Sibling rivalry is so common they created the term sibling rivalry to describe it. But sometimes that inherent competition between siblings for their parent’s time and affection is impacted by other factors.
And that perception—that the other sibling gets more—can lead to resentment, even when the child who is getting more attention has no control over or blame for the reason why.
Redditor unacaoimhe is experiencing the jealousy and resentment of a child who gets less because their sibling needs more.
After a recent incident, they went to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for absolutely despising my physically disabled brother?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“When I was 13, my parents had my younger brother. They only intended on having one child, me, but he was a ‘happy surprise’. The main reason they only wanted one child is because my mom is a Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy carrier and didn’t want to risk having a boy and him having it.”
“My brother was born and my mom started noticing signs when he was about 2, when he went on to be diagnosed with DMD. I’m now 20, and my brother is 7.”
“My parents have always massively babied him, he has little to no discipline and does whatever he wants, and gets away with it because my parents don’t want to spend the entire time they have with him telling he can’t do things he wants to.”
OP explained what their relationship with their brother is like.
“I’ve never connected with him at all, it’s an awkward age gap and we have absolutely nothing in common. As well as that, I went from being an only child for 13 years to having a brother that required a lot of extra attention and I resented him for it during my teenage years.”
“Over the past year or so, he has deteriorated greatly and a lot quicker than he was expected to. He can’t walk and requires a wheelchair, which meant giving up my bedroom downstairs after 20 years of it being mine.”
“In all honesty I find it quite embarrassing having so much equipment for him in the house so I rarely bring friends round. He’s already started showing signs of heart deterioration which means my parents are constantly worried and rarely have time for me. With the rate at which he’s deteriorating, he’s not expected to live past his teenage years.”
Everything came to a head recently.
“A few nights ago I was doing some work for college. I’m a key worker so I had just got home from a 8 hour shift and was absolutely exhausted. I went downstairs with my laptop and my mom and brother were in the kitchen watching something.”
“My mom asked me to watch him so she could go to the bathroom and I, as a joke, said ‘it’s not like he can go anywhere, he’s not strong enough to move his own wheelchair’ and she told me off and left.”
“I was trying to do work when my brother just kept asking me to do stuff with him. As I said, we don’t have a relationship and I was trying to do work so I just ignored him.”
He kept pestering me and eventually said ‘why do you never spend time with me’ and I responded by telling him it was because I didn’t like him. My mom walked back in at that exact moment and grabbed my arm and pulled me upstairs before saying if I ever spoke to my brother like that again she’d kick me out.”
“I told her it’s not like she’d notice anyway because she never talks to me.”
“We haven’t spoken since and apparently my brother is upset.”
This would normally be where Redditors come in to vote with acronyms to be counted by a bot to determine if the OP is an a**hole or not.
But the responses to this question were pretty easy to predict.
“YTA. Sorry, but he is a dead man rolling.n He may be spoiled, but so apparently are you.”
“Everyone over 18 pays for their accommodations somehow. The only payment you are required to do is to be nice to a dying boy, and maybe spend an hour a day with him.”
“Cheapest rent I ever heard.” ~ NewYorkDancer
But Redditor senortipton had a unique perspective to share.
They understood exactly where the OP was coming from.
“After all these months of browsing AITA this is the post I am uniquely qualified to judge. I have been in a very similar position to you for over 20 years.”
“I’ll provide you, unacaoimhe, some background so you can understand our similarities and then I’ll proceed to the judgement and why.”
They shared their own story about their strained relationship with their younger brother.
“When I was just 4 years old my mother had my brother who was born without genetic issues. He was, for all anyone could tell, a normal, healthy baby. At 4 years old I had been very excited to have a younger brother as at the time we lived out in the country with no nearby children to play with; I could not wait for him to get older.”
“Several months after his birth he choked on his own spit-up and had to be airlifted to a hospital. Unfortunately, the amount of time he was off of oxygen resulted in brain damage to the area of his brain that controlled the five senses and motor functions.”
“The doctors told my mother at the time that if they continued to support him he would grow up a vegetable with no outside stimuli from which to learn and develop his sense of self since he could not even make use of his five senses and would likely have cerebral palsy as well.”
“At the time this was way too much for a 4 year old to comprehend and I just wanted my brother to recover so I could play with him.”
But his mother had hope.
“My mother decided she would not give up on my brother and so they continued to work on him and keep him healthy. Medicine at that time was not as advanced as it is today and their assessment of my brother was likely premature as he ended up recovering in all aspects except for a mild form of cerebral palsy.”
“Despite his recovery, it was a long road to reach this point and unfortunately for me I had no choice but to partake in it. Having a brother who could not fulfill my own selfish wishes and constantly required the care and attention of my parents when I was still in my own developmental stage led to a deep-seated hatred for my brother who had ‘ruined’ my life before I could even go to school.”
“That hatred would continue for many years until recently.”
“My brother’s issues (like uncontrollable bowel movements and constantly injuring himself due to a lack of motor control) only exacerbated [our parents’] already fragile relationship and led to their separation. My parents would then begin a back and forth custody battle that lasted until I was 16.”
“I moved around at least every 2 years. Just enough time to make friends, but never enough to keep them. I had nobody to look to but myself and as a result my childhood I feel was robbed of me.”
“During that time my parents lived far enough away that we had to fly as minors and I was expected to watch and take care of a brother (at least that was my view at the time) with all of these issues from the age of 8 to 16.”
“This made me abusive, both physically and emotionally, and I regret it every time I see him now.”
“When I finally left for college I felt the most free I had ever felt in my entire life. I could finally do everything I ever wanted without my brother weighing me down.”
“Eventually my brother, who at this point was almost normal, made it into college as well at the time I was graduating. My mother, whom it was no secret to that I had such hatred for him, sent me an email of my brother’s college essay on who he admires.”
“I don’t know how she got a hold of it, but that doesn’t matter. In his essay he wrote about me. How since he was a little kid he had always looked up to me because I could do all the simple things like playing sports and having friends that wouldn’t make fun of me, etc. etc. and how he wished he could do that.”
“How his entire inspiration for never giving up and trying to rehabilitate himself—from a position that he has never known any different—was me, despite all of the abuse I put him through.”
“I have never felt such shame and abhorrence for myself until that point. That scenario led me to do serious introspection and I hope I am a better man today because of it.”
They then offered their judgment of the OP.
“So as you can see I understand your pain and frustration perhaps better than anybody else here. I have lived with it for most of my life.”
“It wasn’t fair for my parents to force these responsibilities on a child, for me to take care of my brother like that, for me to lose out on my childhood in many aspects—but ultimately it happened anyways and I have to make peace with it and my brother.”
“Your parents are certainly assholes for having a kid anyways despite knowing the consequences, but YOU ARE MOST CERTAINLY YTA because of what you have already done. I plead with you to not do what I did for 20 years to my brother.”
“I don’t want you or your brother to live with that shame and abuse for the rest of your life.”
“Learn to accept him and your situation and treat him with kindness and love—he surely only wants you to accept him and love him the most because you are the light of his life and his hope to be normal.”
The OP came back to provide an update after being declared the a**hole by the forum.
“I’ve read pretty much all your comments now, and all of the pleasant messages I’ve got. I have come to the conclusion that I have been pushing my brother away because I’m scared to watch him deteriorate and eventually die, but I’m not going to do that anymore.”
“He has limited time here and I’m going to make my relationship with him the best it can be before he goes. I apologised to my parents and told them how I felt and they apologised.”
“I apologised to my brother and he asked me to play with him so I did, we had fun. Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it.”
Hopefully this is the beginning of a new relationship for these siblings for the limited time they have to spend together.