Single Life


Being on your own can create a rift between you and your family; take steps to heal these hurts.

My older brother and I live in the same town. He is married and has three kids. I am single. How do I overcome living in his shadow?

I think the deciding factor here is whether or not this is a present, practical issue, or a long-standing issue between you and your parents. I do not think it is out of the question for singles to be somewhat expected to adapt more to those with families. It is easier for one to adapt to many than for many to adapt to one. It’s just reality. But if they are not paying any attention to you and to your efforts to relate to them, you have an issue in your relationship with them.

Remember, it is not between you and your brother, it is between you and your parents. If you want more time with them, you need to resolve that with them. Why was it you talked to your brother and not to them? Is there a pattern of you not having direct conversation or solving problems with them? Is that part of the problem?

If it is a long-standing problem of feeling like the neglected child and you feel your brother has been favored, then you need to address this with them as well. Often these “practical” issues that should be solved rather quickly are not because they symbolize issues that have been going on in a family for years. Make sure you are not trying to resolve a long-standing neglect, comparison or competition issue by thinking visiting different venues will make the problem go away.

Share your feeling with your parents and see what it is about. If that does not work, go talk to your pastor or a good counselor so you can figure out what you are going to do with a situation where people will not resolve hurt. I am disappointed, for example, in your brother’s reaction. If that is indicative of how the family deals with a member who is hurting, then the whole family needs some help. “When one member suffers…the whole family suffers,” is a principle that loving families know. If it is a pattern, then try to resolve that with them.

Remember, until we talk to those involved about the problem, we cannot know what to do because we don’t know what they are going to do about their part. Give them a real chance to hear you and see what happens. You won’t know until then. If there is enough love and communication and understanding of everyone’s perspective, then practical problems can be solved.

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