SOCIETY It begins with rivalry but ends up being a bond, says BINDU TOBBY about siblings
It’s like a wart you want to so badly remove, but slowly as the years go by, you realise that it has grown on you and became so much a part of you, that it even defines you – so said Garfield (the cat), about his friend Odie (the dog). I can’t seem to liken that comment to siblings more than anything else.
Of course, in those initial years you fight like Garfield and Odie (read cats and dogs) — learning to share, give and take. Loving and loathing each other. Being best friends and worst enemies, all at the same time… and amid all the tears you still share some great moments — laughing at some silly joke, keeping a big secret from your parents, sometimes just pouring your heart out to each other.
And as the years go by , the bickering is replaced with a sincere concern and certainty that there is someone you can fall back on. Invariably though, the journey is replete with black eyes, bruised egos and bitter battles…
Says T. Zacharias, a sales professional working in Bangalore: “In most cases, in the initial years, siblings believe they have to compete for the largest piece of the ‘attention’ pie from their parents. That is invariably where the insecurity, rivalry and one upmanship begins. If parents consciously or unconsciously allow this inherent quality to grow, the rivalry starts to build.”
Ravi Raman, working with an MNC agrees: “Parents should ensure that insecurities don’t dominate thoughts of children. It is at moments when the insecurity is dominant between siblings that “rivalry” is stoked. However, when one feels ‘safe’ and ‘contented’ affection and love blooms for the other.” He laughs adding: “I still remember the days when my younger brother and I wanted full pants only because my elder brother got it!”
Whatever be the cause for the unhappiness and bitter fights, “The end result of sibling rivalry is always winning a friend for life,” says Aditya James, an engineering student, who has a younger sister. “I think rivalry is just a part of the whole maturity process, which takes you to that place where you can confide your darkest secrets without having to hold back!”
Mekhala Rao, a single child, says she never missed having a sibling but agrees that it is tougher on ‘single’ children, especially in their younger days, who have to ‘look after’ themselves as they don’t have the emotional safety net of a big brother to run to, or sisters who dispense advise. So typically single children can handle bullying, learn to fight their own battles and have better social skills. Arathi Padmanabhan, who is based in Canada, seems to think that while sibling rivalry exists in all cases, it seems to vary in different combinations – like a brother-brother, sister-sister or a brother-sister relationship. She fondly remembers her younger days with her brother and says, “Now the years and distance between us have made us learn to appreciate each other’s place. Recently my dad was hospitalised and we seemed to draw emotional strength from each other - which was quite a feat, considering the constant bickering we were used to!” she laughs.
Says Marina Furtado, who is the youngest of three siblings: “I never had rivalry issues since I am the baby of the family. I never had to compete with them, never had to share either,” she chuckles. “It was always a protector-protected relationship with them when I was younger! Of course, as the years passed, I have developed a very strong friendship with both of them, especially my sister.”
Amrita Naik who has a brother says: “At the end of the day family is family, and siblings are for life... you can choose your friends but you cannot choose family!” So you learn to accept them. And with each passing year, you realise that the wart was actually not such a bother. Au contraire, it was more something that helped define you.
That’s probably why my brother, (who I’ve never seen shed a tear), had moist eyes when he bid me ‘farewell’ the day I was married…UPS AND DOWNS
Parents would do well not to compare siblings, since that unconsciously sparks off insecurity and seeds of rivalry
Rivalry is part of the maturity process needed to get to the ‘peaceful zone’
The years and distance invariably ensure you have a friend for life