Monday, June 2, 2008

This article is about the human condition. For the Family Guy episode, see Sibling Rivalry (Family Guy episode). For the Doobie Brothers album, see Sibling Rivalry.

Portrait of Lady Cockburn and her Three Eldest Sons , by Joshua Reynolds.Sibling rivalry is a type of competition or animosity among brothers and sisters, blood-related or not.

82% of people in Western countries have at least one sibling, and siblings generally spend more time together during childhood than they do with parents. The sibling bond is often complicated and is influenced by factors such as parental treatment, birth order, personality, and people and experiences outside the family. [1] According to child psychologist Sylvia Rimm, sibling rivalry is particularly intense when children are very close in age and of the same gender, or where one child is intellectually gifted.[2]

Sibling rivalry is not unique to Western culture. For example, there is an Arabic saying: "I against my brother; my brother and I against my cousin; I, my brother, and my cousin against the stranger".

Sibling rivalry can involve aggression; however, it is not the same as sibling abuse where one child victimizes another.

Contents [hide]
1 Throughout the lifespan
2 Causes
2.1 Psychoanalytic view
2.2 Evolutionary psychology view
3 Prevention
4 Animals
5 Famous sibling rivalry instances
5.1 In the Bible
5.2 In literature
5.3 In film and television
6 List of Sibling Rivalrys
6.1 In film and television
6.2 In video games
6.3 In Anime/Manga
6.4 In non-Biblical history
7 References
8 External links

[edit] Throughout the lifespan

From a young age, children are sensitive to differences in parental treatment.Sibling rivalry usually starts right after, or before, the arrival of the second child. The older child can become aggressive, “act out”, or regress (act more like a baby). Research indicates that the older child’s personality has the most effect on how they react to a new baby. Children with the closest relationships to their mothers show the most upset after the baby is born, while those with a close relationship to their father seem to adjust better. The child’s developmental stage may affect how well they can share their parents’ attention. Often two-year-olds have trouble adapting to a new baby, because they still have a great need for time and closeness from their parents. [3]

According to observational studies by Judy Dunn, children are sensitive from the age of one year to differences in parental treatment. From 18 months on siblings can understand family rules and know how to comfort and hurt each other. By three years old, children have a sophisticated grasp of social rules, can evaluate themselves in relation to their siblings, and know how to adapt to circumstances within the family. [1]

Sibling rivalry often continues throughout childhood and can be very frustrating and stressful to parents. [4] Adolescents fight for the same reasons younger children fight, but they are better equipped physically and intellectually to hurt and be hurt by each other. Physical and emotional changes cause pressures in the teenage years, as do changing relationships with parents and friends. Fighting with siblings as a way to get parental attention may increase in adolescence. [5] One study found that the age group 10 to 15 reported the highest level of competition between siblings [6]

Sibling rivalry can continue into adulthood and sibling relationships can change dramatically over the years. Events such as a parent’s illness may bring siblings closer together, whereas marriage may drive them apart, particularly if the in-law relationship is strained. Approximately one-third of adults describe their relationship with siblings as rivalrous or distant. However, rivalry often lessens over time and at least 80 percent of siblings over age 60 enjoy close ties. [1]

[edit] Causes

Two sisters meet for the first timeAccording to Kyla Boyse from the University of Michigan, each child in a family competes to define who they are as individuals and want to show that they are separate from their siblings. Children may feel they are getting unequal amounts of their parents’ attention, discipline, and responsiveness. Children fight more in families where there is no understanding that fighting is not an acceptable way to resolve conflicts, and no alternative ways of handling such conflicts. Stress in the parents’ and children’s lives can create more conflict and increase sibling rivalry. [4]

[edit] Psychoanalytic view
Sigmund Freud saw the sibling relationship as an extension of the Oedipus complex, where brothers were in competition for their mother's attention and sisters for their fathers. [7] For example, in the case of Little Hans, Freud postulated that the young boy's fear of horses was related to jealousy of his baby sister, as well as the boy's desire to replace his father as his mother's mate.

Alfred Adler saw siblings as "striving for significance" within the family and felt that birth order was an important aspect of personality development.

