A letter to my parents, whose favouritism ripped our family apart


The letter you always wanted to write

To say favouritism ripped my family apart is an understatement. From my earliest memories, my mother was a religious fanatic and we had religion rammed down our throats day and night. She was always telling us that the Bible was written for our instruction and we were to learn from biblical examples (Romans 15:4). It was such a pity that she never read the book of Genesis, about how Jacobs favouritism ripped his family apart too, resulting in Josephs kidnapping and slavery.

I was about five when I found out how deeply entrenched the favouritism in my family was: one winters day I was drawing pictures with my younger sister; we kept asking my parents whose drawing they liked best and they always chose hers, so the very next drawing we did I asked my sister to swap drawings with me. When my father chose my sisters drawing again, I proudly exclaimed: Thats my picture. He replied: Ive changed my mind I prefer this one. Words arent enough to explain how crestfallen I was. I couldnt have been more hurt if Id have been thrashed.

When my brother was born I could have been dead for all my parents cared; I spent a lot of time out on the streets or at a friends house rather than be at home. I tried for years to be good to get their attention, but I ended up defeated at every attempt a good school report was always met with Meh or You should do well at school. I was always the whipping boy for whenever my three younger siblings did wrong or they were in a mood. Every time love and attention was shown to them, it chipped away at my very soul.

My greatest let-down was when my parents were going to put their two favourite children (my middle sister and brother) through university and they refused to fund me even though I begged. Sadly, I didnt know how badly the favouritism affected my younger sister and when she was 16 she took an overdose and has had severe mental health problems ever since.

I married young and I know that I stayed in an abusive marriage too long because of my upbringing. My parents didnt care one iota about my children, even though they lavished gifts and attention on my siblings children.

My mothers favourite saying was, You reap what you sow, and she certainly did. My brother has spent most of his adult life in prison and my other sister was involved in crime and violence but to this day my mother will not have a bad word said about them.

It took me until my late 20s to realise that my parents would never change; when the favoured siblings had grown up they treated me and my sister with the same disdain my parents did.

My epiphany came one year when my parents held a big party and family, friends and neighbours were all invited except me. I broke off all ties with my family by my mid-30s and I dont regret a moment of it, although sometimes (in my weaker moments) I think what a terrible shame that favouritism ripped our family apart. But like the biblical Joseph, my sister and I were the collateral damage of my parents actions and I wouldnt wish such treatment on my worst enemy.


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We will pay 25 for every Letter to (please write about 600-700 words), Playlist, Snapshot or We Love to Eat we publish. Write to Family Life, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email family@theguardian.com. Please include your address and phone number. We are only able to reply to those whose contributions we are going to use

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/13/a-letter-to-my-parents-whose-favouritism-ripped-our-family-apart

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