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I feel awkward about being "posher" than my family

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 01 April 2016
Dear Patricia Marie,
My mother is from a working-class family, but she went to university, got a good job and married my upper-middle-class father. I had a privileged upbringing, which makes me feel awkward around my mum's family.

My cousins are much closer to each other than to me, partly because they all live in the same town while I live 2 hours away. We get on well enough, but I don't really connect with them because our interests and tastes are so different. They make fun of my "posh" accent, hobbies, etc. I'm sure it's meant as a joke, but actually it really upsets me, although I hide it. I worry that they think I consider myself superior. Now when I'm with them I change my accent and keep quiet about my lifestyle.

Is it unhealthy to feel like you have to be a different person around your family? How can I make them stop teasing me without being whiny? I know that I am very privileged compared to them and so I shouldn't complain, but it is really upsetting me.

Patricia Marie says...

Social class prejudice is still very much in evidence today, although perhaps less openly expressed than it used to be. It is an unfortunate fact that society can make sweeping assumptions about people based solely on their accents. Class differences need to be acknowledged and interpreted without judgement, so that these differences can be enjoyed and appreciated.

There may be an element of jealousy from your cousins, or it could just be that they would love to accept you into the family circle, but that your reluctance to share your life experiences and feelings makes you seem unapproachable. If you could open up to them, you might all start to enjoy each other's company and greatly improve the relationship between you.

One of the most common mistakes we can make when we feel we don't belong, is to try and fit in. You are who you are. No more, no less. Counselling could help you establish what specifically triggers your current feelings, and also increase your self esteem, making it easier for you not to take your cousins' comments to heart.

You are unique, and will hopefully in time realise that your acceptance by others should not be the basis of your happiness. I suggest you put more importance on the relationships you do have that enhance your happiness, rather than considering changing yourself to suit others. Embrace who you are, and you should start to feel more joyful and fulfilled in your life.

We may never escape all judgment and discrimination, but we can learn to value ourselves. Remember, nobody can make you feel bad about yourself unless you allow this.

British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) 01455 883300

Family First

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 13 November 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have been seeing a man I met on the internet for the last six months.

Everything seems fine, except he really resents me wanting to spend any time with my daughters, aged 24 and 26. I made it clear to him from the very start that they were a huge part of my life.

Both of them have left home now and I try to see each of them at least once a week for a day or evening to catch up on what has been happening in their lives and because I do miss them since they moved out. We talk on the phone most days but somehow that is not the same as actually seeing them.

However, my boyfriend gets quite irritated if they ring when I am with him, and always tuts and shakes his head if I say I am going to visit one of them. And he never asks how they are, or suggests we visit together. He has no children of his own. He is now 54 years old and I think he wishes he had his own children, and perhaps resents my close relationship with mine.

What can I do, as I can see this becoming a big stumbling block in our relationship?

Patricia Marie says...

This man knew your children were part of the package at the outset, and can't pretend they don't exist just because he would rather have you to himself. He needs to accept how important they are to you, and not make you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with them, or indeed speaking with them on the telephone. You should never be put in a position where you feel you have to choose between your partner and your children.

Your boyfriend is clearly showing signs of jealousy. The trigger for this may well be that he is resentful as he has no children of his own, or alternatively there may be other factors contributing to his irrational behaviour. I suggest you open up to him about your concerns, as this may prompt him to share his feelings with you. Listen to what he has to say, but make it clear that his attitude towards your daughters is having an adverse effect on you, which if left unresolved could spoil your relationship, and may ultimately destroy it.

Instead of you visiting your daughters alone, invite them over to yours for dinner. Tell your partner it would mean so much to you if he could make an effort with them, even initially just for the one evening. Include him in the hospitality. Perhaps he could organise some games to help make him feel part of the family. You never know, if he allows himself to get to know your girls, he may actually enjoy their company, and even better, begin to bond with them.

My daughter is being difficult

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 05 June 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have one daughter aged 16. Her father left us when she was a baby, and we were on our own until I met my partner 2 years ago. She is the most adorable daughter, and it was wonderful to see how well the two of them got on. Everything was perfect until just recently when we told her we were expecting a baby of our own.

Since then she refuses to speak to us, slams doors and is rude to us. We have tried to reassure her that having this baby won't make any difference in her life or between us, but any mention of the baby and she either becomes angry or bursts into tears. I have tried to be patient, but she is spoiling what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. Please advise.

Patricia Marie says.....

I can understand how worried and upset you are feeling. As you say, this should be a 'happy' time for you. At the moment you are seeing your daughter's behaviour as unreasonable and unfair.

Nevertheless, labelling her doesn't help. Understanding her feelings can. Step into your daughter's shoes and start to see things from her point of view. After all, having a baby may be exciting and wonderful for you and your partner, but your daughter perceives this news as a threat to her place in the family. Of course she's upset. For 16 years she's been the number one in your life. She's scared she's no longer important, and is feeling rejected and hurt.

Recognise the confusion and pain your daughter is feeling. What she needs is plenty of love and understanding. Don't pressure her to be more accepting of the news, or make her feel guilty about not having a happy response. Instead, give her time and space to get used to the idea. Perhaps she would like to help decorate the nursery. Ask her opinion on name choices. Involving your daughter in plans around the forthcoming birth will make her feel very much included, and will also help her to come to terms with your pregnancy.
Be honest and tell her things will be different, but the love you have for her will never change. As your daughter gets used to the idea of having a sister or brother she will become far less angry and anxious. Gently explain to her that although the baby will initially demand your attention, you will also ensure the two of you get to enjoy special time together. When she trusts the fact she's still loved and wanted, she will soon grow to accept and adore her new sibling, and in time you can all get to enjoy the special times that lie ahead.

For further help, advice and guidance, I highly recommend Family Lives (formerly Parent Line Plus) There help line is open 24 hours.

0808 800 2222  

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