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The Love (and Rivalry) Shared By Siblings: Understanding The Intricacies

Posted on April 13, 2012 in Specials

By Abdul Wahid Khan:

Love is the basis of every relationship; it cannot be measured but only felt. From the very beginning, children have different relations with different people. The first relation formed when they are born is with their parents. After this, they have their second relation with their siblings. Then they grow up to meet their friends and life partner later in life. The relation between siblings is the one which they share throughout their lives; the sibling is the first friend in everyone’s lives. They share almost everything starting from toys to their room in childhood. This is the longest relationship one ever has, which lasts even after the parents are no more present.

In India, there is a special festival “Raksha Bandhan” celebrating the bond of siblings, specially brothers and sisters. Raksha Bandhan means a “bond of protection” in which the brothers promise to the sisters on the festival. It is basically a way to foster care and affection between the two.

Basically, the bonding between siblings starts because they get the chance to spend more and more time together. It is easy because they live at same home together since childhood and they may even be sharing a room. They share their problems and secrets and thus better understand each other which increases love between them. If there is a big gap between age of siblings and the elder one takes the leadership role, this can inspire the younger one, and then there is even stronger foundation because of intersection of interests of both siblings. The elder should guide younger one on how to tackle problems and solve them. This increases reliance and dependency and if the older child involves younger child in the things he does and the games he plays and not consider the younger child as out of league, then this increases feeling of equality and importance in the younger child. They actually create more and more memories to remember later in life and keeping their bond protected throughout their lives. It is like being friends but a friend who has been there since the very beginning and is quite special one.

The love shared by siblings can vary at different levels. Siblings may be of help to each other but live very differently because of different perspectives they have. Different perspectives are developed by living in different conditions and not spending time together. After certain age, they may develop different habits and start differing in the way they used to live together since childhood. Marriage is also considered to be an event in life which decreases the bonding between siblings. In a research, it was found that the frequency of contact after marriage was most between sister-sister siblings and least between a pair of brothers and a mix of both. The actual test of bonding comes when it is about caring for parents when they are old and ill. Siblings may think at such time, “Why should I take the responsibility alone?” Such feelings lead to anger and frustration between them for each other resulting in weakening of relationship. It also depends on how much dedication one has shown for the other in the past selflessly.

The concept of sibling rivalry is not new in psychological research; it starts even before the second child is born. There are various reasons for sibling rivalry, like the lack of attention to one child in comparison to other, the fight occurs out of jealousy or competition in some respect over something. It also depends on individual temperament, even parents also compare one sibling to other sometimes and this also increase anger in them for each other. Sibling rivalry much depends on the values parents instill in them. In later life, various rivalries arise due to unsatisfactory division of parents’ property and money among them after the death of their parents. Many a times, siblings fight over the right for parental properties and it is very common in India as well as all over the world.

Earlier, there was a trend of joint families. There used to be big families living together and all children sharing the same home. It used to be a great place for social development of child and also there used to be great chances of good bond between siblings. But now due to globalization, people travel out of their native place for work. Nowadays, there are nuclear families in which a few people live in small homes, they are busier with their lives and focus more on making money and work. They get little time for home and family and as a result, there are fewer chances of spending time together and sharing things. Even children in school are burdened with so much work that they are busy in tuitions most of the time and hence get less time to spend with their siblings. It leads to weak bonding between siblings. It is now only upon the parents to take great care to improve the situation at home and make this relation everlasting as it should be.