Question: Dear Luise: I have 4 children; an 11 year-old boy, 9 and 6yearr-old girls and a 3 year-old boy. My oldest son gets along great with his sisters but hates his younger brother. When we found out we were pregnant with our youngest, he started disliking him right when we told him. He torments him and aggravates him whenever he can. He says it’s because he wants to be the only boy. We have taken him to counseling and the counselor says it sounds like first-born syndrome and we should make time for him alone, by himself and with either parent, which we have and I know it’s going to take time, but seems to be doing nothing. And it seems to be getting worse. I was hurt at first knowing my son hates his only brother and now, I’m just angry! No amount of talking, crying, pleading or yelling is doing it. I’m just afraid they will grow up and not have that brother connection. I just don’t know what to do with a son who says he could care less if his younger brother died. T.
Answer: Dear T.: Your issue needs to be taken beyond my website and I know you have tried that and feel you’ve had very little improvement.
I would shop for a different counselor. Certainly, it’s something you need additional help with or it could mushroom into a serious situation. A three year-old is adorable and it seems like your elder son can’t stand the competition. He was apparently very impressed with his status as the only boy and then along comes another son that has captured everyone’s heart, as only babies can.
As a result, your elder son’s behavior is making him less and less appealing, which makes the contrast greater and whole thing worse. You are angry, understandably, and so his fears are becoming a reality and he may be experiencing some level of rejection. How, then, do you make him feel special when he is fast becoming unattractive to be around. Full circle…it’s a mess.
I would be concerned about the present, not their future relationship; perhaps even to fearing for your second son’s safety. Don’t give up on this. Keep looking for a solution until you find one. For instance, is there a grandparent that might step forward to take you elder son into an environment that would feel more supportive to him? I have no idea if that might be interpreted as further rejection; it’s just a thought.
Your youngest is naturally the center of attention and your family dynamics are complex to say the least. Your daughters may see their little brother as someone to “mother” and love every minute of it. It is easy to see how your elder son could feel like the “odd man out.” Again, don’t give up; keep looking for help with this until you find it. Blessings, Luise