Wiener Yaoman, 63, struggled to find the right words to recall her sister Uta: “My sister died in February 2019. She didn’t know why I kept avoiding her until the end.” Before she died In the four years they lived, they met only three times in total, twice at funerals and once at an aunt’s golden wedding.
Uta is beautiful and cheerful, always full of energy, while her younger brother, Wiener, is shy and introverted. Weiner also thought this was good before: “My sister has a great side, she is very generous and reliable.” He participated in dance competitions when he was young, and his sister would drive 40 kilometers every night to cheer him; She comforted her for the first time; after they each had children, they also traveled together and drove to see the Bayern Munich football game.
But as he got older, Wiener felt more and more that he would always be the little brother. He contacted a catering company to organize his 50th birthday party, and his sister would call directly to inquire about the table decoration; when his mother received anti-cancer treatment, his sister arranged parasitic therapy for his mother despite his objection; when dealing with the property left by his parents , my sister went to talk to people about the price without notifying him. “Yuta is always this way,” Wiener said.
Finally, Wiener couldn’t take it anymore. He moved to another city to live, stopped contacting his sister, and stopped wishing her a happy birthday. Later, when I heard that Uta was hospitalized for a myocardial infarction, he didn’t feel anything special either. “I’m also confused as to why I’m so indifferent, after all, we’re siblings,” Wiener said. Now, he will visit her sister’s grave every year on the two days of her sister’s birthday and death. He always had a heavy heart when he thought of the days when they lived together before.
Three-quarters of Germans have siblings, and according to the latest statistics, the proportion is set to rise. The bond between siblings is irreplaceable and often lasts from childhood into old age. You can’t choose, you can’t get rid of them, and even if you lose contact, they will always have a place in your heart.
”From a very young age, siblings develop relationships of competition, alliance, intimacy, estrangement, bickering, understanding,” says York Frick, a professor of psychology at the University of Zurich. “The relationship between siblings is always It’s full of contradictions.” This relationship affects their worldview, the way they get along with their partners and colleagues, and their values and identity.
Sabrina Wabo, director of the German Institute for Youth, said: “We always focus on parents as the dominant family, and we know very little about the long-term effects of sibling relationships.”
| Confrontation |
Doros Lyndon is a lawyer specializing in family and estate law, and is good at bridging the rift between siblings. Not only did she defend her falling out siblings in court, but she also provided mediation services for them.
Lyndon has handled many cases. Some clients plan to repay the debt after receiving the inheritance of the seriously ill old mother, but they did not expect that the mother gave most of the inheritance to other brothers and sisters, leaving only a small amount for him. “The result is constant cursing, accusations, and uncompromising, unacceptable, uncompromising on all sides,” Lyndon said.
There were frequent arguments in her otherwise quiet office. Legacy represents the last care of a parent, but it can also be a source of conflict. Brothers and sisters ditch each other for their mother’s bank account, favorite vase, a painting or a necklace, as if the one who wins the most will become the parent’s favorite child.
”Most people don’t actually want to really go to court with their siblings, they’re looking for a compromise,” Lyndon said, “but there are people who are otherwise incredibly smart, successful, humble, kind, and they’re going to compete with their siblings. When the estate was passed, he became a completely different person, and even because he was dissatisfied with the contents of the will, he brought in old neighbors and friends again and again to prove that the deceased mother was unconscious.”
| Role |
Generally speaking, the younger children in the family always feel that they are restrained by their elder brothers and sisters, and the older ones feel that their younger siblings are not responsible enough, and those caught in the middle do not know which side they should prefer.
Scientists have investigated whether children’s personality traits are affected by family rank. American psychologist Frank Salloway pointed out in his 1996 book “Born to Rebel” after analyzing the resumes of 10,000 people: The oldest child in the family tends to be docile, the middle child is good at communication, and the youngest most rebellious.
Saloway’s views have been criticized for ignoring equally important factors, including the number of children, gender, age difference, cultural perceptions, economic status, and their relationship with parents, grandparents, and friends. But the researchers also emphasized that family rankings do reflect certain characteristic tendencies: the oldest child is always regarded as a role model for younger siblings, and therefore takes on more obligations and responsibilities, and grows stronger; the second born Most of them are imitating the boss; the children in the middle are adaptable and are often very good at dealing with people; the youngest children often look up to their elder brothers and sisters. On the one hand, they are easily frustrated, and on the other hand, they also feel that others will always help them. Everyone plays a different role in the home and uses different ways to gain the attention and love of their parents.
