Family jealousy

Jealousy: What is family jealousy?

Jealousy in the family can be considered as the emotional reaction that appears when a member of the family feels a sense of loss towards another relative who “considered his”.

The most frequent class of jealousy is those that appear when an individual has a suspicion or concern about the possibility that the loved subject is paying more attention to a third person.

We can firmly affirm that jealousy is a universal feeling, which appears in all cultures. It occurs in both men and women, children and adults. When this jealousy, which we could call normal, increases in intensity, it can cause a serious problem for the person who suffers from it. In serious cases we speak of pathological jealousy or celotype.

In this article we are going to stick to the family environment. We are going to analyze the jealousy reactions that can appear at different evolutionary moments in families. First of all we are going to talk about  the jealousy that appears with the arrival of a new member. We  will see how they can appear  from the moment the “happy news” of the mother’s pregnancy is known.

Jealousy is very common in the family

Jealousy in the family during pregnancy.

Jealousy in the family during pregnancy.

A family can be very happy until the arrival of a child, even before the birth occurs. Jealousy towards him can cloud family life. How can we deal with a problem as delicate as this?

From childhood, each one is taught that jealousy is not good and that it is an emotion to avoid. However, they are probably the most common response to the changing situations that appear in our lives.

Some kinds of jealousy are very easy to identify, such as envy of our neighbor’s job or salary. But at other times, the individual cannot understand that jealousy is the emotion that is disturbing and making him unhappy.

The birth of a new baby can be one of these situations that worries and upsets some of the family members.

The first  pregnancy  of a married couple or of a couple can produce significant changes in your personal relationships. No matter how dear the pregnancy is, even if they have thought of the child and mutually wished for it, it may not be easy to learn to live with three people instead of two.

When the father is jealous during pregnancy.

Some men have feelings of  jealousy in the family  when they see their wife increase in size with pregnancy. Sometimes the man envies the creativity of the woman, the fact that she may be able to have a child in her womb.

You may find it unpleasant the way the child gets more and more of his partner’s body and at the same time takes hold of her thoughts with increasing intensity, leaving him on the sidelines and making him feel like a stranger.

At other times, the situation is balanced and many men enjoy seeing their pregnant wife, are proud of the result that demonstrates their virility and, at times, can enjoy with their partner the serenity and charm that pregnancy often brings.

The father may feel jealous at the end of the pregnancy

Jealousy at the end of pregnancy.

Jealousy at the end of pregnancy.

In the later stages of pregnancy this situation can change. Some men think that a woman’s body is deformed and ugly. Many women do not want to have sex because they are considered unwanted and feel unattractive.

This absence of sexual desire in women will take away spontaneity when making love. It can also increase the jealousy that the father feels towards the baby. This will always be the culprit of the situation. The baby has not yet been born and it already affects your feelings… and your sex life!

Sex can often be difficult because they are unsure of how to have intercourse during pregnancy. Many couples need the assurance that they can have sex at this point in their pregnancy. They need to know that these relationships are natural. Only in very rare cases are they devoid of risk.

Talking about jealousy is never easy, but if the couple tries to do it frankly and sincerely, the accumulated tension can be considerably reduced. These conversations also give the opportunity to examine how they can more easily develop their sexual relations in the last weeks of gestation.

Like men, women can also feel trapped by  jealousy in the family . Women often envy pregnant women, and it is not uncommon for a grandmother to envy the fertility of her daughter or daughter-in-law, especially if when she was younger she enjoyed the experience of being a mother.

In these cases,  jealousy in the family  is mixed with the joy of the newcomer to the family.

Jealousy is deeply experienced after childbirth

Jealousy in the family after childbirth.

Jealousy in the family after childbirth.

During pregnancy, many couples refuse to acknowledge that the child on the way has altered their lives. After delivery and  when the baby is home , it is impossible to ignore the effect that its presence has on the relationship between the parents. This is a stage in which  jealousy in the family is often more deeply experienced.

The father may be jealous.

