Jealousy in Adult Siblings – How to Deal With it
In a household of two or more children, it is not uncommon for them to compete for the affection and approval of their parents. Yet, despite a little competitive spirit it is still possible to have a healthy sibling relationship with each other if their parents were able to demonstrate an impartial attitude and create an inclusive environment where all siblings felt loved, supported and appreciated. Unfortunately, in most family households this is not the case. In fact, a study conducted by researchers of Cornell University 15% of 671 adults felt that growing up they were treated fairly and equally by their parents, while 85% of adults who participated in the study confirmed that they felt their parents were closer and more appreciative of their sibling, stirring feelings of resentment and jealousy for the sibling that they perceived to be the “favorite” one.
While bitter festering feelings should be obvious to parents, some parents admit that they were completely oblivious to their child’s envy and resentment for their sibling, along with the fact that they showed preference to one child over the other. While some people would like to believe that bad feelings become a thing of the past when a child matures into adulthood, the truth of the matter is, sibling rivalry simply do not just disappear into thin air with cognitive maturity. If it is not addressed at an early stage, it continues on into a child’s adulthood sometimes causing division among other family members.
How to Deal With a Toxic Sibling Relationship
Feeling like you were unable to gain the acceptance and affection of your parents because you were always walking in the shadow of your sibling’s achievements isn’t easy to deal with, and can cause emotional and psychological stress making it difficult to establish healthy communication or a meaningful relationship with your parents and your much-dispised sibling. So how do you deal with your resentment and the toxic relationship that exist between you and your sibling now that you both are mature adults?
1. Put Your Feelings on the Table
Expressing your feelings may make you feel vulnerable, but it is a necessary step to dealing with the jealousy and bitterness that exist between you and your sibling. Opening up about events that occurred in the past that caused you to feel animosity will give your parents and your sibling a broader understanding of your feelings and where they come from. It may be that your parents were unaware of their actions, and you may discover that while you thought that your sibling was aware of being deemed “the favorite” he or she may not have been aware of this at all, nor did they strive to attain the privileges they were given. Being upfront and honest about your feelings may give way for you to make a fresh start with your sibling, and give you an opportunity to mend a tarnished relationship.
2. Avoid Being Competitive and Learn to Appreciate Your own Achievements
Competing with your sibling in accomplishments and achievements will only fuel the rivalry and keep it going. Now, that you are an adult there is no need to prove that you are the better daughter or superior son. Appreciate all that you have accomplished in your life because they are your achievements, not because they outshine your brother or sister. Likewise, accept your failures and do not spend your time comparing your failures to your sibling’s achievements. This will put an end to the competition between the both of you and allow you to focus on repairing and rebuilding your relationship.
3. Seek Support From a Close Friend or Family Member
Let’s face it, some relationships are just toxic and no matter what you try to do to fix it, it just won’t work out. If the relationship between you and your sibling cannot be fixed, and the rivalry and jealous feelings persist, then you need to seek support from a close friend or family member. Choose some that you trust to be your listening partner so that you may confide in them. Their support may just be what you need to build up your self-esteem and self-confidence and overcome your insecurities. A positive self-perception is essential to establishing your own identity and understanding that you no longer need to compete against your sibling or be jealous of them.
4. Accepting Reality for What it is
If your sibling was your mom or dad’s favorite and still is, then this is something that you are just going to have to accept. Not being the favorite child in the house does not mean that your parents do not love and care for you. Although the truth may sting a bit, acknowledging the truth and accepting it is key to moving on.