My mom is extremely unaffectionate towards me, though she’s always trying to hug my brother (who pushes her away). I think I realized it when I was pretty young. My brother is six years younger than me, and my mom had two miscarriages in between us. From the day he was born my mom hasn’t stopped hugging and kissing him.
At first, I thought it was what babies needed, and I hugged and kissed him all day too. But then when I would reach for a hug, my mom would pull away, apologizing. I thought she didn’t want to use up any of her hugs for the baby, so for a long time I stopped asking.
But as I got older, and the baby did too, I started asking again. My mom would just shrug and push me away. I’m 14 now, and I see how other moms are with all of their children, not just the “baby,” and I know there’s something wrong with the way my mom is so cold with me.
What have I done to make her this way?
Hoping for Hugs
You haven’t done anything wrong; don’t blame yourself. From all the things you have told me, it sounds as though your mom suffered from some depression after both miscarriages, followed by huge elation after the birth of your brother.
I am not a psychiatrist or mental health professional, but such lows, amidst major hormone shifts due to pregnancy, miscarriage and birth, followed by a high can mess with someone’s balance. I strongly believe that your mother needs help, and I’m surprised that your father or any other adult family member hasn’t noticed.
In the meantime, you would benefit from talking to someone on your own, who can help you try to understand the complexities of your mother’s experience, confirm that none of this is your fault, and help you have a healthy and successful life.
Your mother may never come around to being affectionate towards you, unfortunately. But you can’t let that define who you are, and how you can get and show affection to and from others in healthy, normal ways.
My sister sneaks out of the house several nights a week to meet her friends in the park. They smoke weed and hang out. She’s figured out what time is best to leave and come back without getting caught. I didn’t even know until one night when I went to her room and she was climbing in the window.
She’s lucky she came back then because I was just about to walk around the house looking for her. If I hadn’t found her, I would have called her. And if she hadn’t answered, I would have woken up my mom.
Now she wants me to keep her secret, which I have, but it scares me. I let it go during the summer because we were all away for a few weeks.
But school has started again and I don’t like it that she’s out late. I’ve asked her to stop, but she’s my sister. I don’t want to tell on her. She’d never forgive me.
It’s not fair of your sister to put you in an uncomfortable position. As an adult, I wouldn’t like it if my teenage daughter or niece were out at night, smoking weed in a park. But its normal for teenagers not to see the potential dangers.
So, I’m just curious – what are you afraid of? Whatever your fears, they’re legit. Share them with your sister. Tell her you can’t sleep knowing she’s out. Explain to her that she has to stop or you’ll have no choice but to tell your parents for your mental health and her physical safety.
FEEDBACK Regarding the teenage girl who felt uncomfortable at her boyfriend’s house (Sept. 14):
Reader – “You are correct to tell the young woman that at 18, and newly dating a guy whose family made her uncomfortable, it is too early to worry about the situation.
“However, she is old enough to start to see the wider world of family dynamics, and to keep a sharp eye out for pitfalls which could make for a horrible life later. Recently, I have heard men warning younger men to have a very good look at their girlfriend’s mom. To see how she behaves, because girls grow up to be their mums while boys grow up to be their dads.
“I am not hearing much advice to young women to be more proactive in choosing partners and to move away from trying to be rescued by a non-existent prince.”