QUIZ: SIBLING ROLES

Good Health (Australia) - - Contents -

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

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