Why is the favorite sibling the one that never helps the parents?


I know this sounds childish, but my older sister Stacey has always been my parent's favorite. I never doubted my parents love for me, but my whole life they were happier and cheerier when Stacey was around. Since mom's AD illness last year, she mostly does disappearing acts when things get tough. She rarely visits our parents even though she doesn't have a job and lives an hour away, gets irritated with the slightest suggestion that she might have to help with something, and bad mouths them. Our mom was in the hospital on Christmas day and her 25 year old son said "I hope we don't have to just mope all day because grandma and grandpa aren't here." (He never visited them.) My parents asked her to have POA a few years ago, but she said no because I'd end up mad at her for something so my parents chose an attorney instead. My sister just didn't want the responsibility and used me as an excuse - making me look bad. She makes fun of our dad's nervous ticks (he's the primary caregiver to mom - of course he's stressed out.) She's openly said "mom is so f****d up" when actually she is exhibiting symptoms of dementia that she's not taken any time to educate herself on. Her lack of compassion is breaking my heart and she apparently models this behavior for her kids too. I rarely speak to her because I find her attitude so unsettling. Still, my parents adore her. I called my dad after I researched a new doctor they wanted to see and my mom was on a different phone with my sister. I heard my mom tell him to "Just hang up with me and talk to Stacey". Has anyone else experienced this? Sometimes I feel like I want to disengage altogether and let them stew in the bed they've made. Is it a case of being like the old dependable shoe that everyone can count on, but nobody really notices? Thanks for letting me vent.

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Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! I understand this post through and through. I truly do.
Helpful Answer (0)

From one dependable shoe to another--yeah, this stinks.

I am NOT the favorite kid. Not even in the top 6 and there are 6 of us. Well, 5 still living, the "golden boy" died 5 years ago. Mother is still in deep mourning.

Yet....I am ALWAYS there. And what does she say to me every SINGLE time I show up? "Oh, it's you." In the saddest, most dispirited voice. Then she goes on to ask me about all my sibs, and honestly? I have NO IDEA what they're up to. Not visiting mother, that's for sure.

I was stepping and fetching and really thought I was helping her. She lives with my brother and he rules her with an iron fist (very weird relationship). A couple weeks ago I called a family meeting to discuss getting the 3 MIA sibs to please step up and help, and also to see if we needed to get her in home aides. The meeting was a total disaster with brother screaming at me for trying to "horn in on mother's life" and him telling me I was not wanted nor allowed to even come to see mother w/o pre-arranging it with him. No thanks for endless hours of care and work and errands--just "you're not the one she wants, quit coming over you just upset her".

So, the 3 MIA sibs have each said they'd see her one day a week for 2 hours. I am out in the cold, which actually, is fine. I know they won't follow through, and that's fine.

I'm 61 and have been trying my whole life to make my mother "like" me. I finally realized, I really don't care.

If mother and dad don't live with you--just walk away--for as long as you want. You cannot change the dynamic of being "not the favorite" and so quit trying to make it be so. I know that sounds harsh, but words from my therapist---just--quit trying.

Come to vent any time. It's hurtful to feel this way, and have no one who "gets it". My hubby is sweet, but could not care less about family drama. He wishes I would walk away and never look back.
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I am resentful that I am expected to do what my brothers are "too busy" to do. And they don't say this, my mother does! (She wouldn't even allow one of my brothers to research life alert devices on the Internet, because his time was more valuable than mine!) Well, if they are "too busy," then I am, too.

If one of them was getting money from my mother (or had in the past), I wouldn't tolerate that. I would demand money to do things for my mother or I would just walk away from any part in her care at all. (As it is now, I'm the Dummy Daughter Driver, and am being very careful to not agree to every little request she still tries to make that doesn't regard driving. I also have set firm limits on when/where I will drive her.)

As it is, if I am ever expected to do personal attendant types of tasks for her, I'm going to be charging her $20/hour. I did it one time (for over a week) for free, and after the way I was treated, I will not do it again unless I'm paid.
Helpful Answer (2)

I saw this with my cousins, the one who did all the work, got criticized and the one
who was a blatant user got all of her Mama's love. I think it has to do with who the
parent feels they can count on being forgotten about, while they keep pining after their
prodigal son or daughter(s). Guess the phenomena has been around forever. Really
really sucks though.
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I think it's like the dads who get their kids on the weekend. You know, the mom is the one who is in the trenches, getting them to do homework, clean up rooms and the discipline gets meted out. Then dad comes breezing in, and takes them to the ice cream shop, movies, buys them stuff. He gets to do the fun stuff with them, so of course they look forward to his visit. Personally I think it stinks! Siblings get to have fun and then come around and make a big fuss. (I just get to be worn out.)
Helpful Answer (3)

This is my thought. The adult child who isn't there is the one they can pretend everything is alright with, and, for a short while, forget their own situation.
Helpful Answer (1)

Dear GingerMay,

I really empathize and sympathize with you. I feel we could be twins. I too felt like a dependable shoe while my siblings were off living their lives and I was left holding the bag. Sadly like the others have said it is very common in a lot of families, granted this doesn't make it right.

I do have a lot of anger and resentment about this but since my dad's passing I've tried to let it go. I wish I had taken a different perspective instead of feeling so trapped and under appreciated by my family.

I was the oldest and in my culture I think that made a big difference. You are just expected to be the responsible one, the good one, the obedient one. And I also had a terrible disease to please personality. So desperate for praise.

My youngest sibling was the favorite. There was never any criticism there. It hurt me a lot. I can't get blood from a stone. My siblings were living and doing their own things and just didn't have any compassion for me. I wish I had talked to counsellor or joined a support group or even had this forum to vent to.

I hope you will try and think about yourself and what you want for you. And yes, let the chips fall where they may.
Helpful Answer (5)

In my family my dad shows preference to the son who is most like him in personality. He’s most definitely not the one who does anything to take care of dad, he actually uses and takes advantage of dad. But our dad has a million excuses for him, always has, always will. It took me a long time to admit that they share many personality traits as my dad is a kinder and better person than my brother, but nevertheless they are a lot alike and he is highly favored. Strange how all this works...
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This reminds me of how a child will prefer the parent who does not make them do chores etc. Your sister is not in the trenches and she is not telling them what they can and cannot do. Where as you are the strict parent as it were. You are the one who makes sure the necessary but unglamorous details are attended to.

In my life I was the strict parent, the one who managed bed time, getting them off to school, homework etc. My ex rarely participated in day to day parenting, he was the fun parent. Even now, we are divorced the kids grown. I am the one parent who they call in a panic, my ex is the one who buys expensive gifts, but is not there when the going gets tough.

With my parents my brother is the golden child. My dad lives part time with him and they get along so well, because my brother has never challenged dad in any way. I handle paperwork from a distance as I am good at that.
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I’ve noticed this in families I’ve known and it is strange. Even if a parent feels a particularly special love for one child over the other, you’d think they’d try to conceal it. I am an only and have one child myself so missed the sibling things.

But my parents, even though I’m an only child, would still talk about members of my peer group that we knew (cousins or friends) and I’d measure up lacking compared to the other kids. So where there is a will there is a way. 😖

My parents asked my uncle to be POA and he said no. They asked my daughter! And she said no! They’ve never shared any details about their wishes for their old age. But they expect me to ‘handle’ things. I wonder how am I supposed to do that? I have no authority. They’ve not given me any.

I sincerely don’t want the POA. I’m not needing the stress.
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