We’d go through anything for each other, but stay out of my business, or else
We’ve known each other our entire lives. We’re part of the same family. Why can’t we have a single, normal conversation that doesn’t involve raised voices and too many tears?
You can have my kidneys — for real. Actually, you can have one of my kidneys. I’ll keep the other one just in case. I’ll give you my blood, my bone marrow, the other half of my liver.
But you absolutely cannot have my phone charger. And if you take (read: steal) my white shoes without permission, even for shabbaton ‘cuz you have NOTHING to wear, you don’t want me to finish my sentence. I promise.
It works like that for some reason.
Like we’d go through anything for each other, but stay out of my business, or else.
Sister Squabble Number One:
Your sister is on the phone. You want the phone. What happens next? You know, but I’ll tell you anyway.
There’s shouting. There’s door slamming. There’s (gasp) name calling that always ends with both of you in tears.
Sister Squabble Number Two:
Your sister gets straight A’s. You do not get straight A’s (to put it mildly). You hate every single trophy and award hanging in your shared bedroom because none of them belong to you. Like, why does she have to be so perfect? You give her the silent treatment every time she hangs up another one.
Now take this: Your friend wants to use the school computer. You want the school computer. You pull up another chair and you both end up getting no work done because you’re too busy laughing. And when she gets trophies, you hang them up for her.
What is sibling rivalry?
Sibling rivalry is a type of competition or animosity between siblings.
Sibling rivalry is different in every family. Depending on your circumstances and position in your family, the things you bicker about will vary. Like, if you’re the oldest, you might have to deal with younger siblings who don’t listen to you; if you’re the younger end of the family, you might have bossy older sibs. Middle children need to deal with both — poor them.
It also depends on your siblings’ personality. Some of your sisters might scream, some of them will give it to you over your head, and some of them will ignore you for the rest of their lives (or at least they’ll try to).
And you — you never do any of that, right?
You didn’t choose your sister. You didn’t decide to have her breathing down your neck when you’re on the phone or comment on the giant wreck you made out of your side of the room. You didn’t even ask to share a room with her. She makes even bigger messes than you do. And yes, it’s super annoying when teachers mix up your names just because she came first. You hate her just for being smart because OMG, the pressure.
So you fight. You bicker and you argue, and you call her names just because you’re so frustrated.
Admission time. I’ll make you say it this time:
Position in the family: Oldest
Number of siblings: 7
It’s hard to be the oldest. Everyone says it, but it’s true.
Especially when you have 7 little people who came after you and share the oxygen particles you breathe.
For some reason, there’s never enough.
Yes, we fight. We fight a lot. We argue about clothes and shoes and who came first. (I did — always!)
We fight about the front seat in the car and who gets to drive and why did you decide that you own the house phone. And no, I am not doing the dishes tonight just because you have no patience.
And yes, my friends are mine. They pretend not to mind you, but they do. I hate when you guys hang around when I bring them over. So I just don’t anymore. I learned my lesson.
It’s also really hard for me to see my younger siblings do stuff that my parents never, ever let me do when I was a kid. So I sometimes steal their kid stuff just to make it up to the kid in me. Like their hoverboards. And you did not catch me on my brother’s Ripstik.
Please forgive me, dear sibs. It’s usually you guys that steal from me!
And like, hi, it would be no fun to go hoverboarding by yourself. Admit it. And our family road trips would be way too boring without food fights and annoying singing.
I wish there was a way to stop all the bad stuff that goes on between all my siblings but there’s just too much I need to say sometimes. So I say it.
Position in the family: Oldest
Number of siblings: 0
I’m not selfish. I’m not the pampered princess type, sorry.
I just don’t have any siblings.
I know that in the frum world that’s totally weird, but it’s the only thing I’ve ever known.
And yes, I got a new American Girl doll every single year till I turned 12. You have permission to hate me.
I’m not a horrible, spoiled brat, there was just no one else to get it for!
When my friends talk about their siblings, I don’t really know what they mean. Like, I have friends, but they tried to explain to me (too many times) that siblings are just different.
They complain about it so much that I wish I would know what they were talking about.
Honestly, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen my friends badger their older sisters, send away their pesky brothers, and lock their nosy siblings out.
And don’t tell them I said this because they’ll roll their eyes: I would love someone to fight with.
Because none of them realize it, but if you fight, you love.
I don’t have a sibling to yell at, but I also don’t have any to cry with or laugh with or stay up with just to schmooze till two in the morning. In school, I’m in totally foreign territory because none of my sisters have whined about any teachers till my ears hurt.
My house is kind of boring. I’m never squished in the car or have to sit on the folding chair because there’s no room at the table. I’ve never had my chocolate stash raided or my closet wrecked.
If my imaginary sibling did that, I don’t think I would scream. (As long as they stayed imaginary.)
I’ll just enjoy my friend’s sibs for now and let them do the fighting.
I hope they win — too bad I’m biased.
Position in the family: second
Number of siblings: 5
Most of my siblings are safely out of the house. Don’t think I can breathe a sigh of relief, though.
They come. All the time. And I love it. They bring little people with them. I love that even more.
My nieces and nephews are the cutest, my binder is decorated with pictures of them.
