Sibling rivalry is an issue common among children. But when this rivalry transcends to adulthood, it can indicate unresolved hostility or hatred. As adults, facing a sibling who hates you can be difficult, and what's more difficult is dealing with the conflict that stems from the hatred. Several research studies indicate that up to 45 percent of adults have a rivalrous or distant relationship with a sibling.
Sibling hatred is more pronounced during family get-togethers, especially when Mom or Dad are present. The hatred your sibling feels could be rooted in childhood competitiveness or vying for parental attention. Avoid the triggers you know often lead to arguments. If faced with your sibling, focus on the issue at hand in a calm manner. Another alternative is to remain neutral in conversations that lead to drama, or simply leave the room.
Root of the Hatred
Getting to the core of the sibling hatred may be the only way to resolve it. Schedule a meeting with your problem sibling in a neutral setting, such as a restaurant or a park, to discuss why the hatred exists. Talk to the sibling in a nonthreatening manner, using words of love and kindness, and not feed into familiar arguing patterns that have the tendency to escalate. Truly listen as he vents feelings or hurts from the past that have festered, and try to understand your role in the situation. Apologize for your role even if you were not wrong, for the sake of re-establishing the relationship.
Rebuilding the Relationship
Get together with your problem sibling to plan family events or outings. Attend activities you enjoy together; for example, schedule monthly luncheons, attend movies, go to a concert, do anything that is of a positive nature in rebuilding the relationship. Commit to calling one another weekly and talk about childhood experiences that made you laugh. Invite your sister and her family for dinner and cook favorite childhood desserts. Be mindful that the relationship is in the healing process, and don't reinvent issues that contributed to the hatred.
Sometimes Things Don't Work
If after you have tried to mend fences and the hatred and conflict continue, you may have to avoid contact with your sibling. You are bound to have some type of contact sooner or later, but keep conversations simple. You might try redirecting any conversation that may lead to drama. But do not allow your sibling’s hateful words to diminish your sense of worth.
- Wall Street Journal: Sibling Rivalry Grows Up
- Mom loved you best: Sibling Rivalry Lasts a Lifetime: William and Mada Hapworth and Joan Rattner Heilman
Historian Dianne Harper specializes in family relationships. She holds a master's degree in psychology and a bachelor's degree in family education. She began writing during her academic and professional tenure, and published her first book in 2010.
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