Siblings versus Friends

© Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser

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.

Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net
Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

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 and her sister, Mecé
© Inge and her sister, Mecé
© Lorraine's two sisters, (Vonnie (left) & Sandra)
© Lorraine's two sisters, (Vonnie (left) & Sandra)
© Claude and his sister
© Claude and his sister
© Laura and her twin, Linda
© Laura and her twin, Linda
©  Bahareh and her sister, Niloofar
© Bahareh and her sister, Niloofar

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.

© Martie Coetser
© Martie Coetser

Conclusion:

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


Interesting phenomenon:

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.

artur84 @ freedigitalphotos.net
artur84 @ freedigitalphotos.net

© 2014 Martie Coetser

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Comments 77 comments

btrbell profile image

btrbell 2 years ago from Mesa, AZ

What a great, comprehensive hub! I love the way you formatted it. It was interesting, informative and touching! I had never heard of Siblings Day until this year...and only on Facebook. Thank you fire sharing the lovely pictures of your beautiful family! Great hub! Up++


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

Awesome perspective on the unique relationships between siblings. Some people can't live without their siblings, while some have no problem moving on. Fabulous hub!!


tsmog profile image

tsmog 2 years ago from Escondido, CA

Loved the whole hub. The many perspectives and takes offered a lot of pondering on the hubs theme. Worth the read and time pondering. I agree with your conclusions regarding 'friendships' and siblings. I like the concept of Sibling Day too. Thank You MartieC!

tim


kimmie 2 years ago

Dearest Martie,

You have done such a beautiful job writing about siblings and friendships Siblings do have the potential to be a part of the best of both world's...friends and family members. I do believe it is an unconditional type love recognizing we are made uniquely different and we must try to embrace our strengths, faults, differences, and most of tolorable of our many shortcomings. Siblings are a gift from God. Thank you for writing a wonderful hub.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 2 years ago from Central Florida

Very interesting article, Martie. My brother and I had a falling out in March of this year and I haven't heard from him since. It breaks my heart. Even my mom is not talking to me. She refuses to allow me to tell my side of the story. I hope this all blows over soon. It's very sad to have your support system shun you without 1) listening to the other side and 2) placing blame for your own actions on someone else.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi btrbell - thanks for being first to leave a comment :) Down here we are still being paralyzed by life-threatening issues such as crime and ineffective governments and municipalities, etc., we take our siblings and friends and actually all that is good for granted. So, for us a National Sibling Day appears to be a 1st World thing. But keeping in mind that 'charity (education, etc.etc) begins at home", a National Siblings Day should be introduced.... all over the world.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a very interesting hub, Martie. Adding the quotes from people about their siblings was a great idea. I have one sister. We've always been friends. When we were children, though, I used to think that if we hadn't been in the same family we wouldn't have sought each other out because we were so different. As adults we are very close, however.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Sunshine - my siblings means the world to me. Their disapproval, even indifference, hurts like hell, while the opposite delights. I think it takes a lot of anger (our reaction on hurt/pain) and courage to build a wall between oneself and undesirable siblings :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

