maybe, too, it's because I've seen my sister and my husband's family in action.

My sister (pushing 30) still thinks of herself as a child. As if our parents "owe" her to take care of her. My mum still buys her clothes, my dad pays her insurance. She *expects* childcare, while myself and others ask if my mom is free, she says "I need you to watch," or "I want you to watch Susie more". That just seems WEIRD to me. Ditto, my sister expects to be invited/included in everything they do, as if she were a kid. I don't get that. My parents can't meet with ANY of their children without my sister getting bent out of shape that she wasn't "invited". I REALLY don't understand why. I mean, we are ALL adults at this point, with schedules, and free time... and we choose to spend that time in different ways. If I want to have my parents over for a meal, do I have to invite ALL my sibs? I think not. Ditto if I want to meet one brother for coffee, or take my other sister up snowboarding, or meet for wine with another... she gets REALLY upset if she isn't invited. I don't get that. I mean, sure, if it's "everyone" and I don't invite her (never happened), I could see getting in a snit... but just because I happen to be seeing a family member socially doesn't mean I'm going to invite the whole family.

My husband's family is something of the opposite of my own. In my H's family, the children are *expected* to take care of the adults. Including sending money/ paying bills/ etc. Whoever has the "most" is expected to take care of everyone else. I'm not joking. It was us for awhile (gramma needs groceries, dad needs his car fixed, my kids need ballet lessons), and now it's my BIL/SIL. No joke whoever is "perceived" to have "more" gets over 50k worth of requests every single year from the 2 generations previous. And I'm talking when we were making 40k per year we were getting 50k worth of requests. My H, BIL, SIL, and I have opted out of the craziness. The idea that "I spent money raising you, and now you owe me" just doesn't fly. Not when we all have kids of our own we're trying to support, and all 4 of us are still in school ourselves. The 4 of us are great disappointments to the preceeding generations on my H's mom's side. (His parents are divorced, his dad's side is more "normal".)

So yeah. About 10 years ago, my family became "people" to me. People I can enjoy, but not people I expect anything from. It's worked out, because anything I DO get from them is a wonderful and greatly appreciated bonus.

Anyhow, just my experience.

I've known so many people who didn't fit into their families well, or who felt judged or left out in one way or another. I'll bet it's about as common as "happy, well-adjusted" families.

Two things jump out at me in your request, J.. One is that you are comparing yourself and your family to your sister and how your parents treat her. Whether your parents do that or not is their business, but you don't have to buy into it if you choose to just live as fully and happily as you can.

If you contemplate this for a bit you'll probably discover it's true: Some of the greatest thinker and philosophers in human history tell us that our circumstances don't make us unhappy, but how we think about our circumstances can make us miserable. So, learn to influence what is within your reach, and let the rest go. You WILL be happier when you manage that. And you'll feel more grownup and powerful.

The other thing is that you say your sister asks for the favors from your parents, and you don't. Wouldn't that be at least a contributing factor in how involved your parents are with your kids?

I can't really tell from your request whether you are sitting and waiting for things to change. If so, are you willing to let your parents know you'd love to have them in your children's lives? If they don't want to babysit, fine! Why would a considerate daughter "assume" her parents want to take on that exhausting responsibility (and perhaps your sister overused that privilege). So, how about inviting them to family events you initiate? I love being included in my daughter's and grandson's life, and she creates at least half of the opportunities to be together. If she didn't, I might assume she'd rather be doing other things than hanging around with me.

Well, I haven't read the answers you have recieved but I might be able to give you an understanding on the grandma's side of things a little and hope it helps.

Most grandma's love all their grandchildren very very much. It isn't like when you have your own child who you are with each and every day, getting to know them and having to do the correcting and teaching. A grandma spends time with children, knowing that they can guide them and show them love like no other... but to do so they have to spend time with the children and get to know them. Your sister had grandma and grandpa babysit all the time and in that they got to know your sister's children very well. They felt a big part of their lives and in return your sister's children got to know them very well also. You don't need to always have your parents babysit to get to know your children. Make a point of taking them to see them a lot, not just waiting for them to come here. I know I don't go to see my kids at their homes often because they run busy lives and I don't want to intrude all the time. I do spend a lot of time with grandkids coming and spending the night, one more often then the other two, so that makes me especially close to the one. The more effort you make to let your parents get to know your children, the closer they will be and invite your parents on outings with you also. My sister lives a few hours away and my parents seem to do more with her then they do with me but then they get invited to do more with my sister since we don't do a lot. It isn't something to be envious about, maybe something for me to change or to understand.

Your parents not feeling the same about your step children as their own grandchildren is understandable. There is a bonding time in infancy that is so important and they had it with your youngest and your sisters children, unless the adopted ones were older when adopted, that they missed with your step children. That doesn't mean they should leave them out but they probably don't feel as much like a grandchild as a son in laws children. Give them time to get to know them and accept that they probably will never have the closeness to them that they have with the others, I bet you feel closer to your own child then the step children, although you love them all three and you are around them more.

About feeling the odd one out all the time, I think we all feel that in family relationships because the feelings we have are so close to the skin. I know I at times think I am the odd one out and recently talked with my sister about our childhood and found she also thought she was the odd one out..lol. It is natural and normal. Remember though, like any relationship, we get out of it what we put in it. When your mom poo poos it means that she may not be hearing what you are trying to say or it could mean that she sees it as she loves all the children and doesn't think you should worry about that. Try taking mom out shopping for a day, just the two of you, and at lunch tell her how wonderful it is to spend the time together and how you would love to spend more family time with her. I bet she would fall over her own feet trying to make it happen.

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