I have never personally experienced sibling rivalry because there was such a huge age gap between me and the brother born before me. I was labeled a “brat” early on, but I think that nickname/insult stemmed from growing up in a house full of adults (and I use that term loosely) and gaining a precociousness and a vocabulary well beyond my years at a very early age. However, not being an expert on any given topic has never stopped me from expressing my opinion before, so why be shy now?
I do have many friends that have either been the object of sib-riv or actively point-and-shoot poison darts filled with sib-riv venom at their own siblings on a daily basis. I see one common thread in all of their relationships…poor parenting skills.
The main ingredient in any sib-riv case is jealousy. What fuels jealousy is a person’s own sense of self and how they’re perceived by their parents at an early age. If your self esteem is lacking and you’re unenlightened, then you look for someone else to blame. A sibling is fair game, especially when the object of your desire is the love and attention of your parent.
I have to tell you, if you’re in that mode, take a step backward, because it has always been my experience that the sibling that is the object of your jealousy most likely has no idea you feel that way.
My advice would be to sit them down and share your feelings. “I dislike you because Mom has always loved you better.” Getting that kind of poison out of your system will make it easier for you to move away from it. Your sibling might even surprise you by offering you support and understanding.
Another good reason for expressing these feelings is understanding where they come from and how they started. You might be surprised to finally figure out that your own feelings of self worth have been manipulated by a parent seeking to be the center of attention. Do you know how to get one of your kids to pay attention to you? Pay attention to one kid and ignore the other one. That other kid will do cartwheels to get your attention and instead of disliking you for being deceitful, they’ll learn to dislike their sibling instead because no one ever wants to dislike their own parents.
Then you can imagine me whispering in your ear “Shame on you!”
I can’t think of a single episode of sib-riv that doesn’t lead back to the parents. Can you?
If you’re out there parenting more than one child then my hat is off to you because it’s the hardest job in the world. My friend Krissy has three little ones. At one time they were all under the age of 5 at the same time and I knew she was busting her ass to raise great kids. Krissy makes an effort to treat all of her children with respect and she never plays favorites and because of that they are well-rounded, happy little babies that all love each other.
Krissy is a great mom.
Try to always keep in mind that each of your children are sentient beings, they are not property. They have minds and hearts and feelings very unique only to them. Socialize them at an early age and resist the temptation to insure that you’ll be the end-all, be-all in their lives. You will always be the biggest in their hearts because you’re their parent.
Never play one of your children against the other because you’ll be breeding a heartache that never goes away. That child will carry that pain into their adult lives and deal with it in ways that are unhealthy and disturbing. It will affect every relationship they ever have. They will never feel “good enough” unless they start taking a look inside to figure out where the pain started and how to fix it.
Trust me, once that child figures out that all roads lead back to you, then you’ll really be the center of attention and not in a good way.
The pay-off for nipping sib-riv in the butt is a lifelong friend that loves you unconditionally, like a brother or a sister. How good does that feel?
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