There can be a lot of tension in the family when there are sibling rivalries
There can be a lot of tension in the family when there are sibling rivalries. The roots of sibling rivalry usually come from competing with parent attention in early childhood. This is a major problem because growing up children may have negative ruminations about their self and within their own sibling relationships which may lead to mental health issues and antagonistic relationships toward other people outside of the family. This is also much more pronounced within low-income immigrant families that may have scarce resources or no community to go to for help. Some of the problems that arise from sibling rivalries include if parents have favoritism, parent expectations on child achievement in the family and emotions of jealousy and competition that develops in the early childhood amongst siblings. Sibling rivalries are a severe problem because what starts in the home environment may lead off to negative work ethic and social relationships in the outer world. Therefore, effective programs that promote resiliency in the families and provide support programs that such as children mental health counseling, family therapy, and sibling relationship workshops may help reduce rivalries among siblings. Having such programs may help siblings be understanding of one another and help grow their personal relationships which may, in turn, help them in their relationships in their professional life.
In the study “Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Homeless and Low-Income Housed Mothers”, researchers compared the proportion of “DSM-III-R disorders among homeless and low-income housed mothers with the prevalence of these disorders among all women in the National Comorbidity Survey” (Bassuk 1561). DSM- III-R disorders are common mental health disorders that include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. They found that there were similar psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD and depression, found in mothers with low-income housed mothers and homeless versus the general population of women in mid-sized American cities. One of the problems that may result in early childhood sibling rivalries may come from parents especially low-income mothers who have struggled throughout their life with mental health problems such as major depression and have a hard time earning a living. This article describes how low-income mothers may have a higher chance of getting these mental health disorders.
I live in a low-income immigrant family of seven. Having parents show sign of conflict from earning a living may have affected my childhood upbringing. My parents, especially my mom must deal with constant worry and fear trying to raise five kids and four of them who are in college. I think she shows that she has major anxiety and panic attacks as she brought up me and my siblings which in turn has affected my relationships with my other siblings. I have constant rivalries when they are around me that it makes me feel angry when they are around.
Parents may also contribute to sibling conflicts by showing sign of favoritism towards one sibling than another. In my case I am the middle child of five children. Growing up I was constantly told that I should be more like my older brother or sister and be more like them in studying science and medicine in their career. Even my twin brother decided to major in biology, while I decided to explore a career in the art field. I believe having certain expectations of children may result in siblings trying to compete one another. The article entitled “Birth Order, Sex of Child, and Perceptions of Parental Favoritism” examines the perception of parental favoritism through a study of 680 college students from the U.S and Canada ranging from 18-50 years old. Participants were asked “Of all your brothers and sisters, does or did your Father have a favorite?” and “Of all your brothers and sisters, does or did your Mother have a favorite?” (Salmon et al 357). They were then asked to circle yes or no for each question and to indicate the sex and age of the parent favorite if a favorite was chosen. The results found that mothers only are perceived as favoring firstborn and lastborn children, but participants perceived fathers as favoring female children rather than male children. Parental favoritism is perceived differently among siblings so one sibling may feel more loved by a parent than the other. Having favoritism doesn’t mean one person is lesser of the other, but children may feel obliged to compete for parents’ approval whether it be the mother or father. Having too much competitions may become toxic as sibling relationships develop over time. I know I have competed for my own parents’ attention whether it be grades or sports. It has made me feel jealous of my siblings whenever they do better that me and has made me feel more like a number rather than a human being.
Parent education may also be a contributing factor to why siblings have rivalries. In the article study entitled “The Influence of Parent Education and Family Income on Child Achievement: The Indirect Role of Parental Expectations and the Home Environment”, researchers examined how parent education, family income and other factors may influence child achievement among different racial groups. Davis-Kean and Kazak found there were other factors besides financial constraints that contributed to child achievement. The article describes if parents provide a nurturing engaging home-environment and emotionally stable place for their kids, then “the negative effects of financial restrictions can be minimized” (Davis Kean et al 302). In my family, I did not have an emotionally stable home environment and my siblings, and I would always compete against one another in terms of getting better grades and getting awards in school to get my parents’ attention. I always felt I was behind them in my academic life and I strived to get higher grades on my report card. Competition is good only when it does not become toxic to a person’s mental wellbeing. I had mental breakdowns in the amount of pressure I received from my own siblings to do better in school that I needed to go to therapy for a few years in my high school career.
Additionally, in the article, “Influence of Child Behavioral Problems and Parenting Stress on Parent–Child Conflict Among Low-Income Families: The Moderating Role of Maternal Nativity” by Aileen S. Garcia, Lixin Ren, Jan M. Esteraich, and Helen H. Raikes Merrill-Palmer it describes how “Children with behavioral concerns manifest problems relating to aggression, attention, emotional control, and withdrawal. Behavior problems have been consistently linked to maladjustment later in life, such as underachievement, substance abuse, depression, and antisocial behavior. Externalizing behaviors in childhood, particularly, have been associated with the development of academic and conduct problems and can escalate to criminality in adulthood” (315). These are problems that can stem not only from sibling rivalries when jealous of one another in early childhood development but from problems from low parental involvement, poverty, and even hostility and aggression from parents. I know that sibling rivalries is only a singular factor that may contribute to a person’s behavioral problems but nonetheless it is still a problem that needs to be addressed.
