Sibling rivalry is one of humanity's oldest problems. One of the first stories in the Bible deals with the rivalry between two brothers, Cain and Abel. The older brother, Cain, was irritated at constantly having to help take care of his younger brother, Abel, and kept asking his parents: "Am I my brother's keeper?" The story of these two brothers has a tragic ending; Cain becomes so angry that he kills Abel. The fact that this is one of the first stories within the Bible shows the great importance given to the problem of sibling rivalry.
By "sibling rivalry" we mean the hostility between brothers and/or sisters, which turns itself into situations ranging from common children's fights to more serious cases such as permanent hatred between adult siblings.
It is not difficult to find the root cause of sibling rivalry. Nature offers us many examples. In nature, the competition is usually for food. For example, as baby sharks develop within the mother shark's womb, the biggest baby shark devours all of his brothers and sisters, ensuring for himself all of the available food resources. In another example, eagles make their nests at great heights, in mountains or trees. The first baby eaglet that is born kills all his sibling eaglets by pushing them out from the nest as they come out of their eggs. That way all the food that the mother eagle brings will be only for him. A similar competition exists between siblings in human families. However, here the scarce resources are the TIME, ATTENTION, LOVE and APPROVAL that the parents can give to each of their children. Looking at this situation in very simple terms, if the parents have only a certain limited amount of exclusive time to give to ALL their children, it is easy to see that if there is only ONE child in that family, ALL of the parents' available time will be for that only child; if there are TWO children in the family, then each child...
Cited: "Sibling Rivalry" http://people.ne.mediaone.net/gmcgum/siblingrivlary.html (1 Nov.1998).
Spock, Dr. Benjamin. Baby and Child Care. New York: Wallaby Books, 1977.
Story of Cain and Abel. Bible, New International
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