Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in their myriad forms.
The Drama Begins...............
The family is supposed to be a supportive system of related individuals. The purpose of families are to encourage and support each member whether it is to express one's individuality and/or to achieve one's goals in life. Families are to love and nurture and want the best for its individual members. Well......this is not necessarily the case.
Many families have drama and a hidden agenda within its system. There are family members who actually backstab and sabotage each other in a manner which makes your enemy seem angelic. Still other family members do not wish to have any member of their unit outsucceed them in any way. Many family members have no love lost between them whatsoever.
Why you ask is there such discordance and jealously within families. Well, there are many variables regarding familial jealousy. For example, there is a blue collar family and one child wishes to pursue tertiary education and beyond. This child eventually obtains his/her goal and become wildly successful in his/her career. This blue collar family, the parents and siblings, instead of feeling happy for the achieving family member, contend that he/she is "better than they are" and " are elitist".
This blue collar family assert that this college or graduate school career member totally disdains them. In fact, they feel quite uncomfortable with the fact that their child "dares" to be unsatisfied with his/her "lot" in life and "have the audacity" to want more. This family is thinking to themselves why would this child want more and who does he/she think he/she is. They further add that this child is no better than the rest of the family.
They feel envy toward the high achieving member of the family because he/she dared to break free of the family tradition that dictated that one goes to work after completing secondary education. They further contend that no one in a blue collar family aspire to tertiary education because such education is only for the upper middle and upper classes. They are just nonplussed that a blue collar child expresses the desire to obtain such an education and have white collar dreams.
Many successful people from blue collar and working class families had an uphill and arduous battle with parents and other relatives in pursuing their dream. Many blue collar and working class families believe that phenomenal success is not for them, only for the wealthy. They teach their children not to have what they believe to be unrealistic dream of education, fame, and affluence. They inundate their children just to get a job, not have a career.
So when an ambitious blue collar and working class child wishes to pursue a goal out of the purview of their families, they are often met with discouragement and sometimes derision. They are often told when they finish high school to just get a job. If they protest this, they are told that they should be glad to get a job, to grow up, and stop being in the clouds.
Many children from lower income homes experience the same thing. Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul, related that when she was a child in rural Mississippi, her grandmother informed me that she should get some good Caucasian people to work for. Ms. Winfrey relayed that she was totally nonplussed at this. She knew that she wanted something better in life than being a maid.
Many lower income families, as with blue collar and working class families, maintain that any form of higher education is totally superfluous and impractical. Their purview is that their children should be working as early as possible. Many lower income children become successful despite the admonitions of their family and other relatives not to attain further education and to realize their respective dreams.
My maternal first cousin once removed came from a lower income family. She was the first one in her family to obtain a Master's Degree(in psychology). She has a thriving career; however, her immediate and extended family were quite envious of her. They maintain that she feels superior to them. They deride her education and lifestyle choice at every opportunity. The majority of her family members either are at and/or near the poverty level. One of her cousins even stated that she was "weird" because she has "too much" education.
Then there is the issue of sibling rivalry. There are siblings who are quite envious of those who elect to achieve and succeed in areas outside the family purview. These siblings contend that if they are at a certain level of success, no one should go beyond their level of success. There was a segment on 48 hours which a multimillionaire brother was framed and imprisoned by his two less successful brothers(one brother was unemployed). The modus operandi of these two brothers is that if they are not successful, their brother should not be!
Parental envy is seldom mentioned but it is quite commonplace in many families. There are parents who had a hardscrabble life but nevertheless they overcame this, having a more affluent life as adults and as parents. They view their children having an easier life than they life- wishing that it was THEM! These parents are the ones that say that their children have it "too easy" and are the "lucky ones" often with derision, masking their underlying jealousy. They seem to be happy for their children but subconsciously they are not.
