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Biagetti 1
Erica Biagetti
Mr. Bisicca
English II
22 December 1998
Sibling Rivalry
“I had it first.” “No I did.” “You always have to get your own way.” “Mom, he’s hurting me.” “You deserved it ‘cause you started it.” Does any of this sound familiar in your home? It is natural and normal for siblings to be rivals. The wish of every child is to be the sole recipient of the parent’s love and attention. When siblings fight, they are usually seeking to be the most loved child.
“Sibling rivalry is the fighting that occurs between children as they compete for the attention of their parents” (Faber & Mazlish, 1). Children can be extremely tireless in their abilities and intensity when it comes to conflict with their siblings. They can be masters at fighting and at pulling their parents into the fight (1). “The fighting that siblings engage in can actually be an important process for them to go through. They will learn to take risks, negotiate, and assert themselves with people they trust” (2).
There is probably no more intense relationship than the sibling bond, except the bond between child and parent. “Powerful feelings of both love and hate alternate, often swiftly, and brothers and sisters have to learn in their earliest years to control these intense feelings” (1).
The full range of human emotions first begins on the sibling scene, especially during the early years. The home is the setting in which both the most powerful ties
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of love are formed, and the deepest hatreds boil (1-2). “The sibling slowly learns to accept both violent and loving desires. Siblings may either help each other to accept the inherent difficulties of life or destroy each other’s capacity to adjust to the demands of parents and society” (2).
“It is important to realize that the majority of sibling fighting starts with feelings of jealousy and favoritism. It is natural to be envious of a brother or sister who seems to get all the attention” (Cohen, 75-76). Feelings of jealousy and favoritism can stand in the way of close sibling relationships (76).
For siblings to love each other, they have to feel that they are loved equally by their parents. Otherwise there is deep resentment on the part of the one who feels less loved, and gloating on the part of the favored one. Siblings then feel ill at ease with each other and quarrels are apt to erupt at the slightest provocation (13).
Sometime in the early years siblings have to accept the impossibility of obtaining the exclusive love of a parent. A parent may feel more love for one child than for another, but there is always some degree of love bestowed on each sibling (5). “As siblings realize and accept this, their hostility eases and they are able to acknowledge that each of them will be loved for his or her own qualities and achievements. They do not need to live in constant anger, feeling unloved” (5-6).
Every child possesses the wish to be the favorite, the biggest and the best, but a sibling always threatens this wish (31). “No matter how kind, considerate, warm, and loving parents are, siblings will fight for the parents love” (32). Each child has
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struggled for a place in the family at one time. Whether it is a struggle to be heard or seen, or to be understood, we are asking someone else to look away from all others and see us (Cohen, 18). “To recognize us for the moment and to give us a pat on the back. In larger families there are many to compete with, while in small families there is no competition” (19).
Problems between siblings arise with the aspect of birth order. ”If you’re the oldest, your parent learned how to parent on you. You’re the first to experience everything, including discipline” (Bode, 49). The first-born child is disciplined more harshly then any children who come later. Still, this child starts out in the spotlight, they are a parent’s dream for the future. “That means pressure on you to succeed, and first-borns do seem to end up more often in leadership positions” (49).
First-borns grow up wanting approval, admiration and respect. They can demand obedience from those who they feel are inferior to them. “What you have