David Levy introduced the term "sibling rivalry" in 1941, claiming that for an older sibling "the aggressive response to the new baby is so typical that it is safe to say it is a common feature of family life."[8]

[edit] Evolutionary psychology view
Evolutionary psychologists such as Robert Trivers and biologists such as W. D. Hamilton explain sibling rivalry in terms of parental investment and kin selection. A parent shares 50% of her genes with each child, and is inclined to spread resources equally among all children in the family. However, a child shares 50% of his genes with a sibling but 100% with himself; so if the relationship follows Hamilton's rule, he should only share resources if the benefit to the sibling is greater than twice the benefit to himself (this is not a conscious calculation, but a genetic coding that unconsciously guides the behavior). So parents try to encourage their children to share, but often meet resistance. Children have motivation to feel both positively and negatively towards brothers and sisters, which may explain the mixed feelings that siblings sometimes have towards each other.[6]

[edit] Prevention
Parents can reduce the opportunity for rivalry by refusing to compare or typecast their children, teaching the children positive ways to get attention from each other and from the parent, planning fun family activities together, and making sure each child has enough time and space of their own. [4] They can also give each child individual attention, encourage teamwork, refuse to hold up one child as a role model for the others, and avoid favoritism. [9]

However, according to Sylvia Rimm, although sibling rivalry can be reduced it is unlikely to be entirely eliminated. In moderate doses, rivalry may be a healthy indication that each child is assertive enough to express his or her differences with other siblings. [2]

[edit] Animals
Sibling rivalry is common among various animal species, in the form of competition for food and parental attention. An extreme type of sibling rivalry occurs when young animals kill their siblings. For example, a black eagle mother lays two eggs, and the first-hatched chick pecks the younger one to death within the first few days. Among spotted hyenas, sibling competition begins as soon as the second pup is born, and 25% of pups are killed by their siblings. [10]

Sibling relationships in animals are not always competitive. For example, among wolves, older siblings help to feed and guard the young.[11]

[edit] Famous sibling rivalry instances

Cain leads Abel to Death, by James Tissot.
[edit] In the Bible
The story of Cain and Abel tells of one brother's jealousy after God appeared to favour his sibling, and the jealousy ultimately leads to murder. Jacob tricks his brother Esau out of his inheritance; sisters Leah and Rachel compete for the love of Jacob; while Joseph's brothers are so jealous that they sell him into slavery.

[edit] In literature
A number of Shakepeare's plays displays incidences of sibling rivalry. King Lear provokes rivalry among his three daughters by asking them to describe their love for him; in the same play, the Edmund contrives to force his half-brother Edgar into exile. In The Taming of the Shrew, sisters Kate and Bianca are shown fighting bitterly. In Richard III, the title character is at least partially motivated by rivalry with his brother, King Edward.

In Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen), the sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are in conflict with each other due to their different views on life and proper conduct. In East of Eden (John Steinbeck) the brothers Cal and Aron Trask are counterparts to Cain and Abel of the bible story.

[edit] In film and television
Sibling rivalry is a common theme in media that features child characters, reflecting the importance of this issue in early life. These issues can include jealousy on the birth of a new baby (for example, Dil and Tommy Pickles in The Rugrats Movie), different sibling roles such as troublemaker versus nerd (Bart and Lisa Simpson in The Simpsons), frequent arguments (Malcolm and Reese Wilkerson in Malcolm in the Middle), bullying (Linus and Lucy van Pelt in Peanuts), and tensions between step-siblings (The Brady Bunch Drake & Josh Life With Derek).

Adult siblings can also be portrayed with a rivalrous relationship, often a continuation of childhood conflicts. Situation comedies exploit this to comic effect (for example, Ross and Monica Geller in Friends and Raymond and Robert Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond). Sibling relationships may be shown as alternately loving and argumentative (Rose and Maggie in In Her Shoes). Brothers or sisters in a similar line of work may display professional rivalry (Frasier and Niles Crane in Frasier). In serious drama, conflict between siblings can be fatal (Michael and Fredo Corleone in The Godfather).

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