QUIZ: SIBLING ROLES
Zander says that the first step is to recognise when you’re acting out an old pattern.
“The way that you can tell if you’re doing this is to pay attention, and notice if you feel a little trigger, a tiny fear or desire to hold back. I suggest that when you feel one of these, instead of reacting, name it for what it is – a memory. Think back and try to remember when and why that pattern first started.”
To move forward, Zander suggests tracing back to how the old patterns came about and thinking about how to initiate new habits.
In order to understand sibling dynamics, it is necessary to look at both your lives in depth, says Safer. We often have no idea about the depth of resentment our sibling might be holding onto, particularly if we are perceived as being a parent’s favourite.
“People often ask me in bewilderment, ‘Why on earth is my sister so resentful of me?’ and then they’ll outline a life-comparison scenario, such as ‘she has several children and I wasn’t able to conceive’ or ‘she’s happily married; I’m divorced’. But life isn’t that simple. Maybe your sister doesn’t have the courage to leave a bad marriage and resents your freedom; perhaps she envies how much money you make; maybe you have got a great job and she’s unfulfilled?
“One of the trickiest steps in understanding sibling
conflict is trying to see the other person’s point of view. It’s never an easy thing to do because looking back at one’s childhood family is complex. ‘Our parents were different people with them than they were with us. Why?’ Maybe one child looked more like them, or they were the oldest or youngest. The sex of the child has an impact, as does their personality.”
Remember, no matter how heated sibling disputes become we can always rewrite the script. Safer says: “As siblings, our patterns of communication are rooted in babyhood. But you can pull out those roots and plant new ones. You can say: ‘OK, now we are adults and our parents have gone. We can start again.’” > Karen, 60, was cared for