I hate moving out of my room and I hate babysitting all day. Just because I don’t have three kids yet doesn’t make me unentitled to sit. Really. I have stuff to do, too.
And I wish they would stop bossing me around all day about the stuff I do or don’t do. Because they don’t. Live. In. My. House.
I hate fighting with them, but a girl needs her breathing space.
Too bad they don’t realize it, though.
Ruchy and Malky
Position in the family: middle chidren
Number of siblings: 12
Yes, we’re twins. No, we’re not identical. Our teachers didn’t even know we were related until we told them! That was pretty funny. We wanted separate school interviews ‘cuz we’re two different people, but too bad we’re being asked how much we fight because we’re twins.
The answer? A lot.
But we wouldn’t know if it’s more or less than any of you fight with your sisters because we don’t know what it’s like not to be a twin.
We share a bedroom and do not wear matching clothing, except for our school uniforms, for those of you who are wondering. We have very, very, very different tastes and personalities.
Ruchy likes English. Malky likes math. Need we say more?
Built-in competition has made us, well, competitive.
We’re in separate parallel classes, thankfully. We probably wouldn’t be on speaking terms otherwise.
We won’t lie that it’s not hard. It is. Imagine having someone the same age as you, doing all the same stuff as you, and she lives in the same house as you, too. Yeah, annoying. Especially when everyone automatically assumes that we’re joined at the hip, which we’re not. Really.
It gets super complicated, especially when we need to make decisions together.
Like, what to wear to our double bas mitzvah party. We’ll spare you the bloody details, it was bad.
We ended up giving each other the silent treatment for weeks until the only dress that was still available was one that we both hated. Oh, well. That’s what you get, right?
At least we spoke after.
To be honest, it’s fun to have a built-in friend to pour water over your head in the morning to get you up because no one else will. One freaky thing: We can read each other’s minds. We just know what the other is thinking. But I guess spending that amount of time with anyone would do that.
We have blissful relationships with the rest of our siblings and never raise our voices at them.
(We’re lying, of course.)
Okay, we got it, we’re all sick of fighting with our siblings. We love them, but we wish we wouldn’t argue that much.
When is the nonstop bickering going to end? Never.
Really. I’m sorry that there’s no magical solution that will make your voice calm when you trip on your brother’s Matchbox cars and or stop you from keeping all your Laffy Taffy ropes in the middle pocket of your knapsack so nobody takes them.
As long as you live with them, and even if they move out, your sibs are here to stay. And honestly, you need them.
But isn’t there something you could do about it?
There is. But you’re not going to like the answer.
Because the answer takes work, the hard kind. The one that has you biting down your lips, hard, and acting civil even when you would like to not act civil.
Communication goes a long way. By the time you work your sib relationships out, you’ll be a better person in every single way. Dealing with them does that to you.
No worries, they’ll put you the test. Every. Single. Day.
Yay for character improvement.
From a licensed psychologist
By Faiga Fischer, LMHC*
- Wait — don’t respond right away.
Take time to cool down before replying. Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Talk — no raised voices.
Discuss what’s bothering you after the moment has passed.
- Grin and bear it — sometimes,
tolerance is the only way.
Your sibs are here to stay. Embrace
them (like, hugs).
- Perfect is the enemy of good — don’t
aim for perfection.
You’re human and your siblings are, too. Move on and apologize.
- Say you’re sorry — no mumbling.
Saying sorry if you really mean it goes a long way.
- Thank Hashem — you got the
best siblings in the world.
Try managing without them, you wouldn’t be able to!
*Mrs. Fischer (not her real name) is a therapist in the New York area, who treats clients of all ages.
There are probably a few sisters reading this who have no idea what we’re all talking about. Lucky, lucky them.
“My sister is my best friend in the world,” Hindy tells me. “We’re only two years apart and we do everything together. Like, everything. I won’t say it isn’t convenient to have her around all the time!”
I ask if her other siblings are jealous of their relationship.
“They’re all boys,” she laughs. “So they don’t really get it. They think that all sisters are like us.”
Which they’re not, I hasten to add. I wonder if she realizes how unique her relationship with her sister is.
“I get it that not everyone’s like us, but really, I feel like everyone can make her sister into her best friend.”
“I wish,” I tell her.
To make all the human people out there still feel okay about themselves, I ask her if they argue at all.
“Of course we do,” she reassures me. “Like, we don’t always agree about everything. We like different restaurants, we like different stuff. I think we’re just good at working it out.”
I’m happy there are sisters out there that love each other that much.
It gives the rest of the world hope.
It may be comforting to know that the one of the reasons you fight with your siblings is because you feel safe when you’re with them.
Your sibling will not be able to dump you when you spill their secret or tell on them.
Your friend can (and will). Note: Do not try it.
You will always, always have your sister’s shoulder to lean on. She won’t ever go away, even if you send her. No matter how many times you guys have it out, there will always be another time.
So when you feel like it, you fight. Because she’s not scared of you and she knows you don’t really mean what you’re saying.
She also knows that if she bakes chocolate chip cookies, you’ll forgive her by tomorrow.
So even though it may seem that you fight because you can’t stand her, you really fight because you can’t live without her and you love her!
Your siblings may be your best enemies.
But they are also your best friends.
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 860)
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