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What Role do Sibling Struggles Play in Adult Relationships?

Were you the winner or the loser in your sibling dynamic?

Many parents believe that sibling rivalry is healthy, natural and unavoidable. There are many causes of sibling rivalry (age, developmental stage, personality), but a main cause is the need for power, attention or protection from parents.

Children, as young as infants, find comfort in routine and predictability. The family dynamic is a source of familiarity and certainty, including the ways in which parents react to each child during sibling struggles.

When one sibling picks a fight, he usually knows what type of reaction it will trigger from the parents. In that moment, the aggressor is seeking the feeling that reaction provides — negative attention if he is punished or power that he succeeded as the dominator if the parents take a hands-off approach.

2 Comments to
What Role do Sibling Struggles Play in Adult Relationships?

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  1. If anyone can provide me insight on the situation regarding my younger sister and me, I would appreciate it greatly.

    My mom died when I was 13, and she was 6. I raised her like a daughter. I taught her how to read and write, helped her get ready for school dances, tutored her in AP biology, and ensured that she had great professors at university when she finished high school – I went to the same university.

    I moved to the west coast for grad school, and when I arrived home for Christmas vacation, she left the house 10 minutes after. She did not return for Christmas dinner. I decided to fly “home” early, and she managed to make an appearance – 15 minutes before I had to leave, she told me what a horrible person I was. She has not spoken to me since – it has been five years.

    My sister and I used to be best friends, incredibly close. I do not understand what caused her to basically disown me.

    If anyone has had a similar experience or an idea about why she has done this I would love to hear it.

    Jennifer L. Reimer

  2. Jennifer
    I am so sorry to hear about your sisters feeling towards you. Have you tried to ask her or have contact with her in the last 5 years? Can you think of anything that would make her feel this way? I hope you do get to speak with her and maybe time has healed something for her. Have you spoken to any of your other family members?



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