Sibling Relationship During the Teenage Years (13 Years – 19 Years)

 Sibling relationships can be complicated throughout the teenage years because teenagers go through substantial physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that may impact their relationships with their siblings. During adolescence, siblings may quarrel and disagree more frequently as they express their individuality and form their identities (Hummel et al., 2017). 

They might also feel animosity or jealousy towards one another, especially if they think one sibling is getting more support or resources than the other. During puberty, siblings may also become more competitive, especially if they are close in age or share the same interests. Sibling rivalry and animosity may result from this. 

During this period, sibling relationships will also shift. The number of siblings in the household, whether older or younger than the adolescent youth, and the distance years between them will affect how drastic these changes are (Hummel et al., 2017). Young people may start to distance themselves from their younger siblings in their early adolescence, especially those still in their early and middle childhood.

Teenager’s Relationship with Younger Sibling

Teenagers may believe they have little in common with their younger siblings and that interacting with them is simply “too kiddy” when their interests shift and mature. Teens highly value their privacy and enjoy the exclusivity of their peer relationships; thus, they could grow increasingly irritated with attempts by their younger siblings to participate in activities. The constant efforts of a younger sibling to establish a peer-like connection with their developing sibling or sister are frequently viewed as intrusive (Redquest et al., 2021). The question of trust is another concern for younger siblings and teenagers. Teenagers are aware that their younger siblings have close relationships with their parents. When teenagers assert their individuality and separate themselves from their parents, this parent-sibling loyalty might make them feel distrusted. Teenagers know that younger siblings may divulge to parents information about rule violations or other matters they prefer to keep confidential. Parents should not reward or encourage a younger child for “tattle-telling” on their older sister because this helps to exacerbate sibling rivalry and alienation.

Parental Guidance and Assistance to Sibling and Teenager Relationship

Younger siblings may need parental guidance and assistance to respect a teen’s privacy (Redquest et al., 2021). Situations endangering a teen’s health or safety may require an exception to the no-tattle policy (drug use, suicide, etc.). Bonds with older siblings are also subject to change. When younger teens see an unfair disparity between an older sibling’s freedom and privileges and their own, they may feel some jealousy and resentment toward them. The maturity required to handle the same responsibility as their older brother is lacking in younger teens. Regrettably, younger siblings rarely see it this way and instead protest, “It is not fair!” For parents trying to create boundaries that reflect each child’s developmental stage of maturity, this can be frustrating (Teens and family relationships: Siblings, 2019). Parents must consider each child’s needs and talents to strike the right balance between responsibility and freedom, even though it may seem alluring to give in to the requests of the younger adolescent for more independence.

Older Sibling Guidance and Assistance to Sibling and Teenager Relationship

In some cases, asking the older brother or sister for assistance can be beneficial. Teenagers often become closer to their older and younger siblings towards the middle of adolescence since they are closest in age. By late adolescence, sibling ties will still be robust, especially if they had a close relationship when they were younger. By the late teenage years, siblings who do not have a significant age gap will frequently become closer because they go through the same struggles, highs, and lows. Due to their increasing cognitive maturity, even adolescents with much younger siblings are less inclined to be bothered by their siblings. These more mature teens now comprehend the desires and needs of their younger siblings (Teens and family relationships: Siblings, 2019). As a result, they can treat their younger siblings with more tolerance and kindness.

The rivalry between Teenagers, their Siblings, and Parents

Some youth do not eventually come to terms with their disagreements with their parents and mend their ties with siblings, even though most teenagers in the latter stages of adolescence will. Some young people may be healthier and more satisfied without specific family members  for various reasons (Teens and family relationships: Siblings, 2019). Unfortunately, the damage that such dysfunctional relationships frequently cause in the long run cannot be entirely undone by merely ending extremely stressful, harmful, or abusive partnerships. To avoid developing mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, alcohol usage, and other drug use in the future, these adolescents may ultimately benefit from speaking with a mental health expert. Siblings frequently debate over justice and equality in the context of conflict domains, as well as personal domain invasion. Negative sibling relationships for older and younger siblings have been linked to personal domain invasions (Teens and family relationships: Siblings, 2019). In circumstances of poor sibling adjustment, the drawbacks of traditional rivalry and conflict likely outweigh the advantages of any possible support.

Conclusion

In conclusion, one element of sibling interaction that has been demonstrated to mitigate the negative consequences of sibling rivalry is encouragement. When siblings support and respect one another’s opinions, pay attention to one another, and accept one another, their relationships tend to be closer and more satisfying. Furthermore, siblings may bond even more when they genuinely “push” one another to succeed. Moreover, warmth in the sibling connection has been linked to reduced levels of social issues and a negative correlation with externalizing problems in teenagers, such as violence. The younger siblings’ opinions of their older siblings have been linked to the influence that their older siblings have on them.

A better social adjustment is connected to the assistance received from an older sibling, but only when the younger sibling has a favorable opinion of their elder sibling. This finding adds to the list of advantages that come from having healthy sibling relationships. The more beneficial the sibling relationship is, the more impactful the older sibling can be in fostering a healthy transition in their younger sibling. Children with strong ties to their siblings may generate more positive beliefs about the individuals around them, similar to how social competence develops. This reduces the possibility of internalizing and externalizing behaviors because they would start new relationships with a sense of assurance and trust in other individuals.

References

Hummel, A., Shelton, K. H., Heron, J., Moore, L., & van den Bree, M. B. (2017). A systematic review of the relationships between family functioning, pubertal timing and adolescent substance use. Addiction108(3), 487-496.

Redquest, B. K., Tint, A., Ries, H., & Lunsky, Y. (2021). Exploring the experiences of siblings of adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research65(1), 1-10

Teens and family relationships: Siblings (2019) MentalHelp.net. Available at: https://www.mentalhelp.net/relationships/siblings/ (Accessed: March 10, 2023).

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