Annie Fox for Teens... Hey, Terra!

Annie (AKA Hey Terra!) has been around long enough to have experienced a lot of what Life can dish out. But, it hasn’t been so long that she's forgotten what it's like to be your age. Check out some of the thousands of email questions teens from around the world have sent to Terra. You may learn something useful from her answers:

Parents:
“My mom likes my sister better than me.”

Hey Terra,

It seems my mom likes my sister better than me. My older sister tells me to get out of her room, and my mom yells for me to, "Get out of her room!" Whenever I tell my mom something about what my sister did to me, she never does anything about it. She doesn't even yell at my sister. All she does is says, "Just stay out of her room." I can't even tell her that I hate myself, because she just yelled at me, and told me she's sick of me saying this. She says she'd wish that she can just go back to her home country instead of dealing with me. She talks softly to my sister whenever she has a problem.

My sister says that I hung up the phone on her friend. I said that I didn't even do anything, and sometimes my mom doesn't believe me.

Is there anything I can do about this? I can't talk to my mom because she'll start saying I cause all the fights, which I do a lot, and that I should wait till my sister is done with the computer, or stay away from her.

Please help me with this problem!

Unloved Kid

Dear Unloved Kid,

From what you describe, I can certainly understand why you feel that your mom likes your sister better than you. Whether it is true or not, your feelings are valid. I wonder if you have ever talked to your mom about those feelings. Sometimes a parent (or a child) gets into a pattern of behaving a certain way toward someone in the family, and because he/she has done it for so long, it becomes almost "automatic." What I mean is, your mom may not even be aware of the fact that she treats you in a certain way and treats your sister in a very different way.

There are many reasons why your mom may have set up these ways of relating to you and your sister, but the first step you can take to making a change is by talking to her. My suggestion would be that you talk to her (calmly and respectfully) and let her know specifically what you feel when she 1) yells at you, 2) doesn't listen when you have a problem, and 3) doesn't believe you when you tell her the truth.

Please make sure that what you say is focused on how you FEEL. That is, "Mom, I feel sad when you tell me that you wish you could go back to the home country instead of dealing with me." or "Mom, I feel angry when you yell at me for every little thing." If you THINK about what you're saying and stick to how you FEEL instead of saying things like "Mom, you NEVER..." or "Mom, you ALWAYS..." you increase the chance that your mom will HEAR what you have to say. (When people hear "You Always..." or "You never..." they naturally feel attacked and stop listening.)

So, keep it calm, and focus on your feelings and see if you can begin a conversation about what's going on.

There are no guarantees that any of this will change your mom's behavior. Only she can choose to make that kind of change... however, if you tell her how you feel, you may learn something about how she feels and in that way, make a first step toward understanding each other better. If that doesn't change anything, I would suggest that you talk to your school counselor so that you can learn better ways to cope with your family situation.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Terra


Need some advice? Write to Terra. She'll give you a straight answer you can trust without any lectures.


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