DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother has special needs, and he recently graduated from a special school that trained him to be able to do a simple job to make some money for himself. My family had a big celebration for him when he graduated; my mom invited around 60 people, and everyone brought him gifts and cards.
I am incredibly proud of my brother because this is a big step toward his independence. However, as I have grown older, I realize that I have begun to resent events that my mother insists on throwing for my brother. I never received any parties in my honor, other than small birthdays. He's had parties for passing medical criteria, graduating from middle school, adapting well to new medication, huge parties for every birthday and now this graduation. I feel as though none of my accomplishments are ever celebrated or even recognized.
I know this sour attitude is petty, and I should get over things that happened when I was a teenager. But we did not even celebrate my graduation from college. How can I move on from this and celebrate my brother wholeheartedly? I know we are different and that parts of life will be harder for him, but I have a grudge against him (and my mother, who throws the parties) for being the celebrated one in the family. -- Can't Let Go, Cincinnati
DEAR CAN'T LET GO: I bet you have never spoken up to say anything to your parents about this oversight. Too often when one child needs extra care, parents focus their attention on that child while inadvertently neglecting the other children in the family. The intention is good, but the execution falls off. Chances are, your parents think of you as self-sufficient, and therefore a party is not necessary for you.
You have to say something. Tell your parents the truth: that you have felt like an oversight. Without dumping on them, let them know that you would like to be acknowledged for your successes. By letting them know how you feel, hopefully without anger but with compassion, you can forgive them and your brother for not providing you with all that you have desired.