In addition, if parents clearly prefer a child, the children may not get along well; if the parents are violent, the children are sometimes violent; if the family has a sick or disabled child, the relatively healthy child will There is a greater sense of responsibility and justice; if the children have a harmonious relationship, younger siblings will imitate older children; in general, regardless of gender, the smaller the age difference, the closer the children are, and the more intense the competition.
Even without your parents, the imprints of childhood will accompany you for a long time. Even if their lives are happy and there is no need for comparison, as long as they meet brothers and sisters again, the comparison will recur out of an instinctive sense of competition. Many disputes in adulthood are actually a continuation of childhood conflicts.
| Coexistence |
A 44-year-old librarian sat at the dining table and picked up one of a stack of photos: “This was taken in 1996 before I left home for college, dad, mum and our nine children – four sons , five daughters.” The
children’s age gap is 14 years old, and as the eldest sister, she has an innate sense of responsibility. Every day, she takes care of her younger siblings, reads children’s books to them, and accompanies them to do handicrafts. When the father lost his job and the future was uncertain, and the mother was too tired to handle the housework and had no time to take care of the children, she was also comforting her younger siblings.
”Looking back, I think it’s pretty good.” She looked at the photo and said, “I learned to get along with different people and become very responsible while taking care of my younger siblings.”
Living with siblings and cooperating , There are comparisons, there are losses, we must unite, strive for, and endure. Only children may experience these when they get along with peers, but not as often as those with siblings.
”We live together with different problems and life experiences: anorexia, dysgraphia, rebellious periods, divorce, having children, working in different fields… I’m grateful to be able to experience a rich life from my siblings.” However, the librarian was also a little disappointed, “I pay too little attention to myself, after all, everyone is counting on me.”
Beon Abst, the youngest of seven, recalled: “We always swept away in ten minutes a meal that my mother spent hours cooking.”
Still innocent, Beon Abster, 74, is the youngest in the family with five older brothers and one older sister. His father was a village pastor in Bafu, and he was always in his office. The mother spends a lot of time doing housework, and the task of taking care of him falls on the older brothers and sisters, especially the eldest brother. “I adore my big brother, and I still think of what he said now and then,” Abster said. Even when he grows up, he always behaves like a child in the group, “I always feel that someone will help me when I encounter difficulties.”
The changes in the environment of the times also affect the relationship between their siblings. Abster’s oldest brother was born during the war, and at the age of ten he was forced to run the house when his father was in the army. When a few younger brothers were in their teens, they experienced Germany’s reconstruction and prosperity. Different experiences have made them still arguing about various topics: NATO’s dual strategy, anti-authority education, refugees… At family gatherings, they often quarrel, and finally parted ways. All in place. In the past few years, two brothers have passed away, and when one of them was unable to work due to illness, the others immediately pooled the money to buy him a house. “Regardless of the contradictions, we are always inseparable,” Abst said.
From 2021, the Stray sisters have been living together with their partners and children.
Abster’s ex-wife Yanni, 58, finds it hard to accept repeated arguments. Her only sister died of cancer more than 20 years ago: “I still have a lot to say to her, and I never thought she would die so early.” The two sisters were born in the GDR, and the sister was sent to her as requested shortly after her birth. Went to the nursery so that the mother could continue to work. Yani was only allowed to be brought home after she was born, so she has always been hostile to her sister. After the parents divorced, the mother had no time to take care of the conflicts between them. My sister would beat Yani up for such trivial things as washing dishes and clothes. At the age of 14, Yani finally couldn’t help but hit her sister fiercely, and then her sister gave up.
According to Sabina Wabo, director of the German Youth Institute, about 10 to 15 percent of children in Germany are now being bullied or abused by siblings. The experience of getting along with her sister made Yani always deliberately distance herself from the family she was supposed to be close to. “It’s something I can’t get rid of,” she said. “To this day, there are people who say I’m cold and I want to cry.”
| Intimacy |
Lisa Stray, 33, and her sister Laura, two years older, have moved in under the same roof with their husbands and children. Each small family has a separate room, shared living room and two bathrooms.
”Our sisters have a great relationship and it’s impossible to turn our backs on each other, but I also know it’s not just us who live together,” Lisa said. In this rented apartment, they plan to live together for three years first, and they have agreed to end this lifestyle if too many unpleasant things happen.
