Relationship of siblings


Journey of siblings through their life spans

Early childhood is the time when siblings start relating to each other. Interestingly it is also the time when they in a lot of likelihood start relating to someone of their age group deeply for the first time. There are a lot of conflicts as both crave for the primary attention of their parents and other family/friends. At the same time these conflicts are important to define the relationship and create the beginning of a life long bond. If there are parents let conflicts happen between them then there is a higher chance of a peaceful everlasting deep rooted love.

This is also a good time for companionship to develop as gender differences are not perceived as important. Parents also are less aware of the gender differences in a lot of cases. This helps in helping the children relate to each other easily. There is a healthy sense of competition but also a great sense of protection of each other.


Teenage is not the best time for the bond between siblings to develop.

It is a time where family starts being only one of the aspect of relationships. Children are eager to make other social bonds apart from siblings. They value friendships more. Also at this stage the gender differences start becoming visible and the treatment of parents to both the children also starts being seen differently. They start creating their own individual identity and also begin to disconnect on various aspects. It is a time of rapid emotional and physical development as well as a time where they try to build a sense of identity. All these are individual processes where there are mood swings, insecurities which creates conflicts and distance in the sibling relationship. Nevertheless there are always special moments between them as well as family whether sad or joyous that keeps the relationship alive.


Young adult life is marked with career and finding a partner.

Here a sibling relationship is certainly not the most primary relationship as a sense of individual identity is completely established. Siblings look at creating their own sub family. But at the same time a sense of friendship is developed as mostly competition fades down as individuals establish their vocations. This friendship is a long one longer than any other relationship one ever has in life, as it begins at birth. This longevity makes this relationship very special. This gets too scary for comfort that someone knows you in and out. At the same time its heartening to be accepted unconditionally.

After marriage usually even if siblings fall apart they come together and resolve their conflicts. They accept the differences between them that must have caused pain in their developing years and let go the baggage. It becomes a secure relationship where it is easier to relate and depend on each other. They also work on making sure that they make time for meeting and also serve as medium to help each other get closer to their family of origin i.e their parents.

In old age siblings get closer as there is usually crisis in terms of health of their parents.

They jointly discuss, decide and take care of the concerns of their families like death, inheritance, disability, etc; they come together and relate more as they share responsibilities like never before.

This a developmental trajectory considering children who love each other and have been brought up in regular healthy environments. At the same time there is an individual uniqueness that everyone brings to a relationship. The number of siblings in a family, their age differences, their strengths and weaknesses, their relationships with their parents, gender roles in the family, also shape up the development of a sibling relationship differently.


Withstanding the harshness of time

Sibling relationship begins at birth and takes shape in competition while they crave for parental attention. With time they form their own individual identities and cope up with the challenges that time brings upon all of us. It a relationship that has to be worked and reworked for a lifetime. Siblings’ lives are entwined right from birth and is the longest relationship with the same age group that can ever be. On the other hand there are phases of conflicts, distance, rivalry, competition, etc; through all this one thing remains common that they share their biological parents.

They carry unique childhood memories, jokes, experiences that are only a part of their shared upbringing. There are joys and sorrows that is a part of growing up and becoming an adult which only they share. In fact to some extent their own individual identities are formed after being in conflict with each other. This rich repertoire of impressions that are a part of a individuals internal working model that is their core helps them stick together through challenges of time. Also they have shared responsibilities towards family of origin that keep bringing them back together.


Gestures one should do to solidify the sibling relationship

Most people want to have a closer bond with their brother or sister, but at the same time they do not know how to make it happen in real. There is a sense of hesitation that comes from their childhood experiences of conflicts.
To begin with you should stop blaming each other for what happened in childhood. Accept it as a part of growing up! Then make time for each other apart from the compulsions that your family or important ceremonies compel you to do. Plan more quality time both in person and otherwise.

Further, try and stop gossiping about each other to your parents but try and accept the different personalities. Stop bullying each other as now you are adults and there needs to be space and boundaries defined. Be considerate and avoid those sarcastic jokes that your sister or brother is not comfortable with. Appreciate each other in person as well as to your friends and family. This is a part of knowing each other too well, it is an added benefit and makes you feel intimate like in no other relationship. Do not compare your relationship to others’, be secure about it and accept its uniqueness. Be friendly with your brothers’ or sisters’ spouse and family whether you like them or not. Take vacations together.


What are the different roles a sister plays in the life of a brother?

Most of the times in brother sister relationship the roles they play get specific to their gender. There are individual differences off course but let me talk about the most common ones.

Sisters help their brothers style themselves, they are supportive towards their brothers in their family and community, sisters are confidants where advise on the opposite sex is unconditional and non judgmental, sisters are companions where you share hobbies as you grew up together as well as shared values and morals, older sisters are like mothers where they correct you, spoil you and stand up for you! They are also your cheerleaders and keep your secrets without leaving a trail. They encourage you and believe in you when you are losing hope as they know you really well and are capable of enormous empathy!


Online counselling to help solve issues between siblings

If you have relationship issue with your siblings or if you have issues in children parenting, onine counselling may be helpful to you. Please feel free to ask me a question or book an appointment in order to get the proper diagnosis in your situation.

Richa Khetawat is a trained Psychologist providing online counselling services in a professionally helping manner to facilitate transitions in life. She has over 10 years of experience helping individuals cope with managing family and relationships issues, stress and anxiety, life transitions, children parenting and adolescent issues.