Siblings versus Friends
Are our siblings necessarily our friends?
A sibling is our biological brother or sister. We also regard our adopted brothers and sisters as our adopted siblings.
According to the Golden Rule – “Love your fellowman as you love yourself” – our siblings are actually first in line to be loved as we love ourselves. Yet, so many siblings are each other’s enemies instead of friends.
But are 'sibling' and 'friend' synonyms? Let’s look at the definition of the word ‘friend' –
- A person you know well and regard with affection and trust.
- An associate who provides cooperation or assistance.
- A person with whom you are acquainted.
So, obviously, our siblings ARE supposed to be our friends.
Though in rare situations they are our enemy – the most unfavourable, hostile person in our life, stealing our happiness, joy and peace.
Let’s contemplate some confessions -
I have asked some of my relatives and friends to confess how they feel about their siblings -
John: I am the eldest of six brothers. The last three are relative strangers, as I have entered adulthood while they were still in toddlerhood. All of us have unique personalities, as if we don’t share the same genes and background. While our parents were still alive we used to see each other at least once a year, either on Christmas Day or on the birthday of one of our parents - although one of us would always be absent due to work obligations. At a time two of my brothers were employees in my company, and so we have learned the hard way that the intention of nepotism may be rooted in love and the willingness to support, but the consequences could be, actually are the most of the time, extremely unfortunate. However, we have resolved our problems and until today we maintain the tradition of calling each other on our birthdays. Because we are scattered all over the country, personal visits are unusual. Thanks to Facebook five of us are connected, supporting each other with comments and messages. If ‘friendship’ is defined as ‘being there for each other’, we are indeed friends.
Angelique: I have one sibling. We haven’t spoken in three years, while we were once extremely close. As kids we grew up in tough circumstances. We only had each other. Although both of us got good jobs, and we are healthy, we have entered adulthood as the products of our unfortunate past. Both of us have developed our own way to cope with reality. I have taken responsibility; I had forgiven those who had done me wrong, and ever since then I don’t allow my past or anything/anyone in the present to manipulate me into a state of despair. My sister on the other hand is still a victim, forever trapped in the mud called ‘tough circumstances’. I don’t want to criticize her – she has all the right in the world to maintain her good AND bad relationships and to reject advice and to refuse counselling, and even to be a formidable fighter among her friends and a coward at home, suffering OCD because she can’t manage to get rid of the two-legged dirt in her life. How can we be friends? How can I allow her to torment me with her sad stories? How can I torture myself by knowing all about her suffering and miserable life? I love her, but I also love myself. Speaking to her is poisoning myself. But if she calls me today with a request to help her out of her tough circumstances, I will be with her in a second.
Rachel: I have three remaining siblings. (My favorite two passed away years ago.) I barely speak to my siblings. Way to much drama than I need in my life right now. My friends are my family and my best friends are my siblings.
Inge: I am friends with both my siblings. Me and my sister understand each other so well, we could be twins, and my brother and I share a lot of interests. My bonds with both my siblings are extraordinary special.
Lorraine: My two older sisters have always been my mentors and friends. I am so blessed!
Vonnie: No matter what, I know my sisters and brother will always be there for me.
Martie Kroon: I love my little sister with all of my heart. She is my friend.
Kim Thompson: Me and my brother are a year apart, but when we married, had children, and the military took us to different parts of the world, I think we grew apart. However since we now live near each other, we have grown closer again, as in our older years. There is nothing we will not do for one another. Sometimes we made our spouses bored to tears with our stories from the past. We are friends.
Rika: Oooooooooh, I have the most awesome relationships with all four my siblings, and this includes Martie Coetser, my oldest sister who called me a ‘sharp-tongued brat’ while I was only a cute little girl. And don’t let met tell you about the few discrepancies of opinion we had in adulthood. Fortunately our love for each other keeps us from staying angry at each other for longer than a day. I love my siblings to pieces. I wish I could spend more time with them. When we are together we are always happy, eager to get ourselves updated with all news, teasing each other, feeling sad when we have to say goodbye. I can go on and on, praising my siblings and thank God for the wonderful opportunity to have them in my life.
Bahareh Mahooti: Me and my sister,,, yeah. we are best friends. she's the one. I can't find a perfect answer without going through details, but, believe me, I will sacrifice my life for her to save her from any difficulty and sorrow.
