Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Why do some siblings part ways with each other in adulthood? Why do some take each other to court using up most of their inheritance for legal fees?

Unfortunately there are a few friends of mine and some relatives who are distant from their siblings.  Some have not spoken to each other in 25 years. As an only child, I would cherish a sibling. Knowing the families of  my friends and relatives,  I came to the realization that their parents, not knowingly, were at fault in causing the friction .

Children are born innocent and have a will to love. They need the love, attention and nurturing equal to their siblings. Parents know this and have always planned on being fair and loving with all their children, equally giving them the same attention and love their children deserve.

What they did not realize was life experiences that come up every day. A parent with a disabled child for example gives more attention to him, than the healthy sibling. Although the disabled child got more attention and affection, he is still jealous of his healthy sibling. The healthy child hurts more. He lacked the love, affection and attention because the sick child needed his parents more. You would think that the healthy child understood this. In his young mind, he felt unloved, and lacked the attention. His self esteem deepens as well as his resentment to his sibling.

Children, sometimes see and hear differently. For example. When a parent is angry and yells at a child, the child does not realize he is doing anything wrong. His mind thinks that the scolding is because he is unloved.

Many years ago I took a valuable study course about how to deal with a difficult child. The program was called "PARENT STEP MODIFICATION" One of the major things I remembered from the program before scolding my child was to say " I LOVE YOU" first. I know it sounds silly, but it works. They hear those words and then they understood that even though mother or dad was scolding them, they were still loved. This is very important because it adds to their self esteem. When a child gets scolded often because of discipline problems, his self image gets worse as he becomes a teen and into adulthood.

Parental differential treatment is the degree to which parents treat each child in the family differently. Studies have found that most parents report that they have to be a different parent to each of their children (Dunn and Plomin 1990; McGuire 2002). For instance, parents often indicate that one child needs more attention compared to the siblings. This does not necessarily mean that one child is being favored over the others. Parents who love their children equally may treat them differently to help each child develop properly. Favoritism is a specific type of differential treatment; it occurs when one child receives more positive treatment (e.g., more affection or more toys) compared to his or her siblings. However this is confusing to a child way into his adulthood. The child sees differential treatment as favoritism

Studies of families in the United States and Great Britain have shown that parental differential treatment is linked to children's temperament characteristics. For instance, emotional children tend to receive more attention from their parents compared to their calmer siblings. Parents also respond to each child's age, sex, and, sometimes, position in the family (that is, birth order). For example, parents do not expect the same degree of obedience from a one-year-old child and her three-year old brother. It is considered standard for parents to react to children's unique personalities and different developmental levels.

Parental differential treatment is also associated with children's behavior problems, at least in Western societies. Children who receive more parental discipline and less parental warmth relative to their sibling have more adjustment problems compared to children in other family environments. It cannot be assumed that parental differential treatment always causes children's adjustment problems, because children who are disruptive often elicit negative parental behavior. Researchers have examined families over time; findings from these studies suggest that both the parents and the children contribute to this family dynamic (Reiss et al. 2000).

When you have children with no health issues, it is easier to concentrate on being a fair parent.
What about happy childhoods however later when a parent dies, one sibling is left more than the other? A parent may rationalize thinking one child needs more than the successful sibling.  or one child takes more care of a parent than the other.  Another problem, one child is the trustee,the other siblings are not.

So what do these adult siblings do now? How can they ever reconcile?  How can their hurt be erased. Too many years have gone by but never too late to heal.

Do the parents bring the siblings together and apologize for their unfairness?
Do they explain there was no manual on how to deal with problems of raising children?
Does the handicap sibling apologize for taking the attention away from his sibling?
Should the healthy child apologize to the handicap child for his selfishness of wanting more attention?

What suggestions can you offer to help those who are still hurting

How can siblings stop fighting?

There are many people who would love to hear your comments
Please feel free to comment below


Anonymous said...

I totally agree, but I don't know about evil. Parents have some responsibility, but there are siblings that make life very uncomfortable for no other reason than to get even on something that may have happened years before. I can speak from experience. I had a brother that spread lies about me to the family that to this day they still believe them. I don't understand why people choose not to question certain remarks and that makes it very uncomfortable. Someday people will question it and I welcome that day.

Iris said...

Dear Annonymous,

Remembering my psychology 101 class, a sibling that was left out of family socials due to insecurity, job, or illness would be jealous. In order to get recognition and popularity, spreading false rumors, or instigating family matters, can gain him esteem for awhile. The sibling that is the victim of false rumors should have stopped it immediately, not with his sibling alone but to notify all family members too, advising them the truth. If this is not done, it festers for years and the quality of sibling relationships tarnish forever.

Thanks so much for sharing with us today. I hope this helps others with the same problem.

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