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Favoring The Abusive One:
Indecisive GoldfishMy character Niccolo has an uncle, Beni, who showers him with love and a father, Cosimo, who abuses him emotionally, but he always sides with his father and "Well Done, Son!" Guy pretty much eats his life. I'm not sure if this comes off as odd. Beni, while being a man who adopts stray cats and gives candy (usually giant lollipops) to children, funds that by being a Mafia Underboss. Niccolo knows that since his father is the Boss. Though there isn't much proof that Beni would do ill to Niccolo as a child (Beni has no problem hurting adults). Though Cosimo might just be incredibly clueless about parenting rather than actively out to get Niccolo because Cosimo's character history is peppered by getting homicidally-angry over violence committed or threatened against his family, including Niccolo. But Niccolo generally acts afraid of his father and is incredibly upset if his dad comes even close to being criticizing him. And it doesn't help that Cosimo will criticize Niccolo for things that aren't entirely his fault to start with. And Niccolo sometimes connects what looks like a petty offense with resulting in murder since he knows his dad is a criminal, but Cosimo doesn't show Niccolo everything he does. Niccolo rationalizes why he likes his father despite his father's lousy treatment of him. He expresses that he wants to be like his father in terms of everyone being terrified of or respecting his mobster power. And since he worries so hard about what his father thinks of him, he might be afraid that caring for his uncle means his father would like him less. Cosimo and Beni don't get along beyond basic decency at best. Does that make sense?
HappinessAt first, I thought it was some variation on Stockholm Syndrome, but that's definitely not the case. If Niccolo was raised in a type of environment where he learned and knew social Darwinism early, that could be used to justify him respecting rather than outright loving his dad in any way. As you mentioned, the kid aspires to be like his dad to a degree. It sort of does make a little sense. Sort of.
Ahr riverMy relationship with my brother actually has some similarities. My younger siter will frequently insult him, hit him and in general berate him, but my brother loves her. I, on the other hand, merely need to speak and he will EXPLODE with rage. Why? Because despite my sister being prissy, and me being me, personality wise, we just don't mix. He gets personally offended. I like to debate. Shitstorm ensues. So, the way I see it, the loving guy and the protag might be nice people, but that does not mean they need to get along.
Well, I could easily see it happening a couple of ways: a) since his Dad's (presumably) more constant in his life, he might side with his Dad for his own safety - after uncle leaves, Dad might get revenge or something b) he may think he's as worthless as his Dad considers him to be, so he takes his uncle's niceness as a sign that he's either stupid or being manipulative c) since his Dad so rarely expresses approval, the few times when he does express approval become much more meaningful to him ('I must have done well, because even Dad was impressed') d) his Dad may have told him bad things about the uncle, which he believes are true
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
Stayin' AliveEh, I kinda get it, I think. I'm used to my quiet introverted family, and when someone is suddenly all smiles and gushing and giving me stuff, it comes off as really, really disturbing to me. Like they expect something from me, but I don't know what. It tended to get a bit overwhelming when I was younger, and I really didn't like people like that at all. I got a bit better about it when I got older, but its still a bit unsettling for me to deal with. It seems like it might be a similar situation here.
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