“It’s not fair! Mom always lets you do everything. She loves you best!” If this sounds like a common refrain from your childhood, you’re not alone. No matter how many kids in your family or how impartial your parents tried to be, studies show that more than 50 percent of parents show a preference toward one child.
And even though it might not be acknowledged within your family, these parental expectations of how one sibling will behave over another can cause fighting and bickering among siblings that lasts into adulthood. But if you’re tired of arguing with your sisters or brothers, you can learn to get past old rivalries and roles and grow closer to your whole family.
WHY SIBLINGS FIGHT
Here are some reasons why adults siblings continue to fight and disagree:
Favoritism is the most common reason children fight as they seek their parents’ love and approval.
If one child is spoiled and the other picked on by Mom and Dad, the kids will inevitably bicker.
One sibling thinks the same way as a parent or shares the same interests.
As siblings grow up and families experience key life events including marriage, divorce, new careers, having children, and the illness or death of parents, new sibling rivalries may arise.
When one sibling marries, the other may feel as though a special bond is dissolving.
An older sibling might be jealous if his or her younger brother or sister marries first.
Siblings may not feel that the spouses their family members choose are good enough.
In studies of young and middle-adult siblings, those interviewed said the marriage of their brothers and sisters drove a wedge between them.
TIPS ON BECOMING FRIENDS WITH YOUR SIBLINGS
If you’re ready to work on becoming closer to your adult siblings, psychologists say that’s a good thing. Even as our lives change and evolve, our siblings are constants in our lives, and since they have known us since childhood, they share a history and understanding of our families that no spouses or friends can duplicate. When old rivalries are forgiven or forgotten, we feel more connected. To stop bickering with siblings, try these tips:
SIBLING RIVALRY TIP #1: Don’t compare your spouse in terms of looks, occupation, and other qualities to your sibling’s spouse. Develop your own measure of success and focus on that rather than compete with siblings. Don’t compete over the number of children each of you has or the kids’ accomplishments.
SIBLING RIVALRY TIP #2: If you have to care for aging parents, work to break free of old roles (Mom or Dad’s “favorite.”) Work together with your brothers and sisters to share the responsibilities.
SIBLING RIVALRY TIP #3: Find other support in your life. Your friends can provide love, acceptance, and approval that you may not have gotten from your parents or siblings.
SIBLING RIVALRY TIP #4: Keep lines of communication open. Don’t be too proud or hurt to contact your siblings. Clear up misunderstandings rather than hanging on to a grudge.
SIBLING RIVALRY TIP #5: Schedule and attend family gatherings and work to be there for brothers and sisters during good times and bad.
Even if you only see your grown siblings once a year, if you can let go of old resentments and patterns you’ll find that you may have a great old “new” friend in that older or younger sister or brother.
Article Written By: Julie Mitchell; Julie is an accomplished writer from San Francisco who loves ballet, yoga, walking, cooking and reading. Her experience as a wife and mother of two lend to her articles and blogs for DivaVillage.com and VillageMAMA.com in the areas of wellness, fitness, beauty, parenting and food.