Dear Barb—Brother Bother

Dear Barb:

I am writing about my problems with my brother.  He is one year younger than me and we do not get along.  We break out in an argument at the slightest provocation.  We are in our twenties now, but when we were younger he was always spoiled and got to do whatever wanted.  When I asked my parents why he got to do what he wanted and their answer was always that he is younger and that he is a boy.  Why should that make a difference?

I have so much resentment towards him, that I can’t even stand to be in the same room with him.  I feel bad, but I can’t seem to help myself.  He triggers all my buttons.  Do you have any idea when, or if, I will stop feeling this way towards my only brother?

Help! Brianna

Hi Brianna:

You didn’t say whether you are both still living at home.  I’m going to assume you are.  It sounds to me like you have the “oldest child syndrome.” The oldest child syndrome includes being a perfectionist, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Perfectionism can lead you to strive for better, and often leads to success in life.  Being the oldest child, you will likely get harsher treatments, as you said in your email, your brother gets to do what he wants.  Part of being the oldest child is the fact that you have to share time with your younger siblings.  Although in your case, you would not have a recollection of being the only child, so perhaps this wouldn’t be as strong, but may still lead to resentment on your part.  Becoming aware of your feelings is part of the battle.

Now is the time to focus on letting go of these feelings towards your brother.  He isn’t responsible for how your parents raised him and most likely they didn’t realize they were causing problems between you and your brother.  You must stop reacting to your brother as you did when you were children.  It’s time for you and your brother to call a truce and become adults about the situation.  He’s your only brother and as you get older your relationship with him will become increasingly important.  Most likely you will be moving out on your own soon, and it’s important that you maintain a relationship.  If or when you have children, you will want them to be close to their cousins, and if you and your brother are still filled with feelings of resentment, your children will sense it and you won’t see a lot of each other.  Therefore, all I can say is it’s time to let go and reconnect with your brother.  Hope this information was helpful.  Best of luck Brianna.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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