I am glad I read this, Martie. I didn't even know there was a National Siblings Day on April 10. This is quite an interesting article, Martie and I found it quite informative. I like the interviews you did with the different people. I only have one sister and I love her dearly, although we are more acquaintances than true friends. She is very competitive and I am not so there is our big difference and sometimes it creates a wedge between us. But, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for her in a pinch. I don't know how she feels about me, exactly, but I just carry on and try to be the good big sis. LOL!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, tsmog - I am an accountant, I can relate to the fixed asset / movable (current) asset concept. Take care tsmog :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Kimmie - I've been "cruising" with my sister Rika for many years. We worked in the same office for the same boss. So, she was sibling, friend, co-worker all in one. Her loyalty and support was unbeatable. Since she left, I feel weaker and kind of unprotected. Fortunately only until the poo hits the fan, then I re-discover my own strength. Thanks a lot for your input :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Bravewarrior - 'support system' is just the word for siblings. Oh, Shauna, I can imagine your pain. Personally I don't have any respect for people who refuse to clear misunderstanding and/or resolve problems via open communication. They are but only proving that they prefer hating above loving. They also prove that they know deep inside that they can't justify their argument(s). Just hold on to your dignity, my friend, and open your door when they knock on it. Hopefully soon.... (Blaming others is pointing one finger to them, one upwards to heaven and three back to oneself.)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Alicia - I think Nature prepares us for adulthood by forcing us to live with different characters in a loving environment for at least 18 years. How will we be able to work and live with others if we don't have any experience? Of course, we are able to do anything we have to do, but more difficult if we don't have any experience. Good to know you and your sister are very close :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Suzette - I was very competitive. But somehow my second sister did not allow me to intimidate her. She had my parents behind her - in all fairness - and thereafter her very loving and supportive husband. Even though I was overbearing, being me - bossy, opinionated and apparently very self-assured - she was able to keep me out of her self-esteem. I am chuckling now, as I remember something she said to me in a moment of self-defense: "I can do everything you do.... IF I want to." Then, too, I couldn't help but laugh (surprised), observing her determination to be herself just the way she is. But so I have obtained a lot of respect for her. She's been happy throughout her life, being phlegmatic and not competitive, while I, swimming up-stream all the time, searching for challenges, have burnt my proverbial fingers to frazzles.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

I guess I am 'me' also. LOL! My sister doesn't intimidate me, but I tire of competition all the time. But, I do love her to death, probably because she is the opposite of me and I find her interesting.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Martie. This is a wonderful hub. It tells us how uniquely similar we are as we have all these shared experinences in our collective lives. I found out a great deal about my remaining brother and sister this year. Plenty of tough times for all of us and plenty of tough people facing those challenges and sharing our strength.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Oops. Came back to Vote, to Tweet, to share, and what-not.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

Hello Martie. Your hub is excellent in scope and detail. It brings back memories. I was the last of twelve siblings. Each one unique and different. They were all gone from home when i was born, some had families, others off working in the city. I didn't grow up in a big family, but the times we all got together were wonderful. My cousins were more like my siblings. I agree that siblings are close and will always be, no matter what. We all have different views, politically and our religious beliefs differ, but we respect each other's without hesitation. Great topic. Hugs.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Suzette, I believe my sister will say the same about me. I wrote a memo some years ago, guessing what my siblings think about me. Guessing, because I don't really know. A bad thing among siblings - they don't really tell each other what they really think about each other. At least, this is the case in my family. As much as we don't criticize each other, we don't compliment/praise each other, although we do praise them in their absence. Rika (my 3rd sister) is an exception. She has no guards on her lips. Here is a link to the memo - https://www.facebook.com/notes/martie-coetser-pozy...


kallini2010 profile image

kallini2010 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Dear Martie, you did a wonderful job!

As you know, I don't have any siblings and I can't add much to the subject.

You are blessed!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Mckbirdbks - I believe all people ARE happy and contented when they are living in harmony with their siblings and when they are free to contact each other whenever they want, and they DO feel kind of unfulfilled, uncomfortable, sad, or what could be the correct word, when they lost contact or when there are negative vibes between them. I am glad to know about your break-through with yours. After all, we are all humans. Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

Thanks for coming back to do all those what-have-you's :))


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 2 years ago from Taos, NM

Martie: I checked out your link. What you did is amazing and I left a comment there.


Hackslap profile image

Hackslap 2 years ago from Sydney, Australia

I don't have siblings so won't comment specifically about them..but in general I do feel your friends are sometimes more reliable and trustworthy than your family members...and I can say that from personal experience and am sure there're many who think the same..


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Kallini - I think lonesomeness is forever the most challenging feeling for an only-child to overcome. We have more guts (courage) when we know we have a sibling or three to protect us, or to team up with us when we have to break through a barrier that was set up by parents. Now I have to share this quote with you: "Friends are the siblings God never gave us." Mencius. I am so happy to be your friend and adopted sibling online :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks, Suzette, I will check it out asap :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hackslap - Siblings tend to take each other for granted. They don't really care that much about each other's feelings while they are secure in their family zone. It is a matter of 'we are all in the same boat; the strongest will survive." So each and everyone has to protect his own seat on the boat, and sometimes an older or younger sibling will give them the support they need. But against outsiders, they form a team, and when Life hits one on the nose, the others will embrace him and allow him to recover.

