As we continue this sensitive topic, my gratitude goes to all my supporters. Those encouraging words mean very much to me and give me the motivation to keep on writing.
Sibling rivalry appears to swing on the pendulum of the ladder of arrival on planet earth, which pits: the elder against the younger; the intellectually smart against those not so endowed; and the prosperous against those not so well to do. There could be many other categories, but these might be the most common. The criticisms or ostracisms can emanate from each of the sides (older or younger) and there is usually no set pattern or hierarchy of complaints – it all depends on the individuals and how deeply they feel threatened, fearful, hateful or discriminated against.
In large families especially, the older siblings might feel, (and sometimes rightly so), that they have a right to direct, dictate and demand respect of the younger ones because while growing up, it fell on them to take on adult responsibilities to help out where or when parents were not able to do so especially when they were at work. On the other hand, the younger siblings do not understand why the older ones want to dictate, direct and smother them. The elder think the younger are spoilt and totally ungrateful, while the younger wonder why in the world the older are unfair and cannot mind their own business. Sometimes these are unspoken feelings, and what then emerge are actions or reactions that at first baffle both parties. As the rivalry continues or grows, siblings may form cliques that fight or oppose each other.
A factor that stands out as a very common cause of sibling rivalry is parental favoritism, (imagined or true; intentional or unintentional). Speaking from my own experience now that my children are grown, I found that while I never planned to favor my youngest daughter over my older ones, by the time I received her into this world, I had mellowed (matured), slowed down, was weaker, had grown in wisdom, grace and peace and looked at things very differently than when I was a young vibrant 22 year old when my first one arrived. Then, I was still trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted in life, when suddenly I had to mature very quickly to mother/nurture this precious jewel that the Universe had put in my hands.
Juggling between jobs, baby sitters, dead beat dad, financial hardships and my myriad emotions, only meant that against my best intentions, I was for the most part frustrated, confused, sometimes even irritated or mad at life. So even though I might have wanted to be the sweetest, kindest and most loving mother in the world, the dynamics around my life then couldn’t have allowed for that to happen exactly, and as a result, my two older daughters had it a bit rougher than their younger sibling. The dynamics at 40 and 22 are completely diverse. These are things that parents don’t explain to their children, because, perhaps these things are not even apparent to the parents themselves until much later on life, so there remains that unexplained chain of events, that are totally out of the parents’ control, and from there can arise all kinds of conclusions and misunderstandings by and amongst siblings. Now that I know, maybe if I were to get another child, I would sit my children down and explain to them what I have just explained aboveJ
Children eventually grow up and go their own different ways, with the unresolved issues, and since these are impressions formed very early on in life, they are hard to get rid of, unless one makes a special effort and realizes that what happened those many years back, does not have to define their life, neither do they have to tug it along in life, and if there was ever favoritism or negativity towards some children, both those favored and those not favored, did not ask for it neither did both have control over the events that happened to them as they grew up because they were all children, and were victims or beneficiaries of circumstances beyond their control – not of their own choosing. I like to look at it as a necessary part of growth that had to happen for a good reason. There are usually lessons to be learnt from what the Universe sends our way.
It might be important to remember that we all find ourselves in places and circumstances that we sometimes don’t even understand, but for whatever reason, the Universe has stationed us at those places. I heard someone say the other day: “The more the faithfulness, the more the trials.” I don’t know why that should be, but one thing that is for sure is that some of the most successful people in life had to undergo serious hardships, some from their own siblings. It looks like the bigger the destiny, the greater the trials, and what could be more hurtful and crushing than one’s own siblings betraying and hating on a person?
Think of it: David, the great king of Israel, was not even considered as anything when the prophet Samuel went to anoint him king. His own dad did not think much of him, to the effect that when Samuel sanctified Jesse’s sons, David was not even present. Finally when Samuel asked if those were all his sons, Jesse said: “There is yet the youngest, he is tending the sheep.” Talk of discrimination! If his own dad treated him that way, it was no wonder that his brothers didn’t like him. But look at what a great destiny was in store for him – a man after God’s own heart.
I have always tried to imagine what Joseph thought as his brothers argued amongst themselves of how best to get rid of him – first they threw him in the pit, removed him, then sold him to the Egyptians. Look at what a destiny awaited him. Jacob was mistreated by his own uncle after which he went on his way, where he met God who blessed him.
The hottest heat is usually in the deep ashes, where it seems like nothing is happening. When that scorching becomes unbearable, it leaves us with no choice but to stand up and walk. That is exactly what we are meant to do; endure the pain no more and move away to our destiny.
It is from the crushing of the rose (and other flower) petals that we get the sweet smelling perfume. The pressing of olives gives us the healing oil. The washing, skinning, grinding and boiling of coffee gives us the sweet brew. All these plants give of themselves willingly, to serve us, because that was the purpose for which they were created. They never complain or refuse to give the sweetness that is caused by the crushing. So is it with us when we go through the crushing by sibling rivalry; it crushes so badly, but it is from there that we are pushed to our destiny to produce the sweet smelling fragrance of fulfilling what destiny has in store for us. When we use that nice smelling perfume, we never think of the process that flower went through for us to enjoy the product. When we drink the coffee, we don’t think of or even know what happened to it so that we could enjoy it.
So if we are going through that crushing, destiny is calling us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. That crushing is a necessary part of the greater plan of God. It might not be possible to take it calmly because we are human, but it is enough to know that Destiny is calling, and if that is the vehicle that was meant to carry us to fulfill our purpose on this planet, we should gladly do it, and let others enjoy the sweet smelling fragrance we hold inside us, because for this purpose were we created. Yes, sibling rivalry is the painful and necessary vehicle in the journey to get to our call by Destiny. Blessings come in many ways, and sibling rivalry is one of them, so let’s stand in our truth, embrace it, love it and walk in it without fear or shame. Destiny calls. That call has to be answered.
Finally, let us continue taking care of one another as we care for the universe, because we are all one.
Let us strive to be happy, it is still a beautiful world.
Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Kenyan Parents In USA
Deputy Secretary General CODU
Heads The Girl Child Project In Kenya