Siblings are the peers we don’t choose but must live with anyway. A sibling may be a beloved friend, while for others a better description would be arch-nemesis.
Either way, constant and daily proximity to one another has the potential to be explosive at times. The phrase ‘sibling rivalry’ aptly describes the unique but complex nature of these relationships, or ‘sibships’, as Doctor Suzanne Degges-White calls them.
‘While we often joke that “you can’t choose your family”, it remains true that we can choose how we handle our inherited relationships,’ she says. In fact, she continues, ‘the energy and intensity of some children’s sibling interactions are surprising in their ferocity. But a great deal of learning about power, compassion, tolerance and loyalty in relationships can occur
as children grow into adults.’
Studies show that having strong sibling relationships in older adulthood can provide protection and support, in terms of emotional and physical well being. Degges-White suggests that if our adult sibships are less satisfying than we might like, developing a friendship with a sibling may prove to be mutually beneficial. ‘We cut our friends a lot of slack in life, and perhaps taking an attitude of also accepting our siblings, “faults and all”, might be an excellent long-term investment.’
As we mature into adulthood, sibships have real potential to improve with a bit of grace and intentionality. Doctor Degges-White explains that adulthood brings equality to sibships, so consideration for the following tips is well worth a try.
Source: Suzanne Degges-White, PhD—Psychology Today