I am the mother of a smart, beautiful, kind 15 year old whom I love very much. But in recent years, a pit of jealousy has sprung up over how talented and popular my daughter has become. I’ve felt little more than average for much of my life. I’m not ugly, but I’m not pretty. I’m not stupid – but I’m not what you would consider intelligent. I have a few good friends, but popular is never a word anyone would use to describe me.
My daughter, on the other hand, is spectacular. She has a huge group of friends, all of whom spend time with her, she is one of the top performers in her class, and she has a confidence that most adults can only dream of.
I should be proud of all this, I know I should. But instead I’ve come to resent her—despise her even. And I find myself trying to put her down at every opportunity. I know how silly this sounds. A grown woman jealous of a 15-year-old is crazy enough, but her own daughter? But I can’t help but think to myself, “What does she have that I don’t?”
Dear Jane, my daughter is prettier than me and smarter than me – and I hate her for it. Now my jealousy threatens to destroy our relationship
It feels like she’s starting to pick up on these feelings and push me away. I can’t stand the idea that our relationship could be destroyed because of my jealousy, but I don’t know how to stop.
Please help before I lose my daughter.
Van, Green with envy
Dear Green with envy,
Jealousy is a pretty monstrous emotional response to anything, especially when it comes to the myriad ways your extraordinary child is thriving. That you’ve noticed these dastardly feelings rising within you and wanting to change is a hugely helpful realization to have.
With consciousness we have choice. And your choice now is whether or not to take conscious and deliberate corrective and restorative action. As you know, the stakes are high, and failure to make real changes is likely to have serious consequences for you, for your daughter, and for the health of any future relationship you hope to have.
As much as you think you’ve hidden your jealousy, it seems pretty obvious that your daughter already feels it and is protecting herself the only way she knows how – by pushing you away.
International best-selling author offers sage advice on the most burning issues of DailyMail.com readers in her weekly column Dear Jane agony aunt
Acknowledging that your jealousy is a negative emotional reaction to your daughter’s successes and the damage you’re doing is a great start.
First, it’s helpful to understand what jealousy is: it’s a form of anger or resentment toward someone for having something you don’t have but want. Next, it is helpful to understand the root causes of jealousy. It probably won’t surprise you that this negative emotional reaction usually stems from low self-esteem. The solutions to calm those feelings are simple, but rarely straightforward. Your job is to take action to build your self-esteem. And with that, it will be very helpful for you to develop a gratitude practice.
I don’t know the circumstances of your childhood, but from the way you describe yourself – not beautiful, not intelligent, not popular – I suspect that you were not appreciated, loved, or praised by the most important people in your life. My heart aches for you, and I’m sorry you went through the traumas you went through. Finding compassion for yourself will go a long way toward healing you. Your daughter’s bloom is in many ways the result of all you have given her. Now you need to shift your focus to loving, supporting and encouraging yourself.
A popular technique of cognitive behavioral therapy is developing an abundance mindset. Focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. You may not have the confidence that your daughter has, but look at what you do have that brings you joy. Use your daughter as a teacher and role model; instead of being jealous, get curious. See if you can learn something from her.
Put your energy into your own friendships and you’ll be amazed at how much better they’ll get – and how much more you’ll find. Pursue interests and take classes that give you a sense of accomplishment. And every day take stock of the abundance of good things in your life, big and small, to be thankful and grateful for.
It may take a while, but following these steps will not only help you banish the green-eyed monster from your home, but also make your life much more fulfilling and peaceful.
My husband and I have been married for six years – and before that we dated for two years. During our relationship he has had a cat whom he loves almost as much as I do. When we first met I wasn’t the cat’s biggest fan, but over the years I’ve come to love him almost as much as my husband.
But last week, while my husband was out of town for work, something terrible happened. I was in a hurry to get out the door for work and must have left the porch door open because Janie stepped out. I didn’t realize this until I backed out of the driveway and felt a bump. I jumped out of the car to see what hit me, thinking it was a fallen branch or even a squirrel. And there was Johnny.
I was absolutely devastated. And then panic set in. What would my husband think of me? For whatever reason, at that point I decided it was best to bury Janie and figure out what to tell my husband later. When he came home the next day, he immediately hurried to find her and was terrified when he couldn’t, asking where she was and what had happened.
The next thing I know I tell him I have no idea, that she must have slipped out when he came in with his suitcase, and that she was definitely just in the backyard.
It’s been almost a week now and I’m so caught up in this lie I don’t think I can ever tell him what really happened. I helped him put up missing posters and called local shelters knowing it was a totally hopeless search.
Is this a secret I should take to my grave?
Van, Feline shocked,
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, if we first practice to deceive!”
Sir Walter Scott hit the proverbial nail on the head. It’s a bit of a fine old mess you’ve thrown yourself into and, as I see it, you’re damned if you do, and maybe even more damned if you don’t.
Getting it off your chest and telling him the truth can do significant damage to your relationship. However, if you keep it to yourself there is also a significant price to pay as you live with the weight of a secret and those burdens have a nasty habit of getting heavier and heavier leading to nothing good or healthy.
The truth is that everyone has lied at some point. Whether it’s a little white lie or a big mess that is then put together, the truth is that we are all human and all lie at some point in our lives. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that often entails costs.
Dear Jane’s Sunday Service
Life is much easier when we practice what some call rigorous honesty.
This is not only about being truthful, but about taking responsibility for the mistakes we make or the ways we hurt others, about living with integrity and being honest with ourselves and others.
An honest life is authentic, and the more we practice it, the better our relationships become.
In this tragic case, hitting your husband’s beloved cat was a terrible accident. And lying to cover up what really happened is an understandable – if not commendable – panic response under the stress of circumstances.
To restore your integrity and have an authentic relationship with your husband, I think you need to be honest and brace yourself for the consequences. Tell him personally. (You may want to have a trusted friend on standby in case you need support with the fallout.) Start by saying you need to tell him something and that you’re aware that it will impact your relationship. Explain that you can only live with yourself if you are honest.
By then, he’ll no doubt know it has something to do with Janie. Tell him the truth. He will no doubt be upset by what you share and may need some space to process it.
Let him respond in any way you can, and reassure him that you are committed to your marriage and working to restore his trust, then give him time to process. If you need comfort, turn to a friend. I hope this isn’t the end of your relationship, but I have a hard time seeing your marriage blossom when there’s a giant lie in the middle of it.
The truth will set you free no matter how hard it is and no matter what your husband decides. All I know is that this was a horrible accident, you didn’t mean to do this, and – hopefully – take a breath, do things differently in the future and get through this mess with a stronger relationship than ever before. for.
Jane’s Sunday Service: Life is much easier when we practice what some call rigorous honesty. This is not only about being truthful, but about taking responsibility for the mistakes we make or the ways we hurt others, about living with integrity and being honest with ourselves and others. An honest life is authentic, and the more we practice it, the better our relationships become.