Many adults feel their mother treats them differently from their siblings. In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, researchers found that only 13.8% of adult respondents felt their mothers were equally close to all of the children in the family. When mothers show unequal treatment toward their children, feelings of jealousy and resentment often arise.
Mom's Right Hand
Mothers often believe one child is more responsible than the others. This role usually falls on the oldest child, who has been mom's biggest helper since childhood. This child may continue fulfilling this role into adulthood, and be the one that mom always goes to for help. This can cause friction with siblings, with the one bearing more responsibility feeling resentful and the other siblings feeling left out. If you feel your mother depends on you more than your siblings, set boundaries for how much you can do. When your mom asks for too much, kindly let her know you won't be able to help this time, and she should go to one of your brothers or sisters.
The Golden Child
Some mothers have one child who they believe can do no wrong, causing jealousy among siblings. Mothers often take great pride in children who stand out in areas such as academics, sports or beauty. Siblings who pale in comparison may feel they will never be good enough to earn mom's love. When this dynamic spills over into adulthood, it can lead to feelings of low self-esteem. Adult children need to realize their worth is not based on accomplishments or mom's approval.
Baby of the Family
Parents and older siblings usually treat the youngest child as the baby. While moms expect older children to handle household chores, the youngest usually has less responsibility. Some moms are also more reluctant to encourage the youngest to be independent because they enjoy being a caretaker. If you feel your mom babies you more than your siblings, let your mom know you appreciate her help, but you are fully capable of doing things for yourself.
The Black Sheep
Some moms have a child who is more difficult and challenging than the others. This child may feel they were punished more often and more severely than their siblings. Children who feel their mother views them as a failure often live up to that expectation and make poor decisions as teenagers and young adults. Even when children straighten up and become responsible adults, their mother may still expect the worst. If your mother is not able to leave the past behind, it's time for a candid conversation. You should be accountable for past mistakes, but let your mother know what you have learned and how you handle things differently now.
Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images