Causes of rivalry & jealousy between adult siblings

adult siblings

Siblings share a special bond and love. They are often the closest relatives, with the most shared memories, feelings, and interests. There’s a lot of competition and rivalry between siblings that is fueled by our desire to please our parents.

In order to understand how sibling rivalry starts, we first need to know what causes it in the first place.

Sibling rivalry can be caused by a number of different factors such as: parents’ desires for children to compete for status; internal family dynamics; cultural expectations from the children’s spouses, cultural expectations from males rather than females; or more generally, an imbalance in power between siblings.

Some siblings are constantly in competition with each other, while some others try to establish a healthy relationship with one another even after marriage for both. What leads to rivalry and jealousy in siblings when they turn into adults or form their own families?

Causes for rivalry between adult siblings:

When it comes to siblings, you can have rivalry that could get intense at times. Envy is the root cause of rivalry and jealousy between siblings. Parents can also cause it when they provide unequal treatments for their kids or grandchildren.

While competition is an inevitable event, parents can help in minimising their children’s rivalry by providing equal opportunities for their kids in the form of learning experiences and financial investments.

Parents that offer one child the best bedroom in the house for example at a young age, and the other a smaller or darker one can also trigger feelings of jealousy early on.

Children aren’t just human beings but products of their environment, so it’s important for parents to make sure that they are providing equal opportunities, living spaces and love to their kids.

When to help one child financially and not the other:

If the kids grow old and one of them clearly states and explains that they don’t need help or cannot take it from the parents for whatever reason, then they should not get involved in what the other kid or kids get from the parents. The kid who cannot take help or a female who doesn’t want to do that out of fear of emasculating her husband, cannot stop her parents or influence them not to help the other kids or her brother(s).

A child may want to stop the parents from helping their sibling, by refusing help, if that child is already doing better in life or doe not need the help anyway. The parents however should be smart and not let themselves get influenced by what one of their kids think the other kid should or should not receive.

It’s not always financial:

Sometimes it’s not even about money, but silly details like how much a parent helped one kid with their newborn in terms of care and keeping the babies at times. If they didn’t or are not ready to offer the same type of help to their other kids or kids, then they may start getting jealous, or feeling that their parents don’t love the grandkids that are from them.

Other causes for adult siblings rivalry:

There are many more reasons why siblings will be jealous of each other. Other common causes of sibling rivalry are:

-The parents prefer one child over the other, even if they don’t verbalise this, they may be showing it in their actions.

Sometimes, the parents may even strongly deny it, but they would be worrying about the wellbeing and comfort of one child more than the other. Or they will not be willing to do much for their sons for instance, because they’re thinking that they cannot do much for their daughters who are married out of fear of emasculating their sons-in-law…

In this case, they clearly favour the daughters because they would’ve run and done the most for them if they could but they’re not and that’s only because they cannot. On the other hand, the sons that they can clearly do so much for, are left neglected out of fear from the parents of being “unjust”.

-Another reason may be that the children compete over their parents’ love and attention, which can lead to a sense of competition between siblings that will grow exponentially as they age.

-Female siblings may get jealous of the type of lifestyle their brother may be able to offer to his own wife, especially if they start comparing with what their husbands can do for them.

That’s because sisters feel very possessive over their brothers and sometimes fail to accept that their brother will grew into someone financially capable and that he will do all and everything for another woman or for woman of his choosing.

-Siblings have sometimes difficulty accepting that the same person that grew with them and shared the same childhood and lifestyle as them, will now go on to have more and afford more when they failed at doing so for themselves.

Sometimes if a sibling is more successful than the other, they will blame the parents for having paid or helped that child to get a higher degree, for example. Or they will nitpick and find imaginary ways to justify why it is unjust that their sibling now has a better life than they do.

-Another common cause for adult siblings rivalry is how much each one can do for their own kids. Comparing what their kids have, where they study, where they travel to and what they can buy or cannot can create envy and jealousy between the siblings.

Bottom line:

When parents attempt to make their kids compete with each other, this can lead to resentment and jealousy as the children develop a sense of inferiority.

While siblings are always competing with one another and tend to focus on what the other have or lack in life as well as status, parents should usually be able to remain neutral in this process.

Parents should refrain from talking or gossiping on the phone or in person about one of their adult children with another, as this can be misinterpreted or cause feelings of jealousy, regardless of the topic.

Whether the parents are praising one of their kids to another or not they should refrain from this type of behaviour and also they should be careful to never be influenced by what one kid think about the other.

Parents should not refer to one of their kids to ask about how much help they should give another kid or how much they should do for another kid, as in most cases the indirect answer they’ll always ever get is summed up in: Zero!

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