Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for our many blessings, as well as a time to gather together with siblings and parents. Very often, sibling relationships can be strained due to personality differences and old childhood wounds. No matter your age, siblings can bring up old resentments, jealousy, and unresolved conflicts during times like this. At a family function, often the psychological roles, rules and ways of relating as children emerge. In Family Systems Therapy, these roles include “the family hero/good child” “the mascot/youngest/funniest” “the lost child/quiet one” “the rebel/problem child” “the caretaker/responsible one” and “the mastermind/opportunist.” Which role did you play?
Most adults try to heal themselves through counseling to break free from their old, undesirable childhood role within the family, but leave it to your siblings to put you right back there emotionally when you are together! If a sibling was controlling or negative to you as a child, he won’t seem to understand or respect the adult that you have become, nor will he want to hear of your recent accomplishments. Even a few hours of sibling exposure can ruin the spiritual and emotional growth you have done to overcome any childhood pain as a result of long-term, unresolved issues with their siblings.
There are some things you can do help improve a strained sibling relationship:
- Remember, you are celebrating Thanksgiving, a time to feel gratitude for life and all its glory. Keep this spiritual message deep within you and keep this feeling of knowing you are blessed throughout your day. Be determined that no one can take away your bliss. If a sibling tries to start an issue with you, go to another room, say you’d rather not talk about it, or change the subject. Do something different with another family member.
- Forgive and let go of the past. Neither of you can change old dysfunctional childhood dynamics. Let it go, because you were both emotionally immature to settle issues while young. When facing a difficult sibling, use the “Watch Me! Mindset” as described in my book, LIVE Beyond Your Dreams – from Fear and Doubt to Personal Power, Purpose and Success to empower you, raise your self-esteem and confidence levels. Live consciously in “the now” and focus on creating a totally new relationship for the future by extending love, and not allowing past fear, anger or resentments to ruin your day. Forgiving helps you be a better person and removes you from the role of victim which gives you a sense of personal emotional power and control.
- Be “socially polite” to any difficult family member and be certain not to bring up the past, or discuss any personal hot topics of theirs. Many siblings get jealous over the success of another, so you will see them shut down, challenge, or belittle you, to avoid discussing any of your recent successes, which is a shame; as your family should be the most proud of you. You can’t control what your siblings might say or do, but you have the full ability to control your reaction to it.
- If your sibling did anything abusive or sexually molested you, don’t feel you need to be at the same gathering as them. See a professional Relationship Coach or Therapist to help you deal this pain from the past and to work up a plan to approach your sibling only when you feel ready.
- Choose to have a smaller Thanksgiving with your immediate family, or treat yourselves to a nice dinner out. Decide to surround yourself with only positive people.
- This holiday, practice spiritual meditation or prayer; so you can approach your difficult sibling from a place of peace and love. Be positive and non-blaming. If they said you did something wrong to them as children, then apologize sincerely and ask for you both to try for a more loving and respectful relationship presently and in the future. Tell them you are happy to see them, and wish for a lovely day to share with them and the family.
Be proud that you tried to heal old childhood issues and let go of the result. About 65% of siblings are willing to heal the past and have a new relationship. So go for it! Life is too short to hold on to anger, resentment and old grudges over issues that cannot be changed. Celebrate your sibling’s successes, and they are more apt to celebrate yours. Be focused and emotionally prepared to be a loving source of peace and light this Holiday season. I wish you many Blessings!