The mother is continually dedicated to the care of the baby.  When she is free from homework, she is often exhausted and lacks sleep and time to herself. If it has been the first child, there is also a maternal anxiety that can be devastating:

You have to check every moment if the child is “perfectly fine.” All the cares seem insufficient to him. You can become a fanatic about cleanliness in relation to the baby.

It is not strange that  the father feels ignored and marginalized no matter how  much he tries to understand the situation with his best will.

Some feelings of envy can be very childish. For example, the jealousy of the father when “his wife” breastfeeds the baby. You may feel that he has an exclusive property right over your breasts, which the child has stolen.

The baby is rocked and cradled close to the mother’s breast, and the father wishes he were in that situation.

The mother may be jealous.

In the same way,  the woman can feel jealousy in the family for the freedom of the man .

He continues to have contacts with the outside world. He goes out every morning to spend the day in the company of other adults. Meanwhile,  she finds herself “locked in” with the endless routine of caring for the child.

Most couples discover that  the birth of a child brings many new joys , especially if they have been shared by both of them since the beginning of pregnancy.

When both have been involved in childbirth, it is much easier for the father to feel that the child also belongs to him: The baby is also his. This means that you will also enjoy sharing the tasks of bathing and feeding the baby with your wife.

Some men do not want to be present at the birth and that wish of yours must be respected. Nothing is gained by forcing them, especially if they see childbirth as a punishment that their partner has to go through, instead of considering it as an experience to be shared between the two.

Sometimes,  although the father and mother try to share the child, problems arise . The mother will probably appreciate the help of the father. You will be relieved to share responsibility for the child with him. But sometimes your feelings are not so clear. Especially if you notice that he, in caring for the child, is as effective as she.

The strong and large masculine presence can give reassurance and security to an angry or restless baby. This gives the parent a sense of efficacy. However, the mother will feel insecure about her ability to care for the child. 

It is increasingly common for the father to take care of the baby

Changing roles in the family.

Traditional society has established and educated women with a maternal instinct that naturally prompts them to care for children. But today the roles of the couple are changing rapidly. In many families the woman works and earns a salary and the man carries out the “household chores”.

Today we naturally see that men can take care of children with efficiency, patience and affection.

This attitude gives parents greater freedom in the roles they play in their marriage. It can sometimes cause confusion and insecurity in some women. “If he is able to do ‘my job’ better than me, then what is left for me?”

In certain cases, the couple decides that the man will stay home with the child. Meanwhile, the woman continues her professional career. This experience can and does work for many couples. Sometimes it can happen that when the baby grows up and meets other families he experiences some confusion about the roles of men and women.

Yet this situation is so relatively new that it is difficult to estimate its effect on children. You may not have any. I particularly believe that children naturally live this exchange of roles.

Learning to live with a third person is possibly one of the most difficult challenges for any marriage.  Still, most couples solve this problem and adapt their relationships to the presence of the child.

Everything is easier when relationships are intense and bonds of trust and participation have been established.

You can give up “being alone and together” and take care of a third person, without causing additional problems.

The first child can cause jealousy in the family

Other types of jealousy that appear in the family.

So far we have talked about the jealousy that can arise both during pregnancy and after childbirth. This jealousy can affect both the father and the mother. Now we will look at some other situations:

  • The jealousy of the parents when the son leaves the house.
  • Paternal jealousy when one of the parents is very dominant and possessive.
  • The most frequent case: The jealousy of the siblings with the newborn.

Jealousy in parents when children leave home.

Some parents start to feel jealous of their children when they grow up. It usually happens when the son or daughter leaves home to start their own life.  Many parents envy the opportunities their child has:

  • For example the luck of staying in school or going to university.
  • You can imagine your child doing things that they never did and wish they had done.
  • Many parents think about the “crazy life” their children lead. They become obsessed with traveling to other countries with the “Erasmus” plan.
  • They may envy jobs in some attractive or exotic foreign country.

At this stage,  jealousy can seriously affect the child and his relationship with the parents.

Parents can become jealous of their children

Family jealousy with very dominant parents.

