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Much has been researched and written on parent-child relationships as well as marital and partnered relationships. In comparison, surprisingly little has been researched and written about sibling relationships. This seems strange since we know that both good and bad sibling relationships can impact us all. As we enter the holiday season in full force these relationships so often emerge in powerful ways for healing ...and for torture. Too often sibling relationships can add a great deal of stress to an already stressful time of year.
In working with psychotherapy patients for 30 years I can’t tell you how often clients talk about the challenges associated with their sibling relationships and, most especially, how these challenges unfold during the end of year holidays. While some are blessed to have very positive, loving, and nurturing relationships with brothers and sisters too often many don't have very good relationships with their sibs at all. In fact, many have had (and continue to have) relationships that are toxic, abusive, and even criminal. I can’t count how many patients I have treated who have reported that they were significantly victimized by a sibling while a child or teen and yet haven’t been able to tell anyone about their victimization. They didn't want to burden their parents or thought that others wouldn't believe their stories. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse are common not to mention cruelty and severe sibling rivalry too.