Friends on the other hand don't take each other for granted. Because no relationship is perfect, our friends fill the gaps our siblings cannot fill in the closed zone created by parents. We also don't need to protect our "seat" in a friendship, because in the capacity of a friend we own our own boat - one we use when we leave our siblings temporarily, or permanently as an adult.

On our own boat we invite friends, or we spend time with friends on their boat. Oh, we may cruise in the same boat, but we are not compelled to do it. It is really another scenario. Friends and siblings - the two relationships - are two distinct phenomenons. A sibling can be our friend as well, but a friend can never be our sibling. Although I know friends who feel like identical twins - the Davids and Jonathans. I myself have an online friend/sista who is closer to me than any other person on this planet. Now this is another phenomenon: The bonding of spirits/souls - a connection with one's own soul via another soul. (A topic for another hub.)

But you have a point. In many cases our friends are more reliable and trustworthy than our siblings, but only because they are closer, sharing our interests. We automatically push the closest buttons, whether they are the buttons of friends or siblings.

Sorry, but I had to explain....


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean

I thoroughly enjoyed the various inputs on the topic of siblings versus friends. I hve no siblings and I am jealous of sibling relationships, even of those who fight. Your article was treat, giving the views of so mny siblings. Thank you.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 2 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Martie,

What a thought provoking subject -- well developed with your personal perspective and feedback from a wide circle of people.

I am the youngest of a total of four siblings. There is a range of 8 to 15 years between me and my two brothers, while my only sister is 10 years my senior. We are each as different as the four seasons. While we are by no means in constant contact, I know we can all count on each other in the rough times.

Blood is no guarantee of compatibility, obvious in example after example. How wonderful that we all have the opportunity to 'hand pick' our friends... so glad I picked you!

Voted UP and UABI. Love you, Maria


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 2 years ago from Minnesota

Hi Martie-I see my twin sister is part of this awesome and informative hub. I seriously don't know what I'd do without my twinner. She is my best friend and soul mate.

Every family has it's issues to deal with, but I do think when a sib needs help, the other siblings have a natural tendency to want to be there for them. Sis and I are from a family of five. Sis and I are the youngest of the brood-There are family patterns with us: The older two sibs (girl and boy) hang out a lot and tend to pit against the rest. My sister Laura, and brother, who was one year older, were very close until he died because of addiction and an overdose. Now the 3 youngest are now the 2 youngest. (sis and I). I try really hard to deal with some of the older sibs shenanigans, but I have to know where to draw the line in regards to boundaries and taking care of myself. The basic deal is that the older sibs don't take the younger sibs seriously. It hurt like hell for years but I have come a long way and don't play into it. I think a big part of the difficult family dynamics is due to our difficult childhood. If you don't work on the past in some way, you seem to stay stuck in the muck. Anyhoo, thanks for writing such an interesting and helpful hub. Love MT. P.S.-if you'd like to use any of my comment in Laura's piece above, feel free. She didn't understand the depth of what you were writing about. I just read this to her and if you choose to add this piece, we both are fine with it.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

@ MsDora - When I was a child I envied everybody and all who didn't have siblings. I envied them their privacy, space, all the material stuff they had, their 'privilege' to not having to share their belongings, and to get what they want whenever they want it. My 2nd sister and I would not get a pair of socks if the other one could not also get a pair of socks. The same 'fairness' was practised on the three little ones - if one gets something, the other two have to get it too, or nobody gets anything, although, Rika, the only girl among them, got spoiled. Oh, she could get away with murder :)

@ MAR & Minnetonka - Time to run to work. I'll be back this afternoon with replies and to add some of MT"s comment to the hub :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Always - I had to delete my original reply to you, because I had my facts wrong. Here goes -

