How To Stop Sibling Rivalry From Ruining Your Family Gatherings
Think sibling rivalry ends at childhood? Think again! Adult sibling rivalry is a very common occurrence. In fact, one study found that 70% of mothers felt closer to one of their adult children over the others. Furthermore, only 15% of adult offspring thought that they received equal treatment from their parents.
Parental favouritism can cause more than just arguments at family get-togethers, it actually creates an adverse effect on the mental health of all of the children, not just the ones who feel less favoured in the eyes of their parents.
For example, favoured children can feel stress from the high expectations set by parents. For those who feel less favoured carry their pain through childhood into new relationships in adulthood. What’s more, the favouritism can ruin the bond between siblings. Instead of using your family as a valuable support mechanism, they can drain you.
What causes sibling favouritism?
It is normal for siblings to see signs of favouritism. For example, geographical proximity may make parents and siblings closer; perhaps shared personality features make a parent-child bond stronger or similar world views can draw families together.
Sibling favouritism can vary throughout adulthood. In fact, studies find that parents are more ambivalent to their children who are less educated, unmarried or share fewer values. This is sadly human nature, and there is little you can do to change the balance. However, don’t worry if it stings. As children, we believed our parents would love us unconditionally; with this, they seem greater than human. When you realise that perhaps this love isn’t so unconditional, it can really hurt.
The hurt you may feel from sibling favouritism can often appear through a fierce sibling rivalry. You may find that you’re sick of your brother’s constant bragging, your mother’s gushing praise of your sister or the fact that your family always take the side of others in an argument. If you’re sick of the stress, don’t worry; there are ways to manage sibling rivalry as a mature, confident adult. It is time to rise above it.
How to manage a sibling rivalry
You can’t choose your family
We expect our family to be our support network. However, they are not your only network. Look elsewhere to find the support, acceptance and approval you crave through friends. Don’t feel that you need to invest your energy in your family if they are unable to give support. Instead, you’ll feel much more rewarded by finding a support network who share the same values as you and accept you as you are.
It is not a punishment
While it can feel deeply personal, most parents are not even aware they are expressing favouritism. They are not doing it as a punishment, and they probably do not feel that they love one child more than another. Instead, there could be countless reasons why they feel closer or choose to express their feelings differently between children.
Don’t play the blame game
Sibling favouritism can manifest as a sibling rivalry. However, it isn’t actually the sibling’s fault. Yes, they may go out of their way to be the favourite. But, this is because they’re desperately seeking love and approval for one reason or another. This is their problem, not yours. If you can, accept the relationship you have with your parents is different and try to keep your relationship with your siblings as separate from this as possible.
Sibling rivalry is envy
Competitiveness during childhood is entirely normal. However, in adulthood siblings should support and praise each other for their achievements, not try to criticise or diminish their results. If a sibling is trying to play down your achievements, it is likely that they are envious of you. You can help to diffuse the tension by reminding them of the things they have accomplished.
If this envy continues to manifest, then a heart-to-heart discussion in private may be the best way to move past a sibling rivalry and create a better relationship. Try to make sure this conversation takes place in a neutral environment such as a quiet coffee shop, so neither of you feels threatened.
Shift your behaviour
You may not be able to change the behaviour of your family but choosing not to rise to their comments or take their bait can dramatically improve the dynamic of family situations. If you are the one that desires change, then making a conscious effort to change your behaviour can force your sibling to shift their response.
Ultimately, you need to do what lets you make peace with the situation so you can make sure it doesn’t impact the rest of your life. Remember, it may take time to make a change; after all, it may be years of resent and hurt that you are trying to repair.
Still struggling with sibling rivalry?
If the hurt, anger and poor family dynamics are affecting your emotional wellbeing and life in general, then hypnotherapy may help to bring the confidence and peace you need to handle raw emotions from the past and make your next step to a better family relationship. Find out how hypnotherapy can help you with sibling rivalry by getting in touch for your free 15-minute consultation. Call to book your free appointment on 0207 971 7677.