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Let brothers and sisters be brothers and sisters

  1. May 8, 2007 #1
    For those who are adults and who have siblings, I was wondering what the relationship is like. How does one's relationship with siblings change after they're all adults? Does one's family become the most important and siblings and their families just become like friends (or maybe a little more)? The reason I ask is because I think my relationship with my brother is deteriorating and I find that very sad. We were never really close, partially because I always tried to be a role model for him, which I think was a very bad idea. There's still something in me about him being my brother which I think will never go away. However, if he wasn't my brother I don't think we would ever talk or like dealing with each other in any way, since we're opposites in every sense of the word. Does this happen to people? I am worried about him not turning out to be a good person when he gets older (he's 17, I'm 20), and I don't think I can do anything to help it. We usually don't want to deal with each other in any way and it's only getting worse, but the fact that he's my brother just breaks my heart. I don't know what to do...whether I should treat him as my brother or not. I believe that in the future, if he stays the way he is, I will avoid him completely and we won't be like brothers anymore. I don't know if that happens to people or not...both of my parents seem to be close with all their siblings, but I don't think my brother and I will be the same :frown:.

    PS. One piece of advice to those having kids: Let brothers and sisters be brothers and sisters. Don't tell one to be a role model for the other.
    Last edited: May 8, 2007
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  3. May 8, 2007 #2


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    My dad was an only child, I'm an only child and I fully intend my son to remain an only child. Sibling relations are complex and having a sibling can either be a strength or a weakness, depending on many things. The most gut-wrenching scenes I've seen are inheritance disputes between siblings, they're just very saddening and disillusioning. On the flip side, having siblings while growing up is a great source of the comfort and security of companionship. If everything goes mostly right, that is.

    So there's good and there's bad - and it's a parent's decision to make. What I *DETEST* most of all are supposedly well-meaning busybodies in my Asian society who constantly badger me to have more kids telling me my son will be "lonely". I'm nice initially, then I'll tell them it's really none of their business. If they persist in their irritation, I'll tell them a few choice anecdotes about the acrimon(e)y between siblings I've witnessed first-hand and *that* shuts them up because they suddenly remember what they've gone through but chosen to forget.

    Sorry for the ranting tone, I've been getting a lot of these "aunties" bugging me lately. :smile:
  4. May 8, 2007 #3
    I'm #3 of 6, Curious, and I can't imagine life in an empty house. Lots of babies for me, please!

    Physics Wiz, I'd advise that you try to just chill with your brother. Both my sister and younger brother are VERY different from me, and were we not related I can't imagine we'd seek out each other's company. (Well...actually my little bro is quite the charismatic dude, so I dunno about him.) But the fact is that we are siblings and we do love each other. We share a fairly large circle of people that we both know and interact with (read "family"), so we always have what to chat about, even if we're not particularly "close".

    The hell with being a role model for your brother; he's nearly an adult at this point, poor choices notwithstanding. I don't know your situation, but I imagine that just being there for your brother and accepting him because he's your brother will keep the two of you connected enough for the time being. Also (assuming that you think of yourself as a good person), if he knows a good person who loves and accepts him unconditionally, he has a better chance of eventually turning out okay himself.
    It sounds like you love him and you know you love him: let him know that you love him too without overwhelming him or hitting him over the head too much/being too sappy.
    Last edited: May 8, 2007
  5. May 9, 2007 #4


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    You've described pretty much the relationship my sister and I have. :biggrin: We're completely different people, and if we weren't related, I'd have no reason to talk to her. As it is, I visit only because I think it's important for my nephew to see his relatives, but I find myself desiring to cut the visits shorter and shorter and craving the day they can put my nephew on a plane to come visit me without his parents tagging along. :rolleyes: But, hey, at least we don't get into fistfights anymore. :biggrin:

    You just have to realize that your brother is old enough to make his own decisions, good or bad. If he asks for help, you can be there to offer it, but if he doesn't, then leave him to make his own mistakes.
  6. May 9, 2007 #5
    My brother is 18, and I'm 23, so it looks like I'm in a similar situation to you, Physics Wiz. To answer your question, in my case my relationship with my brother hasn't changed much at all. In my one semester between college and grad school, I spent a good deal of time at my parents' home, and I noticed that when my brother and I interact, we basically regress to childlike behavior (which isn't to say that we're not getting along).

    Now as to being friends with your brother, perhaps this depends largely on the family. I know brothers who interact with each other just like friends, as well as brothers who don't. I suppose in my case, the age difference is just enough that we can't really interact like friends (after all, under normal circumstances I probably wouldn't hang out with 18 year olds). In recent months my brother and I have had our share of spars, but we seem to get over it. It's normal for some siblings to have a sort of rivalry well into adulthood, as I've personally witnessed.
  7. May 9, 2007 #6


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    Hummm.... an only child talking about sibling relationships????

    I am in the middle of 5. A brother is 4 yr older a sister 2 yrs older (she did not survive the '70s.. car wreck) a sister 7 yrs younger and a brother 11 yrs younger (just so happens he is about 2 weeks younger then Ivan)

    My older brother and I had very little in common while we were growing up, he was into fishing and sports, I was scouting and hiking, we went our separate ways with little communication.