Wow! The last of 12! My mother was the 6th of 9. There were more, but they had died while they were babies. Croup was a killer those days. My father was the oldest of 6. So, I know what it is like to have MANY aunts and uncles and cousins. And now to know all the nieces and nephews and their children! I have most of them on my Facebook, and I feel as old as dirt when I look at their beautiful pictures. Oh, we are proud of our siblings and of our entire family, are we not? We want to be proud, therefore we feel sad when relationships are for some reason not smooth. Thanks for sharing yours, Ruby :)


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I have a much younger brother and a baby sister she is twenty five and my brother is 27 we have such a great relationship. I miss them but plan to visit in two years. I really enjoyed reading this hub. I like the photos Voted up and interesting.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

Wonderful hub and you have done it in such an innovative way!

I liked the points you have mentioned. I believe siblings are always there for you. That' s the reason sometimes they take each other for granted. As a result some misunderstandings may crop up. But everything will be fine if there is healthy communication and space. As we grow up, our egos also grow up and if this comes in between, there are chances of tension in the sibling to sibling relationships. Therefore this should be particularly avoided.

Friends are also very much necessary for a person's overall growth and shaping up of the personality.

Siblings can be best friends too.

Thanks for writing on a topic which is quite close to my heart.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 2 years ago

I was adopted into a family with 7 children. I was 7 when the rest were all grown. I always felt loved and part of the family until my biological mother moved back in town. After that, my support network of family deteriorated into nothing because she made sure of it. She was extremely jealous of the relationships I had. To this day, I don't acknowledge most of the family because of the issues that have come up since my mother moved back.

Siblings can be either the most loving people in our lives, or the most crushing. I stopped trying to seek acceptance from my "siblings" years ago, knowing that my true friends are the ones that love me for who I am, not in what family I was born.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

marcoujor – Seems to me you were more in the position of an only child, as it goes with a last child who doesn’t fall in the same age-bracket as her older siblings. I know you have had a very close relationship with your mother, so I believe she had played the roll of mother as well as older sister in the same age-bracket in your life. Blood is certainly not a guarantee of compatibility, and obviously genes have a way to determine a person's personality like those hundred balls in a lottery machine determine a winner. Then environmental factors and the influence of others do the rest.

Mar, you are more than a sister/friend to me; you are myself in my thoughts – the myself I am “talking” to all the time – Myself opposed to I and Me. This character (myself) miraculously also exists in another body (yours) living in another part of the world. One of those inexplicable phenomena. Maybe the answer lies in Quantum Physics :)

FYI, I have a golden star on my forehead :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Minnetonka Twin – For siblings to form ‘teams’ comes quite naturally. The older ones against the younger ones. My second sister and I were a team, sharing responsibilities and ‘suffering’ the same discipline. The two youngest – both boys – were a team. And in between was Rika, who could get away with murder. But as adults we are all equal, although it took me about fifty years to realize that my little brothers were no longer children. (Oldest child syndrome!) It is really a matter of growing up in the same house, but at the same time in different worlds, considering the influence of our peers and also the emotional and intellectual growth of our parents, as they become wiser and less determined to raise perfect children while they grow older. The influence of peers, fashion, current trends, individual interests, etc., can certainly cause alienation between siblings. But how wonderful to have a twin, growing all the way with you.

Interesting phenomenon: Your twin was closer to your older brother than you were to him. This indicates human’s natural tendencies to form pairs. (Two is company, three is a crowd.) Of course, as we live we could be one of more than one pair – in friendship, in business, in marriage, etc.

Sorry, Minnetonka, I am talking too much. But your comment gives wings to my thoughts. Thanks for your insightful comment, I am going to add some of it to the hub before the end of the day.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

DDE – The saying, ‘Absence makes the heart grows fonder’ seems to be applicable in your situation. How wonderful to have a visit to look forward to :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

ChitrangadaSharan – I have to repeat your statement, because this is surely the recipe for successful relationships between siblings. “Everything will be fine if there is healthy communication and space.” We don’t need to communicate on a daily basis, but the channels must be open and clear to enable communication whenever anyone has a need for it. We should also respect each other’s space – not intrude when we know our sibling is busy with work, friends, or an interest we don’t share. Siblings should know their place in each other’s lives.

