I am the oldest of three sisters. That’s why I was brought up with strict discipline…. The treatment my sisters have received has been different. They’ve done things I never did…. things that bother me because, if I had done those things, I would have been beaten, insulted, and run out of the house. I know that it’s wrong for me to hold a grudge against my parents. Every time I open my mouth during an argument with them, I say hurtful things that I’m sorry about later. I really do know that I’m too proud to ask for forgiveness.

Dear Friend,

We are very sorry for your family situation, but the truth is that you are hurting yourself as much as others have hurt you. You have so much anger and bitterness that those emotions come pouring out of your mouth, even when you intend to keep them under control. Unfortunately, when you keep those negative emotions bottled up inside, they are toxic. They can make you physically and emotionally sick. You need the help of a professional to deal with your dangerous emotions. We recommend that you find a counselor, psychologist, or even an anger management group. This is too big for you to be able to handle by yourself.

You are right that your parents treated you differently because you are the oldest. That is the way it happens in most families. The lessons that the parents learn from how they deal with their oldest child cause them to treat the younger ones differently. It is just the way that birth order usually works. That doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean that parents always discipline wisely. Most likely, if you research the subject of birth order, you will learn that your parents were not unusual.

Your last statement is very troubling. You say that you are too proud to ask for forgiveness. We don’t believe that pride is the reason you won’t apologize. The reason is that you believe your parents should instead apologize to you for having disciplined you more harshly than your sisters. To apologize to them would be to give up your right to hold on to that anger and bitterness. And you don’t want to do that because you are convinced that it is your right to be angry and bitter. Sadly, you have become so familiar with those dangerous emotions that it is as if they were your friends.

The Apostle Paul taught that we should “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger.”(1) Those emotions can be normal to feel in certain situations, but when you choose to hold on to them like friends, you are hurting yourself and sinning against God. Make the choice to give up your right to be angry and bitter, and then ask God to forgive you. He is a loving Father who is waiting to forgive you and help you have a better life.

We wish you the best,

1 Eph 4:31