5 steps to balancing fame within a family

Anna Maria and Robert Tremonti wash their parents' car.

Siblings share memories unique to their relationship, starting at the birth of the younger one. How this relationship matures depends upon the effort made to keep the relationship in balance.

By Faye Bayko

In this Age of the Internet it’s hard not to know all the intimate details of a famous person’s life. So, how do the families of those used to having the limelight shone on them 24/7 cope, especially siblings? Sadly, there have been some extreme cases where the family member has taken their own life, or become estranged.

Family relationships are different than any other relationship we may have in our lifetime. When we enter into a work, friend, or love relationship we know that if it ever becomes unbalanced we can walk away. With family relationships, especially those between siblings, it’s much harder to walk away. There are so many shared experiences, good and bad, built up over time, it’s easy for each sibling’s sense of self to become entangled in the other’s. So, when one is favoured over the other, whether by parents or the world in general, the relationship becomes unbalanced.

Here are the five steps my husband and I used to help him get over the impact his famous sibling has had on his identity and confidence.

Be happy for them

There will be situations where the limelight will be legitimately placed on the famous one. Learn to look at their achievements with an unprejudiced eye and appreciate the hard work that got them there.

Praise them whenever you get a chance, without being gushy. After all, you’re not a groupie, you’re a member of their family.

Be happy for who you are

Start a journal that focuses on you and your achievements. Each day list three things you’re grateful for in your life.

Create a treasure map in the journal that will act as a reminder of who you are and where you want to go with your life.

Rebrand yourself

Instead of identifying yourself as the famous one’s sister, brother, cousin, etc., declare your independence. It’s easy to become lost when you introduce yourself as, “Oh, yes, I am her/his sister/brother/cousin! Do you want me to get you a signed mug/photo?”

Focus on your own career. You’ve worked hard and your achievement(s) have nothing to do with the famous one’s, so take pride in what you’ve accomplished.

Create new business cards for yourself or have a new business portrait done. Even if you don’t need these for work they will remind you of who you are.

STOP referring to your relationship to the famous one at work or during social events! Tell your friends and business associates to stop doing this as well. Remove any pictures of the famous one, or mementos that reference a relationship to them, from your desk or office walls. Soon, you’ll find people treating you with a new respect, as their attention will be focused on you, not who you’re related to.

Take back the dinner table

Often, the famous one will dominate family dinner or event conversations. Whether they do this intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t matter, you need to stop it.

Instead of sitting back and allowing the famous one to hold court, speak up and interject new conversation points. Highlight the achievements of other members of the family and encourage them to tell their story.

This is a difficult process and may take several attempts during the dinner, or over several family events, but the goal is to balance the family interaction. When interactions are one-sided, resentment can build up resulting in angry outbursts or absenteeism.

Be prepared for the push-back

The famous one has grown used to being in the limelight so they may see your efforts at balancing family interaction as a challenge to their right to that limelight. They may push back in what can feel like cruel ways such as saying hurtful or insulting comments that are meant to belittle you personally.

This is where all your positive efforts at self-love will protect you. By understanding who you are and recognizing your own achievements you won’t take their comments personally and eventually, with a bit of persistence, things will settle.

Good luck!

About Author

Faye Bayko
I am a writer and photographer currently working out of Port Alberni, BC.