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home : columns : dear harriette March 1, 2021

1/7/2021 7:57:00 AM
Sibling afraid of playing favorites with family

DEAR HARRIETTE: I hate it when I hear that people play favorites in their family, but now I realize that I do it myself. I have several siblings, and as an adult, I see that I am much closer to one of them than the others. It happened naturally. When we were growing up, we spent a lot of time together. And, quite frankly, we genuinely like each other, so we enjoy talking. My other siblings have either not expressed much interest in me or have been downright mean or rude. I mostly ignored that negative behavior when I was younger, but now I realize that the impact is that I talk to only one sibling at the exclusion of the others. Is that wrong? Whenever I reach out to the others, I get my feelings hurt in one way or the other. Am I playing favorites by being close only to one of them? -- Playing Favorites

DEAR PLAYING FAVORITES: Generally, the concept of "playing favorites" refers to parents who do not treat their children equally. As a sibling, I think you get a pass in that department. Gravitating to a sibling who treats you in a loving, natural way is normal. If the others are mean or rude, it is also likely that you would not have cultivated a strong bond with them. That sounds more like survival skills kicking in than favoritism.

If your gut tells you that you could do more to cultivate a closer bond with your other siblings, give it a try. You don't need to have the goal of matching your relationship with your other sibling. Instead, just reach out more and see if you can spark up a loving exchange with them as adults.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am so worried about how my family and I are going to make it in 2021. I have a temporary job now because my company went out of business during COVID-19. I have three children, and my wife works a low-wage job, too. We are seriously struggling. We have been too embarrassed to go to a food pantry or ask for help of any kind. That's not how we were raised. But now I'm at my wit's end. What can we do? -- In Need

DEAR IN NEED: COVID-19 has struck our families and communities in so many ways. I'm so sorry to hear about your challenges. Please know that there is no shame in asking for help. Indeed, you must advocate for yourself and your family. There are resources out there to support families in need, but you have to take the initiative to find them. First, make a list of what you need. Don't be shy. Write down everything. If you are clear, it will help you when you are searching for support. Make another list of your skills and abilities. As you look for work, you will need to be able to state clearly how you can benefit a potential employer.

You can contact the government directly for help. Go to Health and Human Services at hhs.gov, which has different grants you can apply to for aid. Go to usa.gov and home.treasury.gov to find out about financial disaster relief. Beyond that, look into local charities and food banks. Do not hesitate. Thousands of families take advantage of the generosity of these organizations that give food to people every day.





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