The nightmare that is grown siblings not getting along.

It can be a nightmare for parents (and the rest of the family) when the grown kids just don’t get along.

Sibling rivalry can be so bad families are forced to hold two separate functions so each can attend without running into the other. It really is the stuff of nightmares.

Trying to manage a family in which siblings are at war is a nightmare. In fact it’s safe to say that my worst nightmare as a parent would be for my children to grow up and not get along.

Having seen families fracture for years over the most minor of insults, I’m determined that my children won’t suffer the same fate.

“Love each other,” I tell them. “Look after each other.”

“Remember you are family. Never, ever fight so much that you forget you are meant to love each other and be there for each other.”

They look at me in confusion. They don’t yet understand just how horrific sibling disagreements can be as adults, how the entire family can be affected and how sad it makes the parents who just want everyone to get along.

Advertisement

The last text I received from my sister. Article continues after this video.

When siblings are young and stuck under the same roof fighting, disagreements and squabbles are normal, everyday (sometimes hourly) events. Watching them, though, I can’t help but wonder if their current, minor differences will become full-blown divisions later in life. It would break my heart if they grew up and I could not see them all together in the one room because they were fighting.

Nina and Billie Proudman have had their share of squabbles. Image: Network Ten

My little brother is quite a bit younger than me (four years) so when I moved away from home he was still in high school so it's like we grew up separately for a while there. Things might have been different if we were all in the same place and saw each other more regularly. Kate, 25.

My little brother (aged 32) is the only person who can say to me something like, "You look like shit Jo, what's wrong?" and not upset me. However with one of my sisters saying, "You look great" in the wrong tone leads to all out war.

We do our best not to fight over silly things but for some reason it is inevitable. We just rub each other the wrong way.

 

My siblings and I get on great, however my brothers' wives do NOT like each other and it is a nightmare, so much stuff has to be done separately. It’s a massive shame. For example, when I was back home in November - we did something with everyone together, which included three kids under two and it was a disaster. The girls didn’t even say hello to each other. My mum flat out refused to cook for them all for the rest of my trip back. It was such an awful waste. Lucy, 32.

I'm assured by friends that this is normal in some families, particularly when there has been tension since childhood in the form of perceived parental favouritism, birth order issues and bullying.

You were always the favourite.

Mum and Dad let you do everything.

Just because you're the oldest doesn't mean you know everything.

In the Thor movies he and brother Loki hate each other so much at times that the entire world's fate is in their hands. Image: Paramount Pictures

Can you say it nicely? You don't have to be rude about it.

You always got away with everything.

Even when we were little you never admitted to anything being you're fault. I'm so sick of it.

Any of this sounding familiar?

I get along with my brother great, but my mum and her own brother *do not* see one another. At all. It's probably been about eight years and the way they manage it is fairly simple: never see one another. It's easier because he lives in a regional town, but it also means that I don't see my cousins. We never have family functions, Christmas is always separate. My grandma might bring him up every now and then, but it's shut down pretty quickly. Laura, 29.

Anna didn't even know Elsa could freeze things with her hands until they were fully grown. Image: Frozen, Walt Disney Studios

When siblings are at war there is no end to how ridiculous it can get for the rest of the family. If one or both refuse to be in each other's company it can mean multiple family functions including holidays, birthdays, farewells and anything else that requires a get-together or celebration.

It can be heartbreaking stuff.

My brother and I are very very different people and we love each other but we can pretty much only have a five minute conversation before one of us pisses off the other one. Nicole, 26.

And good luck trying to stay out of it. "I'm not taking sides, I just had coffee with her!?!"

 

Sitting Shiva is easier said than done when siblings are fighting. Image: This Is Where I Leave You, Warner Bros

 

Mum always says it's her greatest achievement in life that we're all so close. I hate seeing siblings who don't talk to each other, there is nothing sadder. Sarah, 30.

Adding to existing family dramas resulting from personality differences is the addition of new family members through marriage and the effect it can have when some of those new family members leave through divorce.

What then for siblings?

I have heard stories of siblings siding with the in law over their blood sibling, which causes no end of issues for the entire family.

My mum was really, really close with her younger brother but he had a messy divorce and mum kinda couldn't forgive him for abandoning his kids. It makes me sad. Holly, 22.

 

Blood is thicker than water, a fact that brings most families closer together but for some that is the very reason why they have trouble getting along.

We can only hope that our children's endless bickering doesn't transfer to their adult sibling relationship and if does my advice is to simply avoid taking sides and perhaps duck and cover on the odd occasion it blows up right in front of you.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
FROM OUR NETWORK