How Do Sibling Struggles Affect Adult Relationships


It is the belief of many parents that rivalry between the siblings is unavoidable, natural and it is healthy as well. Even though, different reasons like personality, developmental stage, nature of relationships and age can be pointed out for the reason behind sibling rivalry, the main cause is the requirement of protection, attention and power from parents. Generally, children right from their infancy stage find comfort in predictability and routine. The dynamism of the family is the main source of certainty and familiarity inclusive of the ways in which every parent reacts to each of their children during sibling struggles.

Attacking child

When a sibling begins a dispute, he/she generally knows the type of reaction that will come from parents. Now, when the parents follow a hands-off approach, the sibling will start to think that he/she has succeeded as the dominating one. On the other hand, if he is punished, he gains the satisfaction of getting the attention of the parents, even though it is a negative approach.

Attacked child

On the other side, when the parents follow a sympathetic or hands-off approach on the innocent sibling, it will create the feeling that he is the victim. When the innocent child is coddled, he gains the attention and protection of the parents. If the parents do not show any reaction to the situation, the innocent kid will begin to feel unprotected and he will begin to hold hatred as the victim.

For both these children, protection or power comes when they take part in their role as a winner or a loser. Even though, this type of sibling rivalry occurs in the lives of most of the children, the way in which the parents react to the behavior of each child, might play a major role in the development of their individuality and it can also affect their beliefs and activities on relationships as adults.

What was your role?

When you were a child, what was your role, were you the aggressor or the victim? When we grow as adults, we generally recollect the things that happened in our childhood when we get some free time along with our family members. But, do we take these childhood roles into external relationships? Do our issues in the associations in the later part of our life either in the form of friendship, colleagues or even marriage relationship relates to the reactions shown by our parents during our childhood days?

The role of parents

Parents will be well-aware of the fact that their children will take different roles in different situations in life. These roles can create a balance within the family and it will also allow each child to get the required attention from their parents without any rivalry with their sibling. However, parents should be aware of the things that can create these roles and the impact it will have on the feelings of each child about himself/herself and also about the world around them.

As the first association encountered by a child is the sibling relationship, it will play an important role in the choices made by children in their future with respect to friends, life partner and many other relationships. If a child is constantly victimized or he is prominently the dominating sibling, this feeling will continue all through his relationships in life.

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