Siblings: Love 'em? Hate 'em?

Siblings can be our best friends or our worst enemies, and sometimes getting along with our brothers and sisters can be a huge challenge and can shake up the whole family. Philip Galanes, New York Times Social Q’s columnist (who has 2 brothers), offers his sage advice on how to deal with siblings—rivalries and all. 

Parents can play a major role in how siblings interact with one another, both as children and as adults. “Based on the letters that come in to me, I see that the more mothers and fathers try to intervene [between their kids], the weirder and the more complicated the competitiveness and anger gets.”

Several listeners called in about their estranged siblings. Galanes notes, “There are so few people who will know us like our brothers and sisters and it’s a sadness not to have them in our lives.” But that doesn’t mean that you should always pursue a relationship with a tricky sibling. “If they only represent pain and they only represent…feeling less than every time you’re with them, why subject yourself to it?” 

Whatever problem you’re facing with your brother or sister, Galanes says it helps to keep this in mind: “It’s never the family you wished for…and yet somehow we have to persist and live with them.”

Galanes is the author of Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today