This familial envy is not relegated to socioeconomic grounds but included psychosocial ones. One noted celebrity who is a triple threat indicated that her mother did not receive nurturance from her parents. This celebrity stated that she had a close and loving relationship with her father and the mother would coldly remark that she was a "daddy's girl". This celebrity maintained that her mother never showed her outer displays of affection and seldom complemented her while she achieved anything of note.
Parents who did not receive adequate attention and love as children tend to be attention hungry. They are highly uncomfortable that their children receive more attention than they did. These parents would often do anything to deflect the attention from their children to themselves. One mother, whose only child was the teacher's pet and honor student, went to the teacher to divulge less than positive details regarding her daughter. This mother grew up neglected and attention deprived as the oldest of eleven children. She clearly do not want her daughter to receive the attention that she never received thus she reported the negative details of her daughter's life in a bid to deflect the attention from her daughter.
Many parents, especially as their children are burgeoning adults, become fiercely competitive with them as to recapture their youth or to hold on to their fading youth. These parents are threatened if their children either succeed or outsucceed them. These parents want to be in the limelight and do not want anyone else, including their children, to steal the limelight away from them.
There are narcissistic parents who want to be the only stars in their lives. Reasons for this range from being unloved and neglected to feeling insignificant during their childhoods. The abovementioned mother with the teacher's pet daughter became more competitive with her daughter as the daughter became older. This daughter was quite the stellar student while the father applauded his daughter's academic prowess, the mother was less than pleased. The mother instead of congratulating her daughter, became more critical of the daughter while elevating herself.
Parents, siblings, and other members of the family are often envious of the more successful ones in their family unit because secretly they wish they are the successful ones instead of the family member. The successful family member is also viewed as a threat to the family culture and consensus. The other family members figure that they are at their particular level of success;however, one or other family members elect to venture outside the said family paradigm to establish their own success whether it is academic and/or career success. Subconsciously, this family member reminds the other family members what they could achieve if they have been more venturous and not have a limited life paradigm.
In summation, family members often envy each other, especially if the family member achieves more success than they do. Many families have a paradigm which is limited regarding what can be attained and achieved. This is an unspoken paradigm among families which must be adhered to. However, there are family members who elect to ignore such paradigms much to the dismay of other family members.
Still there are other factors besides socioeconomic which family members envy each other. A family member who receives more love and encouragement may be envied by another family member who did not receive such emotional nurturance in their lives. Then there is the aspect of age which many older members of families envy their younger members for the opportunities they have missed and the issue of their fading youth. Family is a complex thing filled with negative as well as positive aspects.
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on March 27, 2014:
DREAM ON , you are quite welcome indeed. Thank you so much for stopping by and for your response!
DREAM ON on March 27, 2014:
Your hub explains a lot.I am the youngest with three older brothers.All my life I wished and hoped we could all be together doing things. Over the years far and few in between. I thought we all wanted the best for each other and just went our separate ways. We love each other but can't all be in the same room together. Now both our parents gone and I thought we would pull together because that's all we have is each other. Wrong again. One has a problem with drinking and the other one has health issues. The second to the oldest is controlled by his wife. I just want to see each other and call once in a while. When I call it's what do you want not nice to hear from you.I can't believe people search halfway around the world for their missing family and mine is half an hour drive and nobody wants to bother. Life goes on and there are many underlying issues I don't understand. They are all more successful with better jobs and careers so that can't be the problem. I just continue to live my life and dream for better days.Thank you for your in depth hub dealing with so many factors I never did consider.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on March 09, 2014:
Excellent commentary, Unknown, what you have stated is so succinct. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the discussion!
Unknown Ink on March 09, 2014:
Bravo gmwilliams! This hub is absolutely beyond words I think it is easy to say that you have hit the bull's eye with this one.
One would assume that family depicts that nurturing household where love blossoms and everyone grows up to be successful, well meaning individuals. However that is such a dire contrast from the truth.
