The issue might be too painful or complex for readers to resolve, but we do have some professional guidance from Leonard Felde, a therapist in private practice in Los Angeles and author of "When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People" (Rodale, $15).
There are at least two effective ways to overcome sibling rivalry.The first is to lighten up and let your siblings be neurotic, imperfect, narrow-minded, shallow or difficult and to just enjoy the fact that you each have a shared history, a shared DNA, a shared insider's view of your parents and other family members, and a shared need to stay in good communication so you can, one day, make good decisions about caring for your parents and inviting one another to family celebrations.
You don't have to be best friends or roommates, but you do need to have a silent sense of humor that says, "How did I get such a bizarre and difficult sibling? Is this person a piece of work or what?"
The second way to overcome sibling rivalry is to examine whether you've contributed in any way to this other person being so rebellious, defensive, contrarian, edgy or insufferable. For example:
- Have you ever told your sibling about the one or two good traits you've always admired or emulated in him or her?
- Have you ever thanked this person for the times (even if they were few) when he or she did something kind or helpful for you, your parents or someone else you love?
- Have you ever stopped and appreciated that maybe you were given more intelligence or better social skills than your sibling, and it's not this person's fault, so it might be time to stop being so competitive and judgmental?
- Or have you ever apologized to your sibling for the times when you were bossy, irritating, impatient or harsh?
Don't do what most people do, which is to wait until a deathbed scene, many years from now, before you open up your heart and drop your judgment toward a sibling who is imperfect but still your flesh and blood.
Use the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner or some other sacred moment to ask yourself, "Am I willing to stop battling my sibling over who's better and start realizing this family and this world is big enough for both of us?"
Visit Felder's Web site - www.difficultrelatives.com - for more information on relationships with adult siblings and other family members.