I must admit that I can be downright rude when one of my siblings turns up for a ‘surprise’ visit, while they should have kept my personal calendar in mind and also my moods. I remember in the 70’s and 80’s, and surely before as well, turning up for visits without an appointment was the order of the day. That norm became outdated in my country in the 90’s. “Call, make sure your sibling and/or friend is available and prepared for a personal visit,” is but only good manners and etiquette.

Thank you so much for your insightful comment.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 2 years ago from Minnesota

Love your wonderful comment back to me. This whole sibling thing is so simple yet so complicated. The roles we all play, especially if there has been trauma. So you were the older team in your family and I was the younger team. You probably totally understand the concept of how the two older sibs didn't want to take the younger ones seriously. It literally drove me crazy for years but it has definitely gotten better. I look at some of the choices I made in my life and know that part of them was wanting to be taken seriously; for example getting my Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. Don't get me wrong, Psychology is a total fit for my personality but I also think subconsciously I wanted to be taken seriously.

I think you misunderstood the part of the teams. Laura wasn't closer to the oldest two sibs (girl and boy). Laura, David and I were the youngest three. Dave was only one year older than sis and I so we had more in common and did more things together. The three of us even looked alike. We also all loved music, singing and all the artsy fartsy stuff. I so miss him but he is in a better place. Sis and I actually didn't talk to him much over the last years because of his addiction, but that didn't mean we didn't love him. This topic is so interesting I could go on and on, but I will end with this. LOL


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

CraftytotheCore – Siblings can indeed be either the most loving people in our lives, or the most crushing. I am so very sorry your biological mother has ruined your relationships with your adopted siblings. That was the very last thing that should have happened. Gosh, this is a complicated psychology study of another colour. Glad to know that you are not trying to seek acceptance – a proof that you are emotional independent. There is a saying, “Don’t lower yourself to the level of a fool. He will beat you with experience.”


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Minnetonka - I have had the same need for the better part of my life: To be acknowledged for who I am. Even while I was the oldest, my parents treated me like a child. Oh, I was a child in the eyes of an adult, but I was ready to know and learn more than my younger siblings. Parents tend to misjudge the intelligence of their oldest child. Then I married a man who wanted me to stay 16 for the rest of my life. So, I know exactly what you mean with 'wanted to be taken seriously." I just remembered my youngest brother's outraged reaction when he was 18 and I explained something to him as if he was still 8 years old. "Listen," he said, "for in case you haven't noticed, I have grown taller than you. You may as well call me Sir."

In my mind I saw Laura closer to David than you were to David. But I now have a better picture - almost that of triplets, and evidently the only boy, or girl, will be more on their own. He may have 'suffered' the middle-child syndrome - among others that feeling of being the odd-one-out, which could have made him more amenable to drug addiction. Such a tragedy. I can but only imagine how devastated I would be if David were my brother. But what can we do? We cannot live our sibling's lives.

Psychology is the most interesting science! Thanks for coming back and expanding my perception, Minnetonka :)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I don't know how I missed this. Well, I only had one sister, and we weren't speaking when she died in 2006. I guess that speaks volumes. :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

So sad, billybuc, to pass away with an unresolved issue with a sibling on one's conscience. I don't think I will be able to R.I.P. Your story looks like a hub that should be written? Glad you came :)


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Look at you there with all of your lovely siblings. Great photos! I am sorry I am late in reading here, as I missed it somehow in my mess of hundreds of e-mails : (

But, I am here now! I am the oldest of four siblings, as I may have stated somewhere before. My brother is one year younger than I, then one sister is five years younger, and then the other sister is ten years younger. Growing up, I felt more like a mother to my sister who is ten years younger. And then I was married and moved away when she was just nine years old. But it seems when we were all over the age of 30, everything evened-out as we were all adults. Strange, as there doesn't seem to be the matter of age difference now.

As always, you have covered a topic thoroughly. I love your personal perspective and "confession" here. So true, friends may come and go, but we will always have our family, even if we may not be in close contact each and everyday. Then, on the other hand, some friends are closer than a brother or sister may be, but then again, nothing can take away the fact that bond that is family with all the good, the bad and even the ugly. Plus, the experiences of growing up and going through life together (if that was the case).

