Sibling Rivalry Essay, Research Paper
From the moment a new baby enters the home, many changes occur. New rooms are made, safety precautions are taken, and parents attention and time are needed. When a new baby is taken into a home where an older child lives, the older sibling may become jealous of the new baby and the changes that are taking place. The time and attention of parents that was previously devoted to the older sibling is now halved and the older sibling may feel he or she needs to get that attention back. From these feeling, sibling rivalry is rooted. Depending on the severity and longevity of the rivalry between siblings, sibling rivalry could have long term psychological effects.
Sibling rivalry is the antagonism or hostility between brothers and/or sisters which manifests itself in circumstances such as a common children s family fights (Boyle, 1999). The root of sibling rivalry can be looked at through nature. In nature the problem is due to competition for limited resources. Extreme cases of sibling rivalry that occur in nature are those between shark siblings and between eagle siblings. In the case of the baby shark, the largest shark in the mothers womb eats the other sharks to make sure the largest shark receives all of the food resources. In the case of the eagles, the eaglet that hatches first pushes the other eaglets out of the nest as soon as they hatch to ensure that the food that is brought back the first born receives.
A similar competition exists between siblings in human families (Boyle, 1999). The scarce resources that human siblings fight for are time, love, attention, and approval. Sibling rivalry is one of humanities oldest problems (Boyle, 1999). One of the first stories in the Bible (which is the oldest book in Western civilization) deals with sibling rivalry. The story is about two brothers, Cain and Able. Cain, the older brother was tired of having to constantly take care of Able, the younger brother. In end, Cain s resentment towards Able led to the murder of Able by Cain. By looking at this story, it shows the great importance and long-term effects of sibling rivalry.
Although the story of Cain and Able was an extreme case, sibling rivalry occurs in every home where multiple children live. In my own experiences in observing sibling rivalry, I have found that children have multiple ways of showing the rivalry between them. For some older children it could be through grades in school, either by competition as to who can do better or by sabotaging the other sibling by hiding books, homework, or backpacks. Parents usually praise children for the positive work that they are doing in class, and children love the attention that they get when they do something good. On the other hand, siblings could fight for their parents attention by doing bad things such as getting in trouble at school by acting up or disobeying the teacher or the rules. This child would get the parents time and attention because they are doing badly. Sibling rivalry also occurs in the form of fighting between the children, or fighting with the parents.
One instance that I observed between Brian and Mathew (the names have been changed to protect their identity) was when I saw them fighting with their parents because Brian, the older child, was playing outside with the younger child. The father called Mathew in because it was getting too dark. Mathew starting fighting with the father saying that it wasn t fair that Brian could stay out later. Brian started arguing with Mathew because Brian wasn t ready to come inside and he thought that the more Mathew argued with the father, the more likely it was that Brian would have to come home early.
Another time that I experience the tension between the two brothers was when I was baby sitting for them. The parents had left for the night with strict rules as to what time each child was to go to bed and the specific routine they had before bed time. Brian was able to stay up 30 minutes later than Mathew and didn t have to take a shower before he went to bed. As bed time came near, Mathew gave me a hard time about the whole situation and then spilled juice on the floor and told me Brian did it, then hit Brian and said Brian had hit him. Both of these things that he did were to stall his bed time and to get Brian in trouble in hopes that I would send him to bed at the same time Mathew was supposed to go to bed.
A final example that I observed was when I was in Brian and Mathew s home. On the refrigerator were pictures of the two boys when they were little and report cards and various papers that they had done. The first thing that I noticed was that there were more pictures of Brian on the refrigerator door, probably because, in general, more pictures were taken of him as a young child. The second thing that I noticed was their report cards. Scholastically, they both had pretty equal grades, but the comments written on the report card were very different. On Brian s report card, it said that he was loud and talked too much during class. However, on Mathew s report card, it said he was shy, and hardly contributed to class discussions
Other observations that I have made have been within my own life. From the time I can remember to just last week, my brother and I have been in constant competition for my parents attention and time. The first instance that I can remember was during my brothers baptism, although it is unlikely for anyone to remember events before the age of four, I distinctly remember the party at our house. I remember looking around at all of the people, mainly their legs, and thinking to myself, why are all these people here for him. I desperately wanted the attention of the adults around me, however, the attention was not on me that day. After thinking that, I remember leaving the house to go swing on the swings in my backyard by myself, hoping someone would notice that I was gone. After that, I don t remember clearly what happened, but my thoughts and actions showed that I wanted the attention focused on me, rather than my brother, which is a form of sibling rivalry. My actions, in this situation, were passive-aggressive to try to gain attention. Throughout our childhood, my brother and I were constantly competing in school as to who got the better grades or who had the better comments on their report card. My parents have always been big on grades, and praise was readily given for good grades. This competition between my brother and I has diminished as we have gotten older, but it does still exist. Sibling rivalry also came in other forms between my brother and I. In this aspect, we would not so much compete with each other, but rather put each other down and it wouldn t be while my parents were around. In this aspect, it was like our roles were reversed. Although I am the older sibling, his comments would often make me feel self-conscience about my abilities as well as my appearance.