Troubled feelings and conflict from childhood can result in difficult and complicated sibling relationships in adulthood. As the siblings grow up and start their own families and relationships, their bond often goes into hibernation mode, explains Heidi Riggio, associate professor of psychology at California State University, in the article "Oh, Brother!" for "Psychology Today." Siblings can fix their broken bond and heal together by learning to be understanding, taking accountability for their actions and being willing to forgive.
Think about what led to the breach in your relationship. Ask yourself if the anger or resentment you feel toward your sibling is worth not having her around in your life. Identify how feelings of jealousy, inferiority or competition dating as far back as childhood have contributed to your problems as adults. In the "Oh, Brother!" article, Judy Dunn, a development psychologist, explains that most sibling conflict arises from the competition for parental attention and affection in childhood. Make a decision to let go of all the grudges against your sibling that you have been carrying around for so long.
Overcome your pride and take the initiative to reach out to your sibling. Make contact, either by telephone, by email or in person, and explain that you want to mend things between the two of you. Keep the focus of the conversation on moving forward and finding solutions rather than playing the blame game or bringing up problems from the past.
Accept that you played a role in the conflict. It's important to take responsibility for your role in the sibling rivalry and to understand why your sibling feels the way he does about you. Listen to your sibling's point of view, and be open to realizing that you inadvertently hurt him. Apologize and take accountability for your own actions.
Understand that although you grew up together, you and your sibling are different individuals. Expect that you two will continue to have opposing views and ideas regarding different matters. Agree to accept that no one is right or wrong and to respect the other person's point of view. Be open and willing to listen to your sibling's situation and reasoning when you disagree on something.
- PsychologyToday: Oh, Brother!
- Mom Loved You Best: Sibling Rivalry Lasts a Lifetime; William Hapworth et al.
Lauri Revilla has been writing articles on mental health, wellness, relationships and lifestyle for more than six years. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, from Mexico in 2006. She holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University.