If your adult brothers and sisters ignore you, you may feel hurt, overwhelmed and confused by their behavior. Perhaps you hurt their feelings at some point, but that was long ago and you have apologized. You may have nieces and nephews you would love to see but cannot because of these conflicts. No matter what the reason, there is a way for you to show your brothers and sisters you are willing to come to an understanding in your relationship and move on from the past.
Ask your siblings why they are ignoring you. If they will not meet with you in person, write a heartfelt email or call them. If they don't answer, leave a detailed message. Perhaps sibling rivalry is the reason for their distant behavior. This is one of the most harmful, but least addressed issues in a family, according to The Wall Street Journal. Maybe you unwillingly hurt your siblings and they are waiting for an apology. You will not know the reason until you ask. Listen carefully to what they say.
Offer an Apology
Say you are sorry. It is a simple solution that could make a difference in your sibling relationships. The worse the transgression, the more essential a sincere apology becomes, according to John M. Grohol, who holds a doctorate in psychology. Be specific when you apologize, making sure your siblings understand you take responsibility for your actions. Explain that you know you hurt their feelings and that you have learned from the mistake. Remember that everyone needs time and space to recover from conflict. Do not expect your siblings to immediately accept your apology. Instead, be understanding and give them the liberty to recover at their pace.
Reconsider Family Dynamics
There may be reasons for sibling strife that can be traced back to childhood. Take sibling position into consideration, according to Michael Kerr, head of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in Washington, D.C. For example, your parents may have favored you over your younger brother, which has caused him to resent you. Your siblings may change their perspectives if they realize that your conflicts are actually due to your relationship with your parents, not each other. Remember that old grudges may linger. It is unfortunate, but your parents may still practice preferential treatment for you over your siblings. If this is the case, your siblings may have a hard time forming a relationship with you.
Offer a Solution
There may be a way to mend relationships that you have not considered. You may offer to fix a problem that you caused, especially if you did not know about it until recently. The solution to your conflict will vary depending on what caused the relationship to suffer, so ask what you can do to mend fences.
- Cain's Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy, and Regret; Jeanne Safer
- Dr. Phil: Getting Over Sibling Rivalry
Kristen Moutria has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Evangel University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in education from the University of Nebraska.