Claude Heinen: I have THE BEST sister in the world. She is my pillar of strength, always there when I need her. We get along like a house on fire and love to make fun of each other. She has a lot of ‘blonde moments’, and I never let any one one of them go unseen.
Jannie: Me and my sister outgrown each other many years ago. She went her way and I went mine. We are not mad at each other; we are actually friends on Facebook. I regard my ex-wife and ex-brother-and-sisters and their children as my ‘siblings’ and also as my friends. Martie Coetser is my ex-wife’s cousin and whether she knows it or not, I also regard her as a sibling and a friend. I am truly happy to be part of this family.
Laura Rogers:My sister and I are twins. We have shared a lot of pain and joys together in our lives. We are best friends because we are there for each other no matter what. Love is in action. We both feel so blessed.
Charl: I have two brothers older than me. We've always got along well, until our mum died five years ago, ten years after our father. Then the oldest one, who handled our mom’s estate, proved to us that he cares only for himself and doesn’t regard the rest of us as his siblings with equal rights. My efforts to communicate with him were unsuccessful. In fact, our relationship went from bad to worse. I can handle the loss of material stuff, but being disregarded and defrauded by my own brother was like a knife in my back. I will never be able to trust him again. Maybe I will be able to forgive him when he contact me and admit that he was unjust, greedy, and selfish.
My own confession: I am the eldest of five. (Three sisters and two brothers.) We most certainly love each other dearly and will support each other immediately to the best of our ability whenever fortune or misfortune strikes. Although we have spontaneously accepted each other while we were still children, we are distinctly dissimilar - one of the main causes of endless disagreements. But our parents never allowed unpleasant disputes; we were encouraged to love each other as we love ourselves and to resolve problems without any delay. We are not in agreement about all issues in life, including religious issues, politics and even about the way children should be raised, but we allow each other our right of individuality, always ready to advice, support, encourage and praise one another. Criticizing is a habit we don’t practice, although we don’t hesitate to stress our personal convictions, as in “I am doing it like this and you have all the right in the world to do it your way.”
My personal perspective on siblings versus friends -
Friendships are like movable assets – it comes, and it may go, it grows, or it may die.
Relationships with siblings are like inherited fixed assets only to be lost during disasters such as acts of God and bankruptcy. (In a spiritual sense bad relationships between siblings would be the result of true psychological issues and spiritual-, moral-, and/or intellectual bankruptcy.)
Sometimes, while we are cruising on the sea of life, having experiences our siblings may not even be able to comprehend, we feel alienated, forgotten by them, sometimes even rejected by them. Then we have to remind ourselves that our siblings are fixed. They are our spiritual home, always there for us. Friends, on the other hand, are cruising with us. They are free to go “home” from time to time and even free to take another cruise in the opposite direction without us, never to be with us ever again.
Relevant Quotes -
"Certainly, people can get along without siblings. Single children do, and there are people who have irreparably estranged relationships with their siblings who live full and satisfying lives, but to have siblings and not make the most of that resource is squandering one of the greatest interpersonal resources you'll ever have." - Jeffrey Kluger
"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." - Desmond Tutu
Adults reuniting with lost parents and siblings risk genetic sexual attraction.
Researchers believe that when family members grow up in close proximity, they develop during the first five years of their lives a reverse sexual imprinting called the Westermarck-Effect in order to become desensitized to later sexual attraction. This phenomenon was first hypothesized by Edvard Westermarck, a Finnish anthropologist, in his book The History of Human Marriage (1891).
When proximity during this critical period (the first five years of our lives) does not occur — for example, where a brother and sister are brought up separately, never meeting one another — they may find one another highly sexually attractive when they meet as adults.
Read more about the Westermarck-Effect here.
National Siblings Day
"Siblings Day (sometimes called National Siblings Day) is a holiday recognized annually in some parts of the United States on April 10, honoring the relationships of siblings. Unlike Mother's Day and Father's Day, it is not federally recognized, though the Siblings Day Foundation is working to change this. Since 1998, the governors of 39 states have officially issued proclamations to recognize Siblings Day in their state." - Wikipedia
In South Africa a day to honour the relationships of siblings does not exist. I would like to justify this by stressing that South African’s take good relationships between siblings for granted. Normal parents just don’t allow their children to hate each other; a bad relationship between siblings is for normal parents one of the most powerful instigators of despair. Only in exceptional cases parents are to blame for a bad relationship between their children, when they had practised favouritism or/and encouraged animosity and antagonism in their home.
© 2014 Martie Coetser
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