Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Extreme Sibling Rivalry

                                                                                                Julie Kemp Pick


The holidays bring out the best and the worst in families. My brother and I don't necessarily see eye to eye on everything, but he is always the first person to make me laugh when I need it the most. We could be arguing one minute, not talking the next, and yet he'll still come through for me in his own way.

Recently, I asked him a medical question, and within seconds he told me to pull up my yearly test results online. Though he is not a doctor, he spent more time explaining every detail of  a routine CBC (complete blood count), than any of my own doctors ever did. For example, if your RBC  (red blood count) is low, you may need to add more iron to your diet, but it's important to discuss it with your doctor first. Of course this conversation kept me in my pajamas through lunchtime, but knowledge is fuel for the brain.

Although my brother has battled devastating health issues since childhood, it is with his research on diet and exercise that he has become his own medical miracle. Through it all, my brother never complained and always approached every obstacle with strength and humor. He inspired my boys to start working out at an early age, and they continue to spend quality time together at the gym with my husband.

This brings me to a letter I came across in Ask Amy, an advice column featured in the Chicago Tribune. A woman wrote in about her half-sister who lost contact with her family after an incident with one of her grown children. The icing on the cake was that she "...refused to celebrate birthdays and holidays with us anymore. No gift, no card."  Lost in Lauderdale decided to take matters into her own hands when she contacted her half-sister's bosses to let them know, "She has on more than one occasion helped herself to pens and Post-it notes from her workplace."

This was not enough to ease her pain, "I also let the IRS know that she may not have reported all the waitress tips she earned while she worked at a restaurant." Afterward, Lost in Lauderdale was astonished that her family wanted nothing to do with her when her half-sister was clearly the one at fault.

After reading this, I felt quite relieved that I don't have a sister or even daughters. Though I doubt that my daughters would be vicious toward each other. They would probably just repress any ill feelings they had, and take them out on me in my old age. At least, I don't have to worry about my boys behaving that way; that's what their future wives are for.

36 comments:

  1. I have some sibling tension with an older brother. Sometimes he just pushes all the right buttons and drives me crazy.

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  2. Families can deteriorate in some very sad and unpredictable ways.

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  3. That is terrible! My brother and I aren't close, but I'd never do something like that to a family member. I'd never do it to anyone for that matter.

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  4. Michael - Unfortunately, that happens quite often with siblings. I always tell my boys to ignore each other during those times, but it's much easier said than done.

    Delores - So true, but this case really was extreme.

    Alex - You don't need to. You have an army behind you.

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  5. I've seen a family fall apart, and it's so sad. My sister and I are very close. I can't imagine either of us behaving in that way toward the other.

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  6. I'm fortunate to have a pretty good relationship with my siblings. I have seen the results of families that turn on each other. These days, the importance of family and heritage is frequently forgotten in the shadow of day to day living--and petty grievances such as the one you describe in the family above. I hope for my family that blood stays thicker than company ink ;)

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  7. I agree, guys don't seem to be as cantankerous. Thanks heavens. I enjoy learning from you. Thanks for the education.

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  8. Carol - It's great that you're so close with your sister. This woman definitely needs more help than an advice columnist can provide.

    Julie - "Blood stays thicker than company ink," is an even better response than what the columnist came up with! Julie, will you send me your employer's address?

    Barb - Thanks to you, I now understand the "guttural language of males who are not-quite-adults!" Providing an example of inappropriate behavior is "meh" in comparison.

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  9. Hi Julie .. yea - one brother is something else, and the other just tolerates, but isn't that helpful to me .. still there we go - at least they're not viscious like the Lost in Lauderdale - crumbs .. leave it - dont exacerbate the situation .. what a tell tale - you wonder what she's like ..

    Have a lovely season .. with all the ups and downs .. Cheers Hilary

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  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  11. It's so sad when families behave that way. I have one sister and we're really close. I can't imagine it any other way.

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  12. Hilary - I think that many men just don't realize when they're not being helpful. I'm sure in the case with your mum, that they see what an incredible job you're doing, and probably think that they're helping you, by staying out of your way. Things would be so much easier if your responsibilities were divided up fairly; unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Wishing you a lovely season too Hilary.

    Shirely - It's so nice to hear when families are close! You are lucky to have each other.

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  13. Arguing is common amongst siblings and from reading your other posts I have a feeling you see "eye to eye" on most things. I really enjoyed this as well as the previous "arguing" and "bragging rights" stories.

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  14. Luckily for us, my three brothers, one sister and I all get along great. We always make each other laugh (sometimes even when we're NOT drinking).
    You mentioned you needed more iron in your diet...? Well, that may work, but make sure you unplug it first so you don't burn the inside of your mouth.

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  15. How good that your brother has such strength and humour. He sounds lovely. I have to say a word here in support of daughters. They aren't all bad. My lovely daughter has been there for me through Mr A's illnesses and she's definitely my best friend.

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  16. I agree with Rosalind. No complaints about the support our daughter and daughters-in-law give each other ... and me. In our family, it's usually the men who hold ridiculous grudges for decades and waste all those precious years. When they finally get back on speaking terms, they have scant time together before one or both dies. Such a waste.

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  17. Al - Are you calling me a big mouth? Thanks for the great tip, and I'm so glad you stopped by!

    Rosalind - In 2nd grade I had to write a paper about my best friend, and I wrote all about my mother. I understand how important mother/daughter relationships are, but I joke around because I have boys. Enjoy your exceptional daughter!

    Susan - There are plenty of men and women out there who aren't happy unless they and everyone around them are miserable. I agree that grudges are the worst, and they eat families alive. You should be very proud to have such a large tight knit family. I remember how your daughter-in-law had you assist in the delivery room. How could I truly hold anything against daughters when I am one?