There are many programs out there to help reduce sibling rivalry. A Policy Report entitled “Strong at the Broken Places: The Resiliency of Low-Income Parents” provides the public with effective programs such as Circle of Security, Dare to Be You, and Child First that promote resiliency in families. Circle of Security Parent Program (COS-P) helps build the bond between the child and caregiver by providing facilitators who work with parents to help them understand child’s emotional needs by learning to read external behaviors. Dare To Be You (DTBY) is an award winning family based program that focuses on the development of children and prevention of problematic behaviors through training, curriculum, and technical assistance. By providing workshop in schools, communities, and national training for DTBY implementation teams and multisite research projects this helps encourage positive children development. Child First is a national two-generation model that works with vulnerable young children and families by providing intensive home-based services such as therapeutic support for parents who’ve experienced trauma and did not have support system to help them cope with hardships. For children, Child First can connect them with a speech therapist and for older children mental health counseling. These programs also provide online articles that help families deal with rivalries amongst siblings I’ve been to mental health counselling and it has really helped me cope with the daily stresses of my siblings that may a negative impact on me.
Some people are still hesitant to investigate these programs as way to deal with sibling rivalries. Although sibling rivalries do not happen with every set of siblings, it still exists and therefore needs to be a resolution. The Policy Report “Strong at the Broken Places: The Resiliency of Low-Income Parents” written by Renée Wilson-Simmons and her colleagues wrote that “while research has shown us that better outcomes for low-income children can be achieved by focusing on early intervention approaches, significantly more funds must be channeled into sustained, high-quality implementation of both evidence-based and promising programs for their replication to produce long-lasting and widespread impact”(11). These programs should be a helpful start to decreasing rivalries amongst siblings if the public is willing to engage in them for their own benefit. Paying money toward programs that help resolve family sibling problems is one thing a family must do to attain help, but there are links to articles and videos from the Policy Report that may help struggling families that may not have the ability to do so. I believe that these enriching programs can help deal with the problems in sibling rivalries that could last a life time of better relationships with siblings, parents, and even other people outside of the family circle.
Furthermore, there are other ways to deal with sibling rivalries. Parents can cope with siblings that may envy one another for being talented in a certain skill, by minimizing how much a sibling is compared. I have a hard time dealing with my own parents when they compare me to my siblings and tell me to be like them. We are all different individuals that excel at different things, so we should not try to become like anyone but ourselves. In the article “Siblings’ Experiences in Middle Childhood Predict Differences in College Graduation Status” researchers found that “warmth between siblings in middle childhood predicted the likelihood of siblings having the same college graduation status (i.e., both graduating or both not graduating), even after considering differences in the siblings’ middle- and high-school grades” (Sun et al 2). This is an example of how warmth between siblings can help built each other’s successes in college when each sibling is pursuing different things in their own lives. I understand that parents may not always know that they are comparing their children to one another, but it still does create a stigma between siblings that may cause more harm than good. When parents allow their children to develop at their own pace, this helps bring siblings together rather than bring them apart.
Despite having sibling rivalries in the family, I think there also positive outcomes of having them around. Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor of science and technology reporting at TIME Magazine. In his talk he talks about the advantages of having life-long sibling relationships, order of birth influence on possible personality traits, favoritism, and sibling rivalry. He describes how siblings can teach each other to avoid conflict and resolve it, “when to stand up for themselves, when to stand down; they learn love, loyalty, honesty, sharing, caring, compromise, the disclosure of secrets and much more important, the keeping of confidences” (Kluger). He also describes how parents may prefer one sibling over another but in some instances can conceal their preference which he states from his book The Sibling Effect. I also found it interesting that he talked about how birth order may impact traits of seriousness, goofiness, and feeling left out. Many of the factors that he mentioned that influenced a child’s personality really resonated within me. Being a middle child having to find what I’m good at has been a challenge, even having jealousy from my own brothers and sisters who seem to have a set career in the science field really conflicts with me. I agree there are positive outcomes of having siblings around, but nonetheless having too much sibling rivalry around may lead to adult mental health issues that could have been resolved if given the proper programs to cope with such things.
Sibling rivalries is a major problem amongst the younger generation and roots from competing for parent attention in the early childhood. Some of the problems mentioned that could occur in the adult life include low self-esteem, mental health problems, and social problems with other people outside of the family. Nonetheless it is still a problem that can root from a variety of sources not only the ones that I mentioned previously such as parent favoritism, parental expectations and competition amongst siblings. This problem is more prominent in families that live in poverty and have a likelier chance in attaining mental health problems. Despite challenges every family faces, I think Sibling rivalries are a severe problem because what starts in the home environment may lead off to negative work ethic and social relationships in the future. Therefore, effective programs that promote resiliency and support such as children mental health counseling, family therapy, and sibling relationship workshops may help reduce rivalries among siblings. Having these programs may help help grow their personal relationships which may, in turn, help them know how to act to strangers in their own walks of life.