My two granddaughters were talking with me the other weekend when they were up and the oldest one told me (while laughing) that her younger sister just told her that she was her best friend. I told her that was precious and sisters can very well be best friends in this life. Then I told her that the difference between a friend and a sister is that no matter what, she will always be your sister, whether or not she is your best friend. And sometimes in life, our other friends may come and go and no longer be our friends for whatever reasons, but she will know she still has a little sister and ....brother too. She seemed to be happy with that conversation.

With our families, we have that bond (well, most do) just for the mere fact of growing up together and experiencing our childhood, including the sibling rivalry, the hard times and the best of times together.

When my mother died in 2012 right before Christmas, my siblings and I talked about growing up and we learned so many different things about our mother from each sibling and each experience we had with our mother was so different, and that amazed me. Each time we talk, we share something from our childhood about our mother, that the other did not know, and we are always amazed that, although we were all there growing up with the same mother, we each had our own special relationship and different experiences due to our age and stages in life with our mother.

Wonderful hub and insight as always.

Up and more, tweeting, pinning and sharing.

(((Hugs))) and much love.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Faith, thank you so much for your lovely, generous comment. Is it not amazing how siblings tend to experience their parents in a unique way. When I listen to my siblings' perceptions I sometimes think their parents were not the same as mine. Yet, somehow the basic impressions run through all like a golden thread. I think chemical interactions is the reason why we tend to cherish unique perceptions/perspectives. This is also the reason why one person can be a horrible spouse for one, but a true darling for another. Take care, dear Faith :)


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Yes, I have thought that very same thing, and even told my youngest sister that she did not have the same parents as I did growing up lol. Being I was the eldest, they were so strict on me. Then after I left home and married, etc., and would come home for visits, I would see her off doing things I never would have even thought they would allow when I was growing up. I think maybe parents may grow a bit weary and learn to relax about things after the fourth child? lol

Hugs for a lovely Monday. I am enjoying the day off this day : )


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Faith, we are certainly in the same boat. The oldest child is often the guinea pig, subjected to the hopes and expectations of their parents, and woe them if they don't manage to be a good role-model, while the rest have more freedom to be simply themselves. Somehow I will always regret my shortcomings, which were actually but only during my teen-phase a rebellious urge to challenge authority. None of my other siblings developed this particular urge. Take care, dear Faith :)


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 2 years ago

So very sweet to read. And such a beautiful family! I am the baby of four sisters and a brother. I know we too have times when we are the best of friends. And then there are those times when I wonder if they are really worth all my heart ache. I guess, we take the good with the bad.

Shared, tweeted and Up! Blessings and joy for you and your family. :-)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Jo, good to see you. Yes, it is truly a matter of 'love them for better or worse'. It is so much easier to love our siblings when they make us proud than to love them when they embarrass us and complicate our lives. Thank you so much for your visit and comment :)


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Very interesting hub. I never heard of National Siblings Day until now. Both of siblings are extremely different from me in worldviews, more alike to one another than with me, but we find a way. I have a very strained relationship with my sister but my brother and I make it work. I particularly enjoy his children and they, me. I like how you provided a range of perspectives in your hub, from distant and barely tolerating to lovey dovey and solid as a rock. And the photos are great, too.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

FlourishAnyway – I think the difference in personalities of children having the same genes is quite a phenomenon. So sorry to hear that your relationship with your sister is not 100%. This is a situation too sad to comprehend. Thanks so much for your visit. I am doing some random reading today, and was glad to stumble upon you :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Sorry to have missed this one Martie, fascinating read! its strange really because all the time my brother lived at home with my mum and dad we never really mixed, we were friendly when we saw each other but that was it, but since they have gone we get on famously! lol! we laugh so much, and go out all the time, when we were brother and sister, it was just that, now we are friends and its great! so I can say yes friends too! and I agree with you, friends come and go, but siblings are there for life, hopefully, nell


