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I am an 18 year old girl with an 11 year old brother. This 7 year age gap has always affected my relationship with my brother and has meant we are not that close. When we were younger, we used to get on really well. However, in the last few years my brother has taken on some very nasty characteristics and it feels like my parents do not discipline him at all which annoys me very much.
When he misbehaves, I tend to tell him off lightly, but my brother has now developed an ability to answer back to me very rudely. My parents do nothing about this and this causes an anger to build up inside of me. I have never felt anything quite like it. My gut tightens and I feel a blinding rage and before I know it, I'm screaming uncontrollably and I basically end up in tears in my room.
I know it sounds completely pathetic, but I get angry very easily and for some reason, it is only when I start screaming that my parents notice, and I end up getting in trouble while my brother ends up getting away with everything he does even though he initiates any argument in the house.
I know it sounds bad, but I feel my parents' disciplining skills are not what they should be with my brother. They used to discipline me but they expect me to discipline him, and then play the parent card on me when I lose it. They never say anything to him. He has done some very spiteful things but has gotten away scot free.
I have tried everything from ignoring him, to breathing exercises, to staying in my room and spending minimal time with him. But it always ends up with him doing things worse and worse to me until I have to react.
I really need some help to make him stop acting this way so that I can deal with my anger issues. Any help would be appreciated.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hi, and thanks for telling your story here. You are apparently a smart young woman, who wants to feel better and do the right thing.
You write very well, and I think you would benefit from the journaling exercise on this page. It will give you a safe and healthy way of processing your anger, and it will help you prevent the build up and explosion pattern you've been in.
It sounds like your parents are favoring your brother over you, and that is very unfortunate--for you and your brother as well. You are being burdened with parenting him, which is totally inappropriate and won't work, and he is getting a false sense of self-importance and an inflated ego because of the favoritism.
I don't know if this will work or not, but you could consider telling your parents that you refuse to parent him. You could say that it is their job, and you just won't do it.
Your job is to move into your adult life--with that in mind, is it possible that you could move out and get your own place? At 18, I know that can be difficult, but it might be your only real solution.
Another jouraling exercise that might help you is this positive one, which trains your mind to focus on what is good, right and working in your life.
Believe in yourself, focus on what is best and right for you. Direct your anger into a powerful determination to establish an independent life for yourself as soon as possible and get out on your own. Or, if your parents are open, suggest you get family therapy. A good family therapist will help them stop favoring your brother over you, and relieve you of the burden of parenting him.
You can do this. Focus on the goodness and strength in your heart.
My very best to you,
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