How to have a good relationship with siblings as an adult

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Parent-child relationships, romantic relationships, and peer relationships take up our collective attention, but we are tied to our brothers and sisters for much longer; For many of us, our sibling relationships are the longest-running bonds we have.

At best, this means a built-in best friend for life, but often sibling bonds are strained and messy. Even with siblings who were inseparable at a young age, cracks can appear in adults.

It can be worth investing the time in mending these bonds, as experts say that having an emotionally intimate relationship with a sibling can make our lives happier and healthier.

“Sibling relationships are so important, but they are often overlooked,” said Jonathan Caspi, a professor in the Department of Family Science and Human Development at Montclair State University in New Jersey. “When you feel like you are grounded and connected to your family of origin, they are like your home base. You have these people that you can always come back to. “

What the research says

In the United States in 2014, nearly 8 in 10 children lived with siblings – whether they were birth, adopted, or stepbrothers and sisters US census data.

Much research on sibling relationships has focused on children – interactions between brothers and sisters at a young age are important for development. These relationships allow children to try new social and emotional behaviors, especially when it comes to conflict. Siblings help each other learn ways to deal with emotions and become more aware of other people’s thoughts and feelings.

The sibling relationship between adults has only sporadically attracted attention, but existing research suggests that there are clear benefits to maintaining and developing these connections over time. They pay dividends, especially as we get older.

Sibling first arose as a surprising “sleep variable”“for emotional well-being in adulthood in Harvard’s long-running study of adult development that began in 1937 and included 243 Harvard students, said the researchers. Of the men in this study who were close to a sibling in their youth, 93% thrived at the age of 65 – medically, economically, physically and psychologically, Caspi found in his research.
A 1999 Swedish study came to a similar conclusion. Contact with a sibling at the age of 83 and over was more influential than friends or one’s own children for health and life satisfaction. One of the reasons for this was that the number of friends decreased in this phase of life, but it also reflects the importance of an emotionally close relationship with a sibling. You are a fellow traveler in life and a unique connection to your own past, said Caspi.
Bad sibling relationships in childhood can also be related to this severe depression in adulthood, according to a 2007 analysis. In a 2012 article in the journal International Sociology, information on 6,630 Dutch showed that people who experienced serious negative life events such as divorce, addiction, financial problems, or psychological problems had less supportive and more stressful ties with their siblings in the past.

Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied psychology at Northeastern University in Boston, said it was difficult to unravel the reasons for these obvious connections.

“People seem healthier, happier, and more adjusted – all of these things are related to positive relationships with siblings, you know, and a lot of it comes from this idea that you can get support and help and reassurance from someone you are close to share a story and understand the world like you do, “said Kramer.

“What we don’t really know is whether it’s because people are happier less depressed people and are better able to educate themselves positive relationships with siblings or having a great sibling relationship help people better deal with all of the things that life entails. “

Siblings share about 50% of their genes, so there’s an evolutionary logic to investing and caring about sibling welfare, Caspi said. This could explain the playground phenomenon, where siblings actively protect each other from bullies but still torture each other in the same way at home.

It’s also important to remember how you interact with your siblings to send a message to the family you are raising as an adult, said Geoffrey Greif, co-author of Adult Sibling Relationships and professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.

For example, a focal point in many strained sibling relationships is the illness of older parents. Often times, it can be difficult to sit down and figure out how best to take care of them without a evokes old rivalries and resentments about who is considered the preferred child.

“Think about what you would like to leave your own children and family,” said Greif.

How you get along with your siblings as an adult

If your adult Your relationship with your sibling is strained, here are some steps you can take to get along better.

Expand your relationship and create new memories. Kramer said a common theme among siblings who don’t report a good relationship is that they don’t get together on their own terms. Often they only see each other at family reunions organized by parents or other family members when it is easy to reach into old roles and positions.

How to help siblings get along better

“There’s something powerful about the family system that pulls you back into old communication patterns.” She suggested finding ways to have rewarding and fun encounters outside the family home.

Accept and let go of old resentments. Don’t assume you know who your siblings are based on who you thought they were as a kid. Understand the ways in which you are similar and different and find common ground in your shared experiences. An obstacle to closeness in adulthood is a parent who played or was perceived as favorites among siblings in childhood.

“Each family member has a different view of who was preferred and why. As an adult, I see this as a great opportunity for people to just talk bluntly about what they remembered from that time and what they felt, ”said Kramer.

Don’t compare yourself to your siblings. Just as your younger brother got a bigger piece of cake, it may not seem fair that he should have a better job or a bigger house as an adult. But these are old feelings that don’t stand up to honest scrutiny. We all make different choices, and there is no innate reason that your path should be similar to that of your siblings.

How to raise children who can manage as adults

For parents looking to build strong bonds between their children that will last for a lifetime, here are some tips:

Make an individual appointment. It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but planning one-on-one time with your children is a good strategy. It means there is no competition for your attention and you can praise (or correct) your behavior without the other child attaching importance to it.

Parents the positive behavior. It’s important to make the effort to praise siblings when they are cooperating and playing well, rather than just meddling when the bickering gets to your ears.

Think about how you intervene in fights. It can help to ignore simple bickering, but when the fighting gets worse, parents should play the role of mediator or problem-solving coach, not a referee. Parents tend to intervene in favor of the younger child, which builds up more resentment in the older and enables the younger to challenge the older sibling more often.

Avoid sentences like “You are taller, be nice!” “Be a good role model” or “She’s small, give her the toy.”

Don’t compare your children. they Hear the comparisons and it creates more competition and struggle.


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