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Nell, I have noticed this scenario - when a sibling lives with parents they are somewhat invisible in the shade of the parents, until they upset the parents.. then they have to please and explain. I am so glad you and your brother are friends :)


Jason R. Manning profile image

Jason R. Manning 2 years ago from Sacramento, California

What an interesting hub, one for which I can only view and comment on as a bystander. Both my wife and I are only children, whereas our parents all have multiple siblings on all sides. Having grown up close to my uncles and aunts, it is sad to see how time and circumstances have created personality divides. I have retained a relationship with my best friend despite us moving in different states. I do not see this with most of the siblings of my parents. We choose our friends, however like the cliché, we cannot choose our parents, let alone siblings. It is one thing to honor and love our parents as commanded by scripture, but we are to be nothing more than our brother’s keeper which dramatically changes the relationship. I can only add that chemistry matters more than blood. Great topic and very well laid out, your hub was fun to read, thank you for sharing.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi, Jason! Thank you so much for your generous comment. Apparently distance between siblings relieve them of the responsibility to be "their brother's keeper". As you know, distance doesn't need to be measurable in miles; individual interests, religious and political convictions, etc. can create distance, and sometimes unbridgeable. We see the proof of this when both parents - one strong mutual interest - are no longer in the land of the living - some siblings simply drift apart only to see each other perhaps again at a funeral. But still, the bond between them, whether it is strengthened by love, or twisted by hatred, does not disintegrate. I do believe it is better for an only child to marry an only child. They both feel the same about privacy, space, giving and receiving, etc.; they understand and accommodate each other better. In my opinion an only-child is emotional more independent, used to be alone, used to rely only on themselves, as they have conquered the feeling of loneliness very early in their lives, or maybe they have never even experienced it and had just accepted the fact that they are alone, though willing to establish bonds with friends and cousins. Thanks again for your kind comment.


Jason R. Manning profile image

Jason R. Manning 2 years ago from Sacramento, California

Hi Martie, you hit the nail on the head, you certainly are wise. My wife and I are very well suited for each other specifically for the reasons you state. We do have some very interesting conversations after visiting family and listening to the sibling bickering. Both my wife and I have no close cousins either, you could say we (especially me) possess a certain kind of impatience with getting things done, or with making travel decisions. You also rightly pointed out early loneliness issues and overcoming only child among adults development. One distinct characteristic of this type of childhood came with humor and vocabulary development, I often surprised my teachers with what came out of my mouth, lol. I am sure psychologist would have fun identifying the many differences and idiosyncrasies among only children versus kids with multiple siblings. Thank you again.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Jason, what about writing a hub about the differences between only children versus children with siblings? In my capacity as the eldest of 5, I may even add some differences you haven't yet noticed. I would love to add the link to my hub. In the meanwhile, have a great day :)


epigramman profile image

epigramman 2 years ago

Well my sweetest dearest Martie I've been in this world for 56 years now and I can truthfully say that not many birthdays of mine were as memorable as the one a couple of weeks ago when I heard your lovely voice in a audio message. It reminded me of our phone conversation a few years back and I thank you sincerely for making my birthday a happy one indeed.

Yes, siblings, well I was a spoiled only child and there are pros and cons in my situation - once again Martie you prove yourself to be a worthy world class journalist who walks the walk and talks the talk and I have always admired you for your intelligence , passion and probing style of writing. I am sending warm wishes to you and Mister B and your entire family from Colin and his cats Tiffy and Gabriel - and now I know why Neil Diamond wrote music - he heard your voice and was inspired - Canada time 3:54pm Thursday


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Epigramman, I am so glad you enjoyed the video I have sent you. Good to see you are still up and about with Tiffy and Gabriel. At present I am overloaded with work and all kinds of obligations in real life. By the time everything is taken care of, I am too exhausted to go online. Just doing the most essential to the best of my ability. Will be seeing you around :)


joedolphin88 profile image

joedolphin88 2 years ago from north miami FL

Really great idea for a hub, well written.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This thought-inspiring hub has me thinking about the different phases that have happened between me and my siblings. I found your interviews to be enlightening in that they pinpointed the wide range of differences people feel toward their kin. Even trying to capture a snip of those childhood feelings has made me realize how ambivalent my thoughts on the subject remain. My older sister and I were estranged for nearly 20 years due to a misunderstanding between us. My biggest regret is those years we wasted barely communicating.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York

You can't pick your family but you can pick your friends....for many that says it all.

