Stories 3: Of favoritism and consequences

Story 1

J suddenly remarked, “there’s a monster in my home.” I jokingly asked her, “are you referring to yourself?” She replied, “No, it’s my brother. He should be locked up!” I was a little startled. She continued, “my mother has finally seen through his lies, and given up on him. But my father is still indecisive, still can’t bring himself to accept how his son has turned out.”

J’s brother is 9 years younger than her. Being the youngest in the family, the parents dotted on him. When her brother was 10 years old, J went overseas for college. When she returned home more than a decade later, the innocent cute little boy, whom she had helped babysit when he was very little, had become somebody whom she couldn’t recognized. It’s not so much the physical appearance, but the person he turns into. It wasn’t apparent initially, he’s good at sweet talking and spinning stories.

Over the years, J realizes that he has been involved in various shenanigans, taking party drugs, involving in loanshark activities and even getting into debts himself which the parents had to pay off, theft from the family home, and even aggression. But J’s parents refused to force him to face up to consequences. The mother kept hoping that he would mend his ways. J tried talking to him but it fell into deaf ears. She tried telling her parents that they had to be firm, yet they kept siding with him. What made it difficult is that the brother is a pathological liar and manipulative. When he needed money from his mother, he put on a super nice front which softened her.

J’s last straw was when she found her credit card missing and was later notified by the bank that it had been been used. Turned out it was her brother who stole her card. J was furious and wanted to report the matter to the police. But her parents were vehemently against it, citing that he was her own brother, and by going to the cops, she was disregarding their blood relations. J had no choice but to drop the matter since her mother actually accused her of trying to get her brother into trouble with the law.

J had fought with her mom several times over her brother, and eventually J gave up and washes her hands off the matter. She doesn’t want her mom to bring up any of his problems to her. It is for this reason that J left home to work in another country, while her parents continued to hope their son will turn over a new leaf.

It finally reaches tipping point when J’s parents found out their bottles of expensive whiskey were missing, and realized their son was the culprit. He had sold them to finance his bad habits. The parents were so furious that they wanted to report to the cops, but couldn’t because of lack of evidence. J’s mother is now heartbroken when she finally faces up to the fact that her son is incorrigible. But her father is still in two minds about him. How do you face up to your own child turning bad?

Story 2

S has always tried to overlook the fact that his parents favor his younger brother over the other children. His brother has been the apple of the parents’ eyes because he’s the most academically bright of all the siblings.

Since young, S has struggled with weight problem. He and his siblings were fed mainly spam by their mother who was ignorant of good nutrition. Thank God S participated in sport which mitigated the problem to some extent, but it wasn’t enough. S’s younger brother, on the other hand, was able to overcome the weight problem successfully. To the mom, who strangely has an obsession with slimness, that was probably another plus point of her younger son. She often says to S that he has chubby cheeks or points out his physical flaws.

The parents compared their children against each others. The least academically bright got the brunt of the scoldings from the father. S accepted the different treatments stoically, believing that he should be a filial son to his parents. When he started working after graduation, his family fell into hard times when his father got entangled in a court case. Other than his necessary expenditure, he gave his salary to his parents to support them as well as his siblings who were still studying.

The favoritism of one child wasn’t blatant all the time, but when it was, it got a little galling. When S’s younger brother got married, he and his fiancé flew back to their hometown where his father had made all the arrangements for the grand wedding dinner at a high-end hotel. The problem was that somehow the seating capacity was not properly allocated and the parents realized that there was not enough seats for the guests. Inexplicably, instead of asking the hotel to open up another table, the father told the other children that they had to give up their seats for the guests and hang around outside the dining hall. S didn’t think it was fair but he and his other siblings complied.

Even when the children became adults, the comparisons continued. The parents are proud of S’s younger brother, who has a very successful career and is making the big bucks. They, especially the father, are impressed that he lives in a large house, owns another property in a sought after area, drives fancy cars, and married a wife from a well-to-do family. But when it comes to taking care of the aged parents, he turns out to be the most stingy, refusing to contribute more to the parents’ expenditure fund even though he makes the most money and also claims that he has more than enough to retire now. Strangely he thinks that he got to where he is due to his hard work, and he was in college on scholarship with no financial help from his father and so he doesn’t think he has any financial obligations to his parents.

As with any parents who blindly favored one child over the others, they don’t or refuse to accept that the apple of their eyes has little respect for them, not bothering to visit them when he and his wife return to her home for vacations. Yet the father continues to have high regards for him and thinks that his son is constrained by his wife, while taking his other children for granted. This is especially so for S, who’s made the IT support and the errand boy. What’s worst is that S is often talked down, and when he encountered a personal crisis a few years ago, he was considered not mentally strong, unlike his younger brother. S eventually has had enough, and told his parents that it was difficult for him to respect them when they don’t respect him and continue with their dissing attitude. His mom is contrite for her insensitive remarks. But his father continues to be stubborn, refusing to acknowledge his favoritism folly despite him being a victim of favoritism from his own father. How do you deal with an abused parent who turns abuser?

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