About Jealous or Competitive Siblings
Some people are going to reject you, because you shine too bright for them. And that's O.K. Keep shining!
-- Mandy Hale
It Only Takes One Hurting Impression in Childhood
Do you happen to have a sibling who, either quite obviously, or only secretly, can't stand any sign of your success in any area, or the way you look, or talk, sing, whatever? If you do, you are not alone, because the world is full of such brothers and sisters who never established closeness -- due to a silly rivalry that one felt after seeing another one as somehow a "better human being".
Even if your parents never particularly treated you as their favorite, to your sibling every praise you got somehow sounded like one they always wanted to get, but never did.
All your efforts to be close to them turned in vain, while experienced merely as out of a pitiful mercy towards their less impressive selves. It's unfortunate how we get to be seen as one of those types of people with whom our siblings would never become friends, but are stuck with under the same roof.
Now, the earlier mentioned parents who would never treat one kid better than the other is by no means typical in this world where even with the best parental intentions they can't help but slip at one time or another-- and only one such occasion may be enough to do the damage.
Response of the hurt kid may take different routes. They may work hard at beating the "better" one in area where this one is not excelling. Or they may go outright rebellious, seeking -- what's in psychology sometimes called -- "negative strokes".
Namely, a toddler who can't get attention for something good that they do, may start making noise to get yelled at -- for, bad attention is better than no attention. So, such a kid may start being problematic, unconsciously seeking attention as someone who needs a lot of support, "understanding", even pity.
Such kids, after living in the shadow of a "more valuable" brother or sister, one day marry, and if they have a son or a daughter, may unconsciously be driven to be a bad parent -- simply because the history is repeating itself, only with the wife now "being more of a mother than a wife" to him.
Interesting, isn't it, how misery multiplies itself through life.
The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves.
-- William Penn
When Jealousy Turns Almost Sadistic
Here is a real life story about this jealousy of one boy at his younger brother. He was only three years old when his baby brother seemed to be grabbing all the attention in the family. The story goes that at one time he was caught in time while approaching the crib with a long knitting needle.
Then the school years came for both of them, and the younger, let's call him Johnny, brought a delight to home by being a steady A-student -- which the older brother, let's call him Steve, couldn't duplicate. Not knowing how to get better, he took advantage of being stronger, by frequently punching or wrestling down his younger brother.
Their father will soon desert the family for another woman, leaving mother in financial trouble, so that poverty would befall them -- which included their daily menu. Mother hired a farmer to bring every morning a small container with milk for the boys' breakfast.
Steve would drink first out of the whole container, while Johnny was impatiently standing by, waiting. At one such day, Steve was taking extra time, sipping loudly between long pauses, while devilishly smiling at impatient Johnny. And when he was finally done, he pulled one from his nose for a good spit into the rest of the milk. Well, Johnny went to school hungry that day -- while Steve had his moment of triumph, or something.
The story goes on, telling how Johnny was watching his older brother play guitar, then, after a practice of those dozen or so accords made it enough to impress the hell out of girls with his singing voice, sitting at the curb of their street -- not performing publicly.
Then both brothers went to the army for their mandatory service, and Johnny got promoted into a drill sergeant, while Steve had no stripes on his sleeves to brag about. And finally, Johnny emigrated for a better life, while Steve stayed under protection of mother's wing until her death.
Did Johnny do all that with his life "just to show Steve who was a better human being"? Of course not, he was simply following his own star in life -- and the only "side effect" of that was his brother's silly jealousy.
A brother may not be a friend, but a friend will always be a brother.
-- Benjamin Franklin
Not a Little Word of Praise for a Deserving Alice
Then I also heard a story of this girl, the youngest in the pack of seven kids, who was spending her childhood as a Cinderella, helping overworked mother with household chores, while all older siblings had their ways of making mother give up asking for help.
The Fate went crazy, as it often does, to give all her siblings bad marriages with plenty of drama -- while she -- let's call her Alice, married young with her boyfriend of teenage years, to spend many decades to come in love and harmony.
Unlike other siblings, who produced kids and dumped them to mother for babysitting, Alice agreed with her husband to emigrate and seek their home far from all that family drama. And so they did. While still teenage sweethearts they were daydreaming to some day have a boy first, and three years later a girl. And so they did.
After many years, they went for a visit to the old family, and Alice, quite casually, expressed in front of her sisters her pride of raising her kids without anybody's help, despite all hardships that emigrants normally have to face.
Did she hear a word of praise? No, one of her sisters smiled mockingly, turned it around making it look like Alice was "complaining about her hard fate", so she said: "Well, nobody told you to emigrate, it was your idea." They were bad actors while trying to hide their jealousy.
Alice didn't want them jealous, she wanted them at least once in their life to give her, the youngest one, some credit, to say something nice about her life efforts. They never did, such was their jealousy at her good marriage, and her harmonious, happy life.
Te story says, she still has two sisters left of all others in that big family who passed away over the years. One sister living in Switzerland stopped communicating after Alice saw as incorrect all her advertisement about her daughter's "great family life". Out of spite, or embarrassment of being caught in lie, she stopped staying in touch.
The other sister, oldest, in her 80's and very sick, living in California, managed in couple of instanced to mutter at this age how "lucky Alice has been for having such husband and kids".
Allegedly, at every Christmas, Alice never misses to say nice words of memories about her siblings -- but not without a sigh of sadness that they never really established a true closeness. Damn human jealousy!
My sister and I never engaged in sibling rivalry. Our parents weren't that crazy about either one of us.
-- Erma Bombeck
Siblings Are Priceless Friends -- if Some Could Only Have a Heart to See with It
Ever since that Biblical "event" of a jealous Cain murdering his brother Abel over God's favoring Abel's sacrifices over Cain's -- human nature keeps coming up with countless examples of this crazy tendency of not accepting someone's better personal qualities.
Siblings' competition and jealousy is particularly marked in this, materialistically oriented part of the world -- but not exclusive to it. Namely, it doesn't really take a struggling dude to envy his successful brother for his career, but a farmer will also envy his brother for having one cow more than he does.
So, if you happen to be one with a jealous or competing sibling -- trust me, I can truly empathize with you.
And on the other hand, if you happen to be that jealous one, try to be reminded of a couple of things. One -- your sibling was not the one who invited themselves under the same roof with you. Two -- It is not their fault that they were born with certain qualities which you don't possess. Three -- Being only a kid, they had to grow up in that home, they didn't intentionally hang around for years just to keep pissing you off.
People are not "better or worse human beings" -- other than when they are evil. We are simply different. Loving and respecting ourselves is something that we owe to ourselves in the first place -- before expecting from others to pin a label with a value on our sensitive asses.
Well, be that proverbial "bigger man", and if you still have that sibling, don't wait for them to pass away, so that one day you may shed a tear of regret on a family album. Siblings are priceless friends, but we have to do our part to make it true for us.
© 2020 Vladimir Karas