7 Challenges That Put Pressure On Adult Sibling Relationships

How should you deal with adult sibling relationships?

Improving sibling relationships involves recognizing key components.

Sibling relationships may include affection, ambivalence, and ambiguity.

Adult Sibling Relationships
Adult Sibling Relationships

Gaining insight, establishing boundaries when necessary, and considering rewriting family narratives can address sibling strain.

Researching adult sibling relationships and working with individuals facing sibling challenges has convinced me that therapists should be mindful of 7 key issues.

Adults with siblings can benefit from awareness of these issues to enhance their time together.

An infographic on adult sibling relationships

7 Challenges That Put Pressure On Adult Sibling Relationships

1.Sibling relationships endure throughout life.

They typically outlast relationships with parents, partners, children, and friends.

Repairing strained sibling relationships is often crucial for overall well-being, especially when cooperation between siblings becomes necessary for caregiving responsibilities, such as looking after aging parents or each other.

Also Read: The Enigma of Cleopatra: Did She Really Murder Her Sibling?

2.COVID-19 may have strained sibling relationships.

Responsibilities for caring for parents may have shifted unevenly due to pandemic-related constraints, potentially exacerbating existing imbalances.

Travel restrictions or concerns about virus transmission could have further complicated the situation, particularly if one sibling bore a disproportionate burden.

3.Therapists often overlook adult sibling relationships in treatment.

Despite being trained in parent-child and spousal dynamics, many therapists lack training in and awareness of the significance of sibling relationships.

Neglecting to address these relationships in therapy can lead to missed opportunities to support the family system comprehensively.

Including siblings when mapping an adult’s family dynamics is essential.

Also Read: Green Card For Siblings: Can A Green Card Holder Sponsor Siblings?

4.Adult sibling relationships are often complex.

While many individuals express affection for their siblings, others experience ambivalence.

It’s common for sibling relationships to be characterized by mixed feelings, as acknowledged in the literature.

Therapists should normalize these feelings to prevent individuals from feeling inadequate if their relationship doesn’t match an idealized image.

5.Ambiguity permeates sibling relationships.

Understanding others, and even ourselves, can be challenging.

Siblings we’ve studied and those I’ve counseled often express confusion about each other’s behavior.

Questions like why they’re affectionate towards Dad despite past treatment or why they chose their spouse arise.

When one sibling’s actions are unclear, it can lead to increased ambivalence and communication difficulties.

6.Avoid fixating on sibling birth order.

While older and younger siblings may exhibit different behaviors and middle siblings might feel overlooked, reliable data on this is scarce beyond anecdotal evidence.

Variability abounds due to factors like gender, sibling count, age gaps, and evolving parental circumstances.

7.Family therapy theories offer insights into addressing sibling issues.

Murray Bowen’s work suggests examining sibling relationships across generations.

Close relationships between parents and their siblings tend to foster sibling closeness in their children.

Understanding the origin of difficult sibling dynamics, such as a mother cutting off contact with her siblings, can provide valuable lessons for breaking patterns.

Structural Family Therapy emphasizes identifying and respecting sibling boundaries, preventing parental interference, and facilitating direct communication between siblings.

Narrative Therapy encourages exploring the narratives we uphold about sibling relationships, considering neglected aspects that may hold keys to improvement, and shaping a positive legacy for future generations.

By actively addressing these aspects, sibling relationships can be nurtured and strengthened, fostering mutual understanding, boundary-setting, and a positive outlook for the future during challenging times.

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