What is sibling rivalry?

How will Carver react to his new sister Mia? Will Dylan and Geoffrey ever get along? After 71 years, do I harbour some rivalry with my older brothers? Did I ever rival them or vice versa? That’s just my immediate family. There’s bound to be similar questions with the characters in my ever-increasing extended family. It’s a great topic for conversation if everyone would only relax … then let the fists fly!

It all begins during childhood as siblings generally spend more time together than they do with their parents. Think back – were you competitive, always trying to get the best of each other? How did that make you feel – jealous, tense, cocky sometimes, angry at other times? Did you feel animosity because they appeared to be favoured? Did you feel regret at their success?

Did you argue often? How about fighting once in a while? If not, did you punish your siblings with those long periods of “the silent treatment”. Has this turned into years of resentment?

The sibling bond is complicated. Many factors come into play including parental style. As a parent, are you reliving the old childhood experiences you had with your own siblings and parents? The child expert, Selma Fraiberg, calls these inclinations the “ghosts from the nursery”.

Sibling rivalry is totally natural. The extent to which it is problematic and hurtful varies tremendously. It can range from being non-existent, to ever-present resentment, to open confrontation. This series of posts will look at what can be done to deal with these issues and their causes and thereby keep the peace.

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