How do you handle sibling rivalry?
I got a call from a friend one night about 2 months ago. He had had it with his older brother again and was quite hysterical.
He complained of his brother’s unfair treatment of him, with or without provocation and sought my advice on how to handle the issue.
Now I’m no guru, and I admit it startled me a little that he yearned for my advice (seeing as he was at older) but I calmed him down and gave him my two cents.
Just yesterday, I got a call from this friend and he was so pleased and thankful. He said my advice benefited him tremendously and presently he is at peace and no longer at loggerheads with his brother.
I was delighted for him and when the call ended, I did a little dance because good news perpetually makes me cheerful. While dancing, a voice whispered to me to blog about it.
I hesitated midway to be sure I heard correctly and then I heard it again but with extra conviction this time around. And as I mulled over it, it made perfect sense!
If my suggestion helped my buddy, it could be beneficial to many more out there experiencing the same thing.
Are you facing sibling rivalry and are at your wit’s end? Fret no more and keep reading.
What Is Sibling Rivalry?
Sibling rivalry is a type of competition or animosity among siblings, whether blood-related or not. It is a common phenomenon, and as ancient as time.
To thoroughly understand sibling rivalry is to go back to the very inception, where it all started.
If you’re a Christian, you should be familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. These were brothers born of the same parents; the first family on earth.
Cain didn’t warm up to his brother very much and we know how the story ended: jealousy, envy, and hatred set in and Cain killed his brother.
Another case in point was Joseph. He had extraordinary dreams that incensed his brothers and then they sold him off to slavery.
Throughout the course of history, sibling rivalry has been prevalent; it is nothing unusual but inevitable, and unfortunately, won’t stop anytime soon.
I have met and worked for people who experienced sibling rivalry and I learned how they handled it. Learning from them helped me and I’ll share with you in a bit but first, let me share my experience on the subject.
I come from a large family. Growing up, I realized that I had a predilection for being fair. Similarly, I had no favorites. Where children have a beloved parent, I had none. I had no beloved sibling either.
It is quite common in large families for children to gravitate towards other kids; somebody they are tight and comfortable with sharing anything. However, I never had that.
Sure I knew who to go to when I wanted advice on shopping or school assignments or whatever. However, I still had no favorites.
Whatever I had, I offered equally and without preference to one over the other. When there was an altercation, I never punished one more than the other or took sides.
When it looked like my life was on hold and I had nothing going on for me, but a brother or sister shared his/her good fortune, I was glad all the same. There was no jealousy or envy on my part whatsoever.
I thank God every day for this gift. It is the best gift one can have: being at peace with other people’s blessings while hoping and praying for your own; being contented and never envying anyone.
But I observed my siblings didn’t extend that same courtesy to me. Where I gave freely, I didn’t exactly receive when I was in need.
Harsh judgments were passed unfairly on me. I was shouted down, smacked around and made to feel small. On many occasions, I was mistreated in favor of another and sidelined.
At first, when it started, I shook it off (I give the benefit of the doubt a lot) but when it transpired, again and again, I began to pay attention.
Sometimes it hurt – I’m only human – but I never allowed it to drag me down. I’ve always been a bit of a loner and so when the animosity materializes, I just retreat inward or talk to God and the hurt goes away.
Plus, I let go of stuff easily. I do not disregard it but I never let it get a hold of me to the point where I become depressed. Sorry, no one wields that power over me. I alone am in charge of my peace of mind and happiness. It’s the way I’m wired.
But for somebody who isn’t like me, it could be very frustrating. So how do you handle sibling rivalry?
5 Ways To Handle Sibling Rivalry
1. Look inward
I am certain you weren’t anticipating this but this bit is essential. Humans are intrinsically wired to pass the blame on others foremost, rather than looking inward.
Take time out and do some reflection/soul-searching. It is vital to be candid with yourself. Ask questions like: Why am I being dealt with in this manner? Did I do something to deserve this?
In most cases, you may not have done anything to warrant the resentment from your siblings but the fact that you are receptive to look inward and examine yourself first before indicting others shows maturity and a readiness to fix the issue.
2. Talk to the sibling(s) involved
This is a progression of step 1. Sometimes we assume the other person is the problem but we will be astonished to know how greatly we are to blame as well when they explain their side of the story.
Stuff you don’t realize could actually be the problem. It could be your character, body language, facial expressions, manners, the way you talk… Anything could be a catalyst.
Once you are cognizant of these catalysts, you need to give attention to them and determine to rectify them.
3. Pray for them
Yes, you should pray for them. If you aren’t religious/spiritual, this may sound completely bizarre to you. But you need to understand that people aren’t in control of their actions most of the time.
I have beheld cases like this where the parties involved sat down to discuss and the aggressor confessed to the abused that they didn’t want to mistreat them; it wasn’t deliberate but somehow they found themselves perpetrating the abuse.
So you see in that circumstance, there is a force behind their actions. They want to treat you with love but find themselves doing the opposite. Praying for them will heal them and also heal you.
4. Back off
This should only come after you’ve looked inward, tried to talk to the party involved, prayed for them, and yet no improvement.
People can be stubborn, prideful and irrational. Trying to get them to see reason is a lost cause. When you try to express your feelings and tell them how much their actions hurt you, they shut you down or talk over you, rather than listen.
Some actually go overboard and attempt to hurt you because they don’t want to heed the truth. In such a case, the ideal thing to do is to back off and let them be.
5. Give it time
Time is the only unraveler of truth and the healer of traumas. What you are dealing with is ephemeral. Just give it time.
If you live with your siblings, it is only a matter of time until you move out and get your own place.
If there are family gatherings and events where you have to be together, treat them with love and respect but maintain your distance.
Old habits die hard and they may be looking for another chance to hurt you again. If you’re a love being who sees good in everyone regardless of their cruelty, you will fall into their trap.
Give them time, they will come around. Nobody stays resentful forever. Time and age will occur (God-willing) and they will eventually admit to their ill-treatment of you. However, you must be willing to forgive, no matter how hurt you may feel.
I hope these 5 ways to handle sibling rivalry will be of help to you, as it was to me and my friend. Tell us what you think in the comments.