I think that while these 'envious relatives' makes the immediate lives of people around them or their 'target' difficult; they also unintentionally end up molding their target in a particular fashion. Taking your example quoted in the hub; while the mother would always try to outshine the daughter; the daughter would still always attempt to seek her mother's approval; trying to ace everything; attempting to be a better person. In a strange and twisted way; the envious mother is a motivational drive for the daughter and though the relationship would be scarring; the daughter would benefit from it somehow while the mother would continue her ways.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on January 25, 2014:
Tracy, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Please read my articles on the large family, particularly the one which cites how large families are unfair to the oldest children. Oldest children in large families(6 or more children per household) have it the hardest. They MUST assume responsibilities in early childhood while the youngest children oftentimes have very little or no responsibilities. Many oldest children have to discontinue their education while the youngest children are freer to pursue theirs. In large families, it is the younger children who have it THE BEST! Please read my articles on the oldest children in large families and you will see how hard they have it-THEY HAVE NO CHILDHOOD while YOUNGEST CHILDREN in large families have normative childhoods and adolescence.
Tracy on January 25, 2014:
I so relate to your story. I come from a large family and the oldest have always been jealous of the youngest. I have noticed that with the same sex they have always tried to compete with each other. The oldest female in my family was not always so jealous of the other sisters until they became more successful than her. It is just a sick and twisted situation.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on December 28, 2013:
Ah huh, don't you know it Express10. These same people who hate their more successful relatives ALWAYS have THEIR hands OUT. They expect to LIVE a SUCCESSFUL life with the relative's help. I wrote this hub because it IS SO TRUE, there are family members who are haters, negaters, and otherwise toxic. Time to CUT THEM OFF! That is why the LARGER the family, the MORE PROBLEMS, you are actually saddled with such people. Oftentimes, friends are MUCH better than family. That is why more successful family members CUT OFF ALL TIES with the less successful members! Who needs the BAGGAGE!
H C Palting from East Coast on December 28, 2013:
I know someone very well who has been mistreated by their family all their life due the fact that they are outgoing and successful while everyone else in the family is close minded and ill educated. The actually verbally abuse the successful relative rather than congratulate or give any praise. Yet, these same people love to beg them for money! I agree with Mary, your 1st commenter, you have unfortunately described a large number of families. This is a very interesting subject and a good hub.
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on December 18, 2013:
Immene thanks for stopping by and contributing. Two of my aunts were envious of me because I was middle class and had the opportuities they did not have. They were poor, become pregnant at teens and were consigned to lower end jobs. They were very bitter to say the least.
Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on December 18, 2013:
When I was Director of Human Resources, I initiated the EAP program which I thought I didn't need. Long story short, this wonderful counselor made me understand my family dynamic. I didn't understand why my cousins didn't care for me and all the in-fighting and then she outlined how I was the favorite of my Grandfather and his actions actually caused this reaction. Later on, when I was teaching group fitness, I tried to convey this new found wisdom with the mantra of no favorite children when switching sides from left to right and from front to back. We are never taught about family dynamics and how to properly interact with those we must live with and these family dynamics play such a vital role in our self esteem and our lifelong achievements. Great hub. Voted up! Thank you for sharing! God bless you and your family!
Grace Marguerite Williams (author) from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on September 12, 2013:
Thank you so much for your encouraging and eloquent response.
CarolineVABC from Castaic on September 12, 2013:
Wow, what can I say? This is such a very detailed and thought provoking hub! I belong to a large family, and yes, sibling rivalry/enviousness do play along to a certain degree. I would admit that I am envious of some of my siblings' successes (material/career wise/talent/beauty and so forth), but I have learned to accept them. Also, I support their successes because I am comfortable in my own skin. I try not to compare myself with anyone. I compete and strive to be a better person-not for anyone, but for the glory of the Lord. Of course, I do feel good when I reach my own goals, as well!
I do agree with the reasons enlisted on this article. You are right on the money, gmwilliams! Thanks for sharing and keep up the excellent work. God bless!
mary on June 25, 2013:
You describe the majority of families!