I come from a broken home. My mother was a serial adulterer with various major mental issues, and my father is a bitter man. My younger sister has some major issues as well and is abusive to both me and my father. Despite this, he seems to prefer her more. He is a pretty unemotional man by nature, but he is always talking with her and they have a lot of fun. He mentors her gently and speaks very kindly to her. She’s very mean to him, telling him to go and kill himself and has physically attacked both of us in the past, but he still adores her. I’ve always tried to be a good kid and played mediator between my parents when they were divorcing. I’ve gotten good grades, helped around the house, and even got accepted into a top university with a generous grant. I’m not saying that that warrants affection, but my dad can’t stand to be around me. He’s always very critical and controlling of me, to the point where I’ve begun to develop an eating disorder. He never sees my accomplishments as accomplishments and instead tears down what I’ve done. He’s always pushing me away in favor of someone else. There are times when he’d rather be with his work buddies than with me. I try to joke with him, make him smile, make him things, and generally be the best daughter I can be, but I feel as if he just feels obligated to be around me because he’s my father, not because he loves me. I feel this is because I look very much like his ex-wife, my mother. Or maybe it’s for some other reason, I really don’t know. All I’ve ever really wanted in life is for him to have some pride in me. My father is someone I look up to a lot and who I love more than anything. I would do anything for him. My family is very small. All we have is each other. I truly love both my sister and my father despite how they act, but I would like to feel that same love. I just want to know what I can do to make him love me the same way he loves my younger sister. How can I fix this? What should I do?
First of all, you really don’t know how much your father does or does not love you. Is it apparent? Do people who feel love always display it? Are there adult children, whose parents have died and who have never heard the words I love you from their parents?
Your father may actually prefer you and love you more but shows your sister more outward affection because he feels she needs that to function. He may be much harder on you because you are the more successful child, and he may feel that he is simply pushing you towards greater development and success.
We don’t know the answers to any of the questions that I have written above. We simply don’t know and we should not presume to know. He may simply give her more attention because she is already troubled and he is trying to make things better for her. Though we cannot know with certainty why he behaves the way he does, the previous explanation that I have suggested is likely close to the truth. I say that because it is often the case.
Does he show you love in other ways? Could you make a list of all the ways your father has shown you love or in other words how many nice things he’s done for you, or how many personal sacrifices he’s made for you? You’re young and there is likely a lot of time left in the development of your relationship with your father. Perhaps, the answers that you seek will simply come to you over time. Perhaps your relationship with your sister will improve as she matures.
Let’s take the worst-case scenario, which is very unlikely to be the case, your father and your sister do not love you. Can you survive without their love? Can you flourish without their love? The answer is yes in both cases. You could flourish under those circumstances and many, many people have done exactly the same thing. We must all overcome the circumstances of our lives. We are all born with certain advantages and disadvantages. It is your job in life, to overcome the disadvantages that you were born with or have encountered over time. The vast majority of persons must overcome their own disadvantages.
If it proves to be true that neither your sister or father loves you, that is a disadvantage that you must simply overcome and you will. Right now, it appears that you are suggesting that they love less than you would like. You would like to be treated better and you would hope that they would display more affection towards you — and that is a reasonable thing. Perhaps things will improve with the passage of time and with further growth in your relationship with the both of them but perhaps not.
At some point in your life, it will be the love of your spouse or the love of your children or the love of respected friends that will come to matter the most to you. It’s okay to complain about the bad things in life, but it is much more important to always realize and never take for granted the blessings in your life.
Good luck, now and always. Write again if I can be of any further assistance.
Dr. Kristina Randle