Relationship Skills: Sibling Rivalry

Growing up with a sibling will give you a unique slant on life. Besides having a constant companion, a natural born confidante, your sibling may prove to be your biggest rival. An extreme example of this behavior, would be what movie goers witnessed in the Boleyn Girls. The siblings in this film are not the norm, but sibling rivalry, particularly the adolescent type, can be tough to overcome in later years. To heal old wounds and become friends again you have to employ some new relationship skills. It’s out with the old ‘smack talk’ and in with the new supportive language. To get those relationship skills up to par you have to be committed to the work and keep the prize of a better sibling relationship in your constant immediate view. There will be probably be baggage, hurt feelings and the desire to be comfortable, even if the two of you are unhappy. With positive relationship skills you can rediscover a sister or brother and find a real friend.

Could you gain a best friend from your sibling rivalries?

Break the Ice
After years of ‘Indian Burns’, ‘Atomic Wedgies’ and ‘Nipple Twisters’, be prepared for a little suspicion on the part of your sibling. Relationship skills, in the past, probably consisted of gas noises made with arm pits and the occasional, harmless prank. Talk to your sibling or siblings and share your desire with them to get to know them better as people, not just sis or big brother. Be honest about how you feel and what your goals are. Be open about your desire to enhance your sibling relationship skills. Be prepared to be met with a chuckle or other displays of disbelief. Grant your sibling some time to think about it and let them get used to the idea of getting to know you better. You’ve had plenty of time to think about improving your relationship with them, give them time to do the same.


Establish New Traditions
Set a regular day and time to get together with your sister or brother. New, improved relationship skills won’t develop through ESP or good vibrations. You have to put something in the relationship basket, to get something out. For siblings who live long distance, make a regular phone call to each other at the same time every week. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier. Ask questions about their family, their life, their career. Talk about the weather, your favorite sports teams and yes, even your parents. For siblings who live closer, developing better relationship skills might be a weekly visit at a local coffee shop or gym. Even a bi weekly or monthly gathering would be beneficial to growing your new relationship. Make these meetings just for siblings or if you must, siblings and spouses. Leave friends out of your new bonding time.


Resist Old Traditions
In the process of creating new boundaries and relationship skills, you will likely to be tempted to fall back into old behaviors. Competing for parental attention, being the alpha sibling, being prettier, funnier these are old habits. Be conscious of bad relationship skills and remind each other about the new rules. Don’t heckle each other or fall back into old name calling or posturing. If you find this happens repeatedly, then


Mimi Bullock- Freelance Writer, Ghostwriter

Surviving Sibling Rivalry


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