In India, sibling relationships are considered absolutely divine compared to anywhere in the world. Our epics like Ramayan celebrate the loving relationship between Ram and Lakshman and boast about how the latter followed his elder brother to the end of the world and back.
But in reality, what happens in my experience as a therapist is that sibling relationships are something that gives a lot of clues about a family relationship. A lot of times, people just say that siblings are like that. They tend to fight. What is the big deal? Well, it is a big deal. The way siblings relate to each other says a lot about their early childhood. And how is it that they grew up?
Sibling rivalry persists when there is an ongoing conflict between children who are raised in the same family. It can be between related siblings, step-siblings, or any other family structure.
The common causes of intense sibling rivalry can be:
- The first one is a lack of structure. A lot of parents do not set firm boundaries. For example, if a pizza comes in, who is going to get how many slices are left very weak. So sometimes it’s simple. Things like mealtimes become a battleground, where each one fights as though in the jungle. Whoever gets the lion’s share gets, but the others just have to fend for themselves.
- So, parents, if you want your children to learn not to compete with their siblings, ensure that there are healthy boundaries and proper rules and regulations. Children tend to thrive under good rules and regulations.
- A second factor could be that parents have given either negative attention or no attention. In simple words, if one child cried or complained, the parent usually responded either by scolding or by spanking one of them or both of them. As a result, when children grow up in such a charged political environment, or because their parents are too busy to give them time, they tend to see each other as rivals or people competing for the parent’s attention.
- Parents need to acknowledge the troubled relationship and have a proper conversation with children to develop a space for a compassionate, loving, helpful, and empathetic relationship with each other.