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Are We Finished Fighting Yet?

C. B. Gavant

Some sisters and brothers never outgrow sibling rivalry — the feuding follows them into adulthood, causing untold hurt and family tension. What to do when sibling rivalry stretches into adulthood.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Many people believe that sibling rivalry is something that children eventually outgrow. But this isn’t always the case. “Some adult siblings carry the pain and dysfunction that they had in their childhood straight through to adulthood,” says Adele Faber, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Siblings without Rivalry.

When Mrs. Faber and her coauthor Elaine Mazlish began running parenting workshops years ago, they quickly learned that sibling rivalry was very much alive among the parents they worked with, all of whom were decades out of childhood. Angry and bitter adults shared tales of being constantly compared to their siblings, or worse, overlooked and overshadowed — both in childhood and in adulthood. Children who were raised with the message “Why can’t you do as well as your brother?” still harbored resentment toward this sibling 20 or 30 years later.

Rabbi Dr. Jerry Lob, a clinical psychologist with a private practice inChicago, remembers meeting with a woman in her 40s who had recently gone “home” for Pesach. “She returned traumatized, telling me, ‘My sister treated me the same way she did when I was 15, and my mother sided with her again — just like she always did when we were children.’ ”

 

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