    Now, as adults, we still have different interests, but all recognize the value of each individuals life experiences. We get along quite well when we manage to get together, Christmas, thanksgiving and moms day/ birthday. It is nice that we all live relatively close but not to close so each is able to maintain a private life. My younger bro lives close to our aging mother (Dad did not make it through the '70s either... cancer) so he is able to help her.. sometimes.. We have a pretty good relationships and are enjoying our lives.

    I would say that you need to live your life and let your brother live his. I think you will find that as the years pass you will both change, but will always be brothers.
  8. May 9, 2007 #7
    I and my brother share a love-hate relationship. There have been times when we didn't speak to each other for months and sometimes we were best of friends. I think it irked him that my parents wanted him to be more like me.

    Maybe you should back off a little. You cannot shape his life. He has to do that. I know it hurts when you see someone you love moving towards a potentially disasterous situation but let him learn from his own mistakes. Be there for him when he needs help, but nagging won't get you anywhere, you'll end up losing him.
  9. May 9, 2007 #8
    I have an elder brother. It is nice for a woman to have a big brother. We are just one boy and one girl so there was no competition between us. I admit I am the more selfish sibling-. I have always wondered what it must be like to have a sister. Probably more fun. I think it is certainly better to have a sibling than to have none at all-the more the siblings the better it seems to me-my mother has eight sisters and two brothers-what a family! The funny thing is that the sisters all resemble each other closely. Since my mother is the second youngest my father used to joke that he just needs of take a look at my old aunts to see what my mother will look like when she is very old. When my grandmother died, all eleven siblings were in the bus, transporting her from the rural area to the city. I think that a big family is great but difficult these days financially.
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  10. May 9, 2007 #9


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    I am the oldest of four. I have one brother, who is 14 months younger, and a sister who 4 years, 4 months younger. My youngest brother was 8 years, 5 months younger - but he died just over 6 years ago from leukemia, which to date has been my most painful experience.

    I keep in touch with my siblings periodically. Both are doctors and are married to doctors. My youngest brother's widow was a teacher, but she quit work to raise their only son. She however comes from a wealthy family (all the kids have trust funds), so does not have to work.

    I have been the primary one to keep up with my siblings, although the death of my youngest brother did provide some motivation for the others to contact me more frequently.

    My brother and my sister grew up in my shadow at school. Since I was a top performing student, my siblings were expected by various teachers to perform similarly. That was of course very unfair. My brother has some form of dyslexia, which went undiagnosed until about 2-3rd grade. Also, he was less academically inclined.

    When I was much younger, my brother and I shared a bedroom, and we'd get on each others nerves. We'd periodically get in fights, including fist fights, but that pretty much subsided when I started junior high school.

    I left home when I went to university, and I pretty much supported myself thereafter. I more or less broke ties with the family, i.e. parents and siblings, although I did help my family financially, especially when my siblings started attending university. It was only after each of us started getting married that we really got back in touch.

    As for closeness, we are somewhat close, but I have friends from unversity and work with whom I am closer. That closeness is based shared or common experience with my friends.

    I am geographically separated from my siblings, ~600 miles, from my brother and ~ 1800 miles from my sister and parents.

    My dad is being treated for colon cancer at present. He'll start a new round of chemo (first of three), having finished 6 weeks of radiation and chemo (which followed surgery) just a few weeks ago. I strongly urge people of 50 and over to get a colonoscopy, especially if there is family history of colon cancer. And my mom's health seems to be beginning to deteriorate. Needless to say, I'll be communicating more frequently with my siblings.
    Last edited: May 9, 2007
  11. May 9, 2007 #10
    My younger brother is one of my best friend's. He's 20, and I'm 22.
  12. May 10, 2007 #11
    I'm 19 and my sister is 16 or 17. We are not close at all, I always tried when we were younger but we have nothing in common and she is quite difficult to get along with sometimes. When I moved out we really didn't talk to each other at all, except for the odd time she answered the phone when I called home and I had to ask her to get mom or dad. Now I've come back home for the summer and things are I suppose a bit better but we will never be good friends or anything.
  13. May 10, 2007 #12


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    You will find that the late teenage years are the most difficult for sibling relationships. You are both discovering yourself and it is difficult to understand each other when you both are changing. Do nothing to create animosity, and a few years will allow you each to mature and mellow. By the time you turn 30 the teenage years will be fodder for jokes. Be patient.
  14. May 10, 2007 #13
    I'm the oldest of five. I'm 21, my brother's 20, and my sisters are 16, 15, and 13. My parents' families had six and seven children, so I've seen a lot of adult sibling relationships, and I'm pretty optimistic about mine. (We've seen all the pitfalls!) From my perspective, the biggest uncertainty is in future spouses. I'm not too worried about my brother, as I suspect that I already know his future wife. I'm mainly worried that one of my sisters will marry some loser and become a loser, just like my uncle did. I'm also kind of worried that I'll become the family member who moves half-way across the country and pretty much loses touch with everyone except at Christmas. (Especially since I'm about to move half-way across the country and not visit except at Christmas.)

    The one thing I'm not worried about, however, is money. Between the aunt who moved back in with her parents at the age of 45, and the uncle who stole tens of thousands of dollars from his brother, we've all made a commitment to not let money interfere with our relationships.
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