I really liked your approach of interviewing others and sharing your personal experiences. Your writing talents shine through!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Thank you, Joe :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Peg, sadly many siblings find it too easy to be angry at each other. As if they are trying to prove to each other their individual rights and independence. We are also more outspoken towards our siblings, sharing our opinions without a second thought. When I were younger I rebuked and criticized my siblings as if I had the right to do it. It boggles my mind that they just took the punch and kept on loving me. Today I know I hurt them unnecessary; I wanted them to be perfect according to my self-centered idea of perfect. I think one way or the other, all of us have regrets. Good to know you and your sister are once again on speaking terms.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Tillsontitan, a thought just crossed my mind: If we were able to love and support our siblings hundred percent, and if they were able to return our love and support hundred percent, we would not need any friends. Imagine! Obviously Nature wants us to 'leave our siblings in peace' in order to befriend people outside the family-box.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 2 years ago from Dubai

Interesting read and a great perspective on relationships between siblings. As you say parents should not instigate any jealously between siblings and behave responsibly. My sister, brother and me get along well and we are great friends!! Great hub, voted up.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 2 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

This is a fascinating hub. I have 2 siblings and we are really close. Although there are differences we make sure it does not get in the way. Filipinos have close family ties and we make sure that our family stays close.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Vellur, thanks for leaving a supportive comment. I do believe that parents play a major role when it comes to the establishing of good relationships between siblings. Good to know you and your siblings get along well :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

jpcmc - I can imagine the wonderful atmosphere at your family rallies :)


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 2 years ago

I can sit here and say that my siblings are not my friends. we never get along and I always feel like I can never go to them about anything. I've tried before with no success. thanks for the article, it was enlightening.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Dear torrilynn, I truly believe that not being friends with our siblings is a source of sadness and discontentment. How sad to know that love has failed to establish a strong bond between us and the people who are sharing our genes. Somewhere something must have went wrong, and "WHY/WHERE/WHEN" will be the first questions in the mind of an outsider, while broken bonds between friends are likely to be taken for granted. Discord between me and my siblings will keep me unhappy until we manage to restore our bonds.

Thank you so much for being honest. I hope with all my heart you have many wonderful friends and no time to mourn the absence of your siblings.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 2 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Martie, some get along famously with their siblings while some do not and some back stab theirs.

I detest those who can be friends with others but sever relations with their siblings for no fault of theirs, absolutely.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Rajan, sadly it is difficult to trust the friendship of a person who is not able to love (and respect) their own blood (siblings). Yes, siblings will have disagreements - naturally - but the proof of their ability to love others as they love themselves lies in the way they treat their siblings regardless of their disagreements. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking,..." (One of the most profound chapters in the Bible - 1 Corinthians 13). How can we not truly love our siblings? Thanks for visiting and commenting :)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Wonderful hub. I enjoyed reading everyone's perspectives. I have 3 brothers, and we make it every year to holiday times at both my mom's and dad's homes (divorced when we were kids). We're a pretty close-knit family, with my younger brothers living near me. We get together often and have a great time. They're definitely my friends.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 2 years ago from South Africa Author

Victoria, when our siblings are our friends, adversaries seem to be easier to cope with. I am glad yours are also your friends :)


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 18 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

What a lovely post Martie. I have one sister and we are very close. She lives in Holland but we text almost every day. We have absolutely nothing in common, but we have an unconditional love for each other and will do anything possible to help each other in need.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 18 months ago from South Africa Author

Dear Nadine, how wonderful to be so close to your sister in Holland. Now I feel guilty because I don't contact my siblings as often as I should. I have had the privilege of working in the same office with one of my sisters for almost 6 years. It was wonderful to see her every day. She was such a pillar of strength. Fortunately she is still around - only 15 minutes away from me :)

Have a good day, Nadine!

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