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Topic: Favoritism (02/28/05)
By Phil Naessens
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But what happens when favoritism becomes unhealthy? What happens when our personal choice of a favorite does life-long damage to another human being?
The following true story describes such favoritism.
Patrick was the eldest of two brothers by 21 month’s. It became fairly obvious to Patrick at a very early age that his younger brother Charles was his mother’s favorite. It wasn’t a conscious act by the mother to favor her youngest above her eldest, it was just the way it happened to be. It was also highly noticeable to everyone around this family-just never talked about-especially to the boy’s mother.
The problem for Charles was that Patrick excelled in music, sports and school where he was only average, and Charles was incredibly jealous of his older brother-despite being the favorite son. Charles did everything he could to sabotage his older brothers efforts-he wanted everything for him, yet to no avail. When that didn’t happen, he destroyed every good memory that Patrick ever had-cutting sporting ribbons into pieces, destroying certificates and pictures simply because of his jealousy-all the while the mother stood idly by refusing to punish her favorite son.
Charles was a very good manipulator and continually put Patrick down to other people-usually Patrick’s friends and extended family members. Because he was the favorite, he knew he could get away with it as his mother always took his side in any dispute involving the two brothers, whether internally or externally.
Charles also had a great knack for becoming part of whatever Patrick enjoyed-and tried to become his older brother in every way. Charles followed his brother everywhere, insinuating his way into every facet of his brother’s life, and successfully undermining his older brother’s efforts and friendships. Patrick involved himself in sports and music as a way to escape the unfairness of favoritism- and when even that didn’t free him, he quit doing the things that pleased him most-his self-esteem in tatters.
Patrick honestly tried everything he could to live in this very difficult situation and make the best of things, assisting his younger brother in gaining employment and introducing Charles to people who could help him, because Patrick felt by taking the high road and not taking a stand against this situation his mother would treat he and his brother equally, which never happened and Patrick closed himself off emotionally to the situation-and to the rest of the world.
Patrick finally left his family and never looked back. He bounced around from town to town for a few years, isolating himself from anyone who tried to get too close to him-he just didn’t trust anyone enough to share his pain-or his life. He began to drink heavily and use drugs in a vain attempt to get past the pain of his past. Tragically, Patrick was found dead in a hotel room in Mobile Alabama of a drug overdose at the age of 25.
I often wonder how many children out there face the same dilemma that my friend Patrick did. It still breaks my heart when I remember how talented he was, and how he tried so very hard to be treated equally by his mother-yet it just never happened for him. He had so much going for him on the outside, but inside his heart was broken so badly that he didn’t trust anyone enough to help him through it-not even God.
This tragic story is rooted in favoritism in its most destructive form-parental favoritism. Patrick’s self esteem was sabotaged by sibling jealousy and a parent who unconsciously favored one son over another. Patrick could never get past the fact that it wasn’t his fault that his mother loved his younger brother more then him-which destroyed him in the end.
I hope and pray it never happens again!
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