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Digital Subscriptions > Psychologies > No. 135 Stop Sibling Rivalry > BROTHERS & SISTERS


Where would we be without family? If your answer is ‘living with less drama’ or ‘sleeping more soundly’, it may be that you are quietly dreading the festive break, which – along with fun traditions and indulgent meals – usually comes with an unhealthy dollop of rage, frustration and conflict. And, which family members know how to push our buttons better than our siblings? Even those who get on with their siblings would find it difficult to say that they had never fallen out, or at least been caught up in a tense discussion or three. But, what can we do to improve these complicated relationships? This month, we investigate sibling dynamics and share fascinating insights, as well as practical tools, to make sure you have a happy family get-together.


“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations” Oscar Wilde


With the festive season looming, bickering siblings – including supposedly sensible adult ones – is a common stress. Anita Chaudhuri asks why sibling relationships are so complex, and what we can do to improve them

The trouble with Bea is that it’s high time she grew up and joined the real world, instead of drifting around in la-la land, expecting everyone else to pick up the pieces after she’s made yet another idiotic life choice,’ says Melissa, a 43-year-old teacher. Her voice seethes with indignation as she speaks, and you could be forgiven for thinking that she was talking about her worst enemy. In a way, you would be right, except the enemy in question is Melissa’s only sibling, a sister two years her junior.

While Melissa had always done everything to win parental approval – stellar exam results, great university, sensible career, good husband, three lovely children – her sister, by contrast, followed an entirely different path. Bea studied acting, rarely worked and drifted from one doomed relationship to the next. At the age of 41, without family responsibilities nor property, she decided to study screenwriting – and their parents are footing the bill.

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Psychologies December 2016 - Stop Sibling Rivalry