The Tattletale Vs. The Rebel: When Sibling Rivalry Doesn’t Come to an End

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Who hasn’t felt threatened by their sibling before? Okay, only children are out on this one because really – you don’t know what it’s like for your parents to suddenly bring a new kid home from the hospital, or as we seen it at the time – our competition. For those who say they never felt jealous of their sibling, younger or older, they’re lying. We’ve all been there but does that exist in adulthood? I think it does, but instead of pouting about it, we just don’t talk about it as much. Ironically enough though, I was talking to a relative the other day and we both felt inferior to our younger counterparts due to their steady employment. Here I am a college graduate, and my GED holding brother is making more than me a month. Of course that is a reason to feel slightly jealous, but am I  seeking vengeance for it? No, this isn’t like when we were young and he came into the picture and suddenly made me the dreaded middle child.

Growing up sibling rivalry stems from a handful of places as noted in Elizabeth Connelly’s Sibling Rivalry: Relational Problems Involving Brothers and Sisters. She explains that “as children develop, their parents generally represent authority and power. Siblings, in contrast, provide a child’s first introduction to social parameters – how to fit in as well as how to stand up for oneself.” Again, they are our initial lesson in competition. How we handle competition with our brothers and sisters will very well shape how we go on to face others as we get older. That’s not all though, Connelly also notes the obvious point in that parents and their favoritism towards one child over another can cause a riff between siblings as well as when one child is sick or disabled and gets all the attention causing jealousy in the other(s). She also goes to the far side of the spectrum to point out the death of one child may leave parents to ignore the living, as well as incest which leads to a sense of guilt. I wasn’t quite sure where she was going with that.

However, I do think she was onto something when she talked about the initial point made, the idea that siblings are our first look at competition. Some people grow out of this and go on to have these breathtaking relationships with their sisters and brothers. Look at Cindy and Cora. They rarely even talked as kids but now are the best of friends that could inspire a Lifetime movie set around the holidays. Sadly though, it doesn’t always work out. That rivalry for attention and to be the best does play a part in some relationships as the kids go through their teenage years and into adulthood and what that often does is put a strain on their overall relationship. Plus, parents who continue to be obvious with their favorites when their kids are grown…they are not helping their kids in any way.

Rivalry is innate with siblings and it stems from various aspects of our upbringing but most of the time we outgrow it. Those who do can look back now and see that fighting over mom’s love wasn’t worth it at the time, but those who haven’t – they are still trying to outdo one another when it comes to Mother’s Day gifts.

The Highs and Lows of Sibling Rivalry

  1. According to About, if you’re dealing with sibling rivalry as an adult – you shouldn’t take it personally and find support elsewhere.
  2. 83% of you surveyed though don’t need to do that because you said you don’t have any sort of rivalry with your siblings today.
  3. Most seemed to grow out of it since 67% said there was definitely a rivalry growing up.
  4. 17% of you agreed that the biggest high of sibling rivalry as an adult is your parents acknowledging your success over theirs as well as just winning at life over them, while almost 70% of you said there’s nothing great about it.
  5. On the other side of the story, the biggest low of it – 67% surveyed said the competition it creates just plain sucks.

Now that we’ve talked a little about this week’s topic, we’re going forward. We’ll talk to a pair of sisters that you’d think would compete since they’re in the same field – but don’t, look at what it’s like to be the Lisa between two Barts, get into a CW favorite (as least for me) and round it all out with 10 ways to put an end to that rivalry if you’re dealing with it.

 

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