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  18. Julie, sorry I'm late to post. But, I enjoyed your post a lot. Your brother sounds wonderful and I like your relationship. The story you shared from Dear Amy was pure vengence. And, I can't believe someone would go to that extreme and be so hurtful. The reality is vengence only hurts the perpatrator. Always take the higher path!

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  19. Pat - As far as I'm concerned, there's never a wrong time to visit a blog. I'm just happy that you took the time to stop by. I often show up days after a post comes out. Case in point, I just read your fabulous interview with Michael Garland, and tried to write a comment, but it didn't go through. He is an amazing illustrator!

    I agree that the letter from Ask Amy is "pure vengeance," and that it is best to take "the higher path." Thanks for the kind words Pat!

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  20. Yikes! With relatives like that, who needs enemies? That's crazy.

    Luckily, my family is very docile and just nice, in general. I can't imagine anyone behaving like that.

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  21. Such pettiness! I believe that, for better and for worse, men are simpler than women. I'm glad you have such a gem of a brother.

    Blessings for a wonderful Hanukah and holiday season, Julie.
    xoRobyn

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  22. Your brother sounds like a wonderful guy. The letter is sad and pathetic to say the least. I'm lucky to have great relationships with my siblings, but even if we didn't get along I can't imagine doing something like this. Honestly I can't imagine doing this to anyone! It's amazing how petty some people can be.

    Have a great weekend, Julie! :)

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  23. My brother and I had our share of growing pains as kids, but we're adults now and I could never imagine either one of us doing anything like this to hurt the other!

    I'm glad you and your brother make each other laugh. That's the best part of being siblings.

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  24. I've got three brothers and a sister, but my sister and I are 14 years apart. I look at friends who have only sisters, or who simply have sisters close in age, and I think how much more peaceful it is living in a house full of boys. Sure, we've had our arguments/fights, but we never backstab or do horrible things like that woman. Ugh.

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  25. Talli - Why am I not surprised that you come from such a nice family?!

    Robyn - As in most gems, he does have some flaws, but I think I'll keep him! Wishing you a wonderful Hanukah and holiday season too!

    Julie - If you treated your siblings even half as well as you treat your pets, I'm sure they would still love you! I agree that her actions were beyond "petty!"

    Jennifer - My brother and I fought a lot as kids too. For our wedding toast, he asked us to give him nephews. After we obliged twice, things changed for the better! Thanks for following me!

    Shannon - It's tough growing up with such a large age difference. I would think that sisters closer in age would be more competitive, which could be good or bad. I'm very grateful that my boys get along so well too! I bet if you ran into Lost in Lauderdale on the street, she still wouldn't think she did anything wrong!

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their stories!

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  26. I think relationship with family members is the most treasured human relationship that we can have. My brothers and sisters and I get along with each other pretty well--of course living far apart probably enhances that relationship for me. Same goes for my daughters. One moved to New Jersey and the other two followed. I miss them, but I'm glad they have each other.


    Lee
    Wrote By Rote

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  27. I can't imagine ratting out my siblings like that. I have a passel of brothers, and we aren't a close-knit group, being very different; alcohol gets in the way too for some of them (which is why I haven't had a drop in over decades, being that I've got kids to raise).

    I do have a younger brother of whom I'm very fond, and we communicate pretty regularly, but it can be years between seeing others, even though we're only 20 miles apart.

    Still, I don't think I'd ever go to those lengths.

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  28. Lee - I agree about family relationships. It's sad that your daughters moved out of state, but it's nice that you can visit them all together. You should be proud that you raised them to be so supportive of each other.

    STG - It's such a shame when families don't stay in touch. I'm sure your younger brother is grateful to have you to lean on. Thanks for stopping by!

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  29. Funny I should read about siblings today after what went down with mine. :) I left an award for you on mine, but since I am running late on notifications, here's the link http://melissasimaginarium.blogspot.com/2011/12/thank-you.html

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  30. Gosh! I hear stories like Lost In Lauderdale and I'm so grateful my family isn't like that! We're lucky, actually. As a group we get a long really well - brothers, sisters, parents and in-laws all - the only fly in the ointment is my mother-in-law, but no one on earth gets a long with her :)

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  31. Greetings!

    Families are human beings like everyone else. We all have faults, habits that can be worked on.

    I have 9 sister's and my only brother passed away several years ago. There has been plenty of sibling rivalry amongst us girls when we were younger. As adults we get along very well- we still have hour disagreements of course.

    We are there for one another when we need to be, however in some cases, I've learned to say "no" in life period - be it family, friends, etc.

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  32. Forgive my error- I ment to say - our disagreements.

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  33. My sibs are quite a bit older than I am, so they feel more like aunts and uncles than sisters and brothers. I love them, but I don't have a lot in common with them.

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  34. Just came back to award you for your utter awesomeness (and for the chance that you might repay me with cookies). Just clickety-click to collect your goodies.

    You realize, of course, that by ‘goodies,’ I mean a pic that you totally could have swiped anyway and not felt any obligation to meet the demands that come with being an award winner, right? Yeah, I thought so.

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  35. Melissa - Thanks so much for sharing your award with me, and congrats on being one of the finalists for Sexiest Female Author!

    Susanna - I think every family has at least one "fly in the ointment!" She should wise up and realize how much she is missing out on.

    Betty - I'm very sorry about your brother.

    You are right to stand up for yourself and just say "no" when the situation calls for it.

    I love how conscientious you are! I wish they had spell-check on all computers for comments too.

    Word Nerd - Even though you don't have much in common, it still must be nice to have lots of family around.

    This is such an exciting award that I'll have to go back to read all about you one more time! I love cookies too, if you meet me halfway I'm sure we could work something out! Thank you Beth!

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