Many brothers and sisters were busy and formed families when they were young, and only had the opportunity to reunite and live together in old age. “We are very happy to be able to live together now,” Laura said. “Especially during the epidemic, we will not feel alone at all.” In the past 15 years, they have worked and lived in different cities, but whenever they have the opportunity They talk on the phone or visit each other, and their parents’ divorce has brought them closer.
A few days ago, the sisters had an argument over their children. “It wasn’t really a big deal, but I felt that Laura didn’t correct her son’s mistakes in time,” Lisa said. “It reminded me of when I was a kid, Laura would occasionally get out of the way.”
”I didn’t realize it before . That question, so glad you pointed that out,” Laura said. The sisters’ open and honest way of communicating comes from their mother’s teaching. As an outstanding teacher, my mother asked the sisters to sit next to her every time they had an argument and to express their thoughts.
| Fair |
Numerous studies have shown that parental attitudes towards children directly affect the relationship between children. Parents should pay attention to the different needs of their children, while also making them feel that they are being treated fairly. The same pair of parents looks different to every child, because with the birth and growth of the child, the parents themselves also grow and change. Unintentionally favoring a certain child can easily become the fuse of conflict and competition between children, and it will also cause long-term harm to children who have fallen out of favor, making them more prone to fear, hesitation and lack of self-confidence.
The situation is especially complicated for restructured families. The sudden addition of siblings, the changing family rank, and especially the new baby in the new family, changed everything. However, this cannot be generalized. Whether siblings in a restructured family can live in peace and love also depends on whether they live together.
Martha Kohler, 22, flipped through photos of family reunions on her phone, her brother in his 30s and her half-brother, and her two half-brothers, 16 and 18. Her parents separated when she was one year old, but her mother tried to keep her with her father on weekends. On her mother’s side, she was her brother’s little sister, but at her father’s house, she became a big sister again. “I never thought that our father or mother were not the same person, they were my brothers,” Martha said.
Because Martha got along well with her father’s two young sons, Martha’s mother finally became good friends with her father’s youngest son’s mother, and the two families spent Christmas together last year. It can be said that it is the pleasant relationship that makes brothers and sisters close, rather than a simple blood relationship.
Martha Kohler, from the restructured family, said: “I never thought about whether our father or mother were the same person, they were my brothers.”
| break |
Parents’ actions can also lead to a rupture in the relationship between children. “I’m dying to have a close family,” said Karin Ongri, a 57-year-old freelance journalist. “But our parents have been preventing it.”
Karin’s mother, the sole heir of a family business, did not want to If you want children, you need someone to inherit the family business. Karin’s father also regards marriage as a stepping stone to a successful career. After giving birth to two daughters, they finally have their long-awaited son.
The mother wants her children to be antagonistic, so she always encourages them to expose wrongdoers behind their backs, and if anyone defends each other, then everyone is punished. After Karin left her hometown for college, her parents managed to cut her off from her younger siblings, and every attempt to reunite with them ended in “breaks”. “I just wanted a whole family. However, after my father died, we would still quarrel over wills and be hostile to each other.” Karin hasn’t been in touch with her younger siblings for seven years, not even going back when her mother died.
A complete break with a sibling can leave scars that can’t be healed, and equal communication between siblings can help maintain mental health.
Karin Ongry’s mother always encourages her children to tell each other when they make mistakes. If they shield each other, they will all be punished.
| way out |
Psychiatrist Doros Lauterbach believes that a complete break with a sibling can leave scars that cannot be healed, and that equal communication between siblings can help maintain mental health. Parents should treat their children equally and avoid comparing several children. At the same time, children should learn to think about each other, compare their hearts with each other, and understand the difficulties of others. These can only be practiced continuously through communication, meditation, or self-reflection. “If you want to change your relationship with others, you must first change yourself,” Lauterbach said. “Many conflicts may not be completely eliminated, but we can learn how to bear them.”
Wiener felt that if his sister didn’t always try to point him, he would They can also be more relaxed, and their relationship will be much better. For Karin, her mother’s death was an opportunity to ease her relationship with her younger siblings. After seven years of estrangement, she returned to Switzerland to work with them on her mother’s legacy. That reunion allowed them to find a more comfortable way to get along. Now, every time she returns to Zurich, she asks her younger siblings out for a coffee or lunch, but that’s about it. “It’s good,” she said. “We are all embarrassed about what happened before. If we could, we would also like to have a different childhood.”
[Compiled from German “Der Spiegel”]
Editor: Zhou Dandan
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