This situation can affect both the father and the mother. In general, it is usually produced in a crossed way. The dominant father is jealous of “his girl.” The dominant and possessive mother does not let “her little one” live in peace.Javier’s case.

We all know cases where this situation appears with greater or lesser intensity. To better illustrate the type of relationship,  let’s look at the case of Javier , an adopted boy. Her mother desperately wanted a baby, but had to give up after multiple attempts using the most modern techniques. In the end she convinced her husband to adopt. The desire for her son was such that she demanded total love from Javier. Javier found it almost impossible to submit to his mother’s demands. Actually, so many demands had the opposite effect: they almost repelled him.

Javier was a brilliant high school student and went off to college. This was a serious setback for the mother. To express her “joy”, she only managed to say ” Now I have lost him forever .” Later, Javier married, and his mother became very jealous of the relationships between her son and his in-laws. It must be said that these relationships were completely normal. The mother’s complaints increased over the years and she spoke of her old age and her many ailments. He was continually saying, “ Old, sick and lonely.  This is how we are going to see each other. My son, you will have to come to care. ”

In Javier’s situation or in other similar situations,  the constant demands of parents so that their “children” love them and are always at their orders, give rise to a relationship loaded with tension and feelings of guilt.  Probably the worst of all this, is that when the parents are really ill, the first reaction of the children is to run away. Nursing homes are full of lonely mothers and fathers whose excessive demands and desire for domination frustrated their children.

Authoritarian parents can develop jealousy.

Jealousy and rivalry between siblings.

Jealousy and rivalry between siblings.

When the pregnancy is not the first and there are already children in the family, we must prepare for a great challenge: jealousy and rivalry between siblings . With pregnancy confirmation,  preparing a child for the arrival of a new baby brother can be crucial to their future relationships. It is very important to let children know that they will not lose the care and affection of their parents, that the new baby will not replace them.  If they are old enough, a year or more, they should be informed about the arrival of the baby, preferably early in the pregnancy. 

It is very helpful to  involve the siblings in the evolution of the pregnancy. It is good to let them feel the movements of the future baby inside the mother’s womb. More and more doctors allow children to listen to the heartbeat of their little brother in their consultations. Siblings are more than likely to feel a certain helplessness and receive less care and attention in the rush that surrounds the time of delivery. The mother will be away from the hospital, at least for a few days, and when she returns she has a formidable task: a new child to care for.

It is important at this stage that children begin to assume their own relationship with the baby. Older siblings need to feel that they play an important role in caring for the new child.  Encouraging them to talk and touch the baby is helpful, and it is an excellent idea to get the older sibling involved and help bathe the little one, sprinkle powder, or apply ointment.

Jealousy between siblings is as old as humanity

How you can act to avoid jealousy.

This intervention of children in the life of the baby is very important. In addition,  siblings also need to spend some time alone with their parents.  Reading a story to the older brother while the baby is asleep. Play one parent with the eldest while the other is caring for the baby. These activities can help reduce the jealousy that children feel. Nor should you despair if it is impossible to eliminate them completely.  Jealousy is only a problem when it is out of your control. If feelings of envy are balanced and taken into account by parents as soon as the first signs appear, they can be adequately controlled and healthy relationships can develop between parents and children and between the same siblings. 

Jealousy is a very destructive emotion and can poison any relationship if it is not taken into account.  If the father and mother are aware of the children and understand that each of them has a role to play, jealousy may never arise. It is very important for both children and parents to  understand that each member of the family can have a good relationship, often differently, with the new baby and still have a healthy relationship with each other at the same time.

Request specialized help.

Achieving these goals is often not easy. Some couples despair and understand that they cannot solve these problems on their own. In these cases,  resorting to the specialized help of a psychologist can be decisive in minimizing the problems. Jealousy can become a permanent part of family relationships, but  if the person who suffers it understands why they are jealous and what makes them feel jealous, they will be able to cope better with everyday life and life can be much happier for them. everybody.  Examining and understanding the nature of your problems can help to reduce and minimize feelings of jealousy, to find ways to treat them appropriately, and to give new impetus to family relationships.


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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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