Saturday, July 5, 2008

Start Healing Relationships with Your Siblings

From “The Emotional Incest Syndrome” by Patricia Love with Jo Robinson.. Exploring the dynamics of covert (emotional or non-sexual but gender-related) incest.

From pages 193 – 194:

The Singular Nature of Sibling Dynamics

[T]here are some dynamics that are peculiar to siblings. First, it may behoove you to examine how your birth order influences your behavior. Just because you were the youngest child doesn't mean that Thanksgiving can never be at your house; the few years between you and older siblings make little difference now that you're adults. Similarly, just because you're the oldest child and the only one in the family with a dining room table that seats twelve doesn't mean you have to be in charge of all family functions – even if you've done so for the past twenty-five years... Everyone may benefit from a change. There's no need to stay locked into a position that is detrimental to you and to others.

Second, if you have strained relationships with your siblings, your instinct may be to cut yourself off from them. You may have the desire to move across the continent and drastically limit your contact. But because you and your siblings are contemporaries, there is the strong possibility that you will have to deal with one another in the future. You may need to cooperate in the care of an aging parent, for example, or work out details surrounding a family death. Your children may want access to their aunts and uncles, and you may want to play a positive role in the lives of your nieces and nephews. You may even come to depend on a sibling in your old age. Having the courage to initiate a reconciliations now will eliminate conflict further down the road.

Third, brothers and sisters tend to get embroiled in protracted battles about “who is right.” This could be a carryover from the early days when fairness and equal treatment from Mom and Dad were so important and determining who was right and wrong seemed a matter of life and death. Now that you're adults, you have to decide which is more important: being right or being close...

Take a look at the issues that divide your family. Are they worth fighting over? Are they a matter of pride and saving face? Did they have their roots in a previous generation? Are they due to the way your parents treated you, a matter over which you had little control? Could it be time for you to pretend that you're all grown up and let bygones be bygones?

Excerpt from
Dr. Patricia Love's
The Emotional Incest Syndrome:
What to Do When a Parent's Love Rule's Your Life
Bantam Books, 1990