Making Friends in Family
WHEN Joan gave birth to the first boy in her family in three generations, she and her husband were ecstatic. So were her parents. Joan expected her older sister, Sally, to be just as delighted. Joan had always worshiped Sally—the beauty and the star of the family—and rejoiced in her achievements.
But since the baby's arrival, the sisters have become distant. Joan feels hurt that Sally seems completely uninterested in little Andrew. Sally, who had no children, claims that her younger sister "acts as if no one ever had a baby
Neither Sally nor Joan understands that the sudden reversal in their family roles is the real cause of the current chill. Joan has finally outdone her dominant older sister—and Sally doesn't like it! Their distance may be temporary, but it shows that childhood rivalry (竞争) isn't always outgrown. It can remain a strong ingredient in sibling(兄弟姐妹) relationships throughout life.
In a study at the University of Cincinnati, 65 men and women between ages 25 and 93 were asked how they felt about their brothers and sisters. Nearly 75 percent admitted harboring rivalrous feelings. In a few cases, these emotions were sufficiently intense to have affected their entire lives.
Many adult brothers and sisters are close, supportive and affectionate—yet still need to compete. Two brothers I know turn into killers when on opposite sides of a tennis net. Off the court, they are the best of friends. My own younger sister never fails to tell me when I've put on weight.. However, she's a terrible cook and that pleases me; I outdo myself when she comes to dinner. Happily, despite these small failings, we have been an important resource for one
In between the intensely rivalrous and the generally supportive siblings lie those who relate in an irritable manner that no friendship should survive. Some brothers and sisters stay at arm's length, but always stop short ot ending ties completely. Why do these puzzling, unproductive, often painful relationships
In part because the bonds forged in childhood remain powerful even after siblings have grown up and gone their separate ways. These relationships are so intimate that the participants share a closeness unlike any other. But along with the affection contributing to that closeness, there is room for anger, jealousy and resentment.
Stephen Bank, a family therapist and co-author with Michael D. Kahn of The Sibling Bond, explains why: "There are few adults who don't believe deep down that a sibling got more of something than they did—parental love, advantages, brains, looks. It could be true, but it really doesn't matter. If, as adults, they're successful enough to feel on an equal footing, siblings can give each other a great deal. If not, unresolved feelings can distort their relationships. "
The need for parental love is as instinctive as breathing, and the struggle to keep it all for yourself begins with the birth of a younger sister or brother. According to Bank, when the rivalry between adult siblings achieves neurotic(精神病的)
proportions, it can usually be traced back either to marked parental favoritism or to one sibling's conviction that the other is superior.
A study of adult sisters, described in the book Sisters by Elizabeth Fishel, points up how important it is for parents to treat their children even-handedly. Those sisters who reported the best relationships were the ones who said there had been no favoritism, no parental comparisons and no pitting of one child against another.
Social scientists who have studied adult sibling relationships say it is common for them to blow hot and cold. Situations that might be expected to bring them together—the birth of a child, the illness or death of a parent—are well known for reviving old rivalries.
Instead of uniting in their concern for an ill parent, siblings often quarrel bitterly over who provides the most care, financial support or affection, according to Victor Cicirelli, a Purdue University Psychologist. And probate (遗嘱检验) lawyers say the bitterest quarrels erupt when siblings have to divide a parent's personal property.
The break between Jill and Patty might have been closed by now if Jill's husband hadn't been so quick to take his wife's side. "If spouses want to be constructive when siblings quarrel, they need to remain emotionally neutral," Bank advises. "It's a line to be supportive, provided they remember the goal is to help their mates be more objective and not inflame feelings further. "
As they get older, many adults say they wish they were on better terms with brothers or sisters. In the next breath, however, they add that it's probably impossible. "We always get hung up on the same old sore points" is a
familiar lament (悲伤).
"That needn't be true," says Bank. "Almost any relationship can be
improved if people are willing to put energy into making it more satisfying.
People must recognize that their childhood rivalries are left over from a struggle
that was very likely the fault of neither. If they can see that, it will help them to
stop feeling guilty or blaming each other the way they did at age twelve. "
Siblings often hesitate to disclose long-concealed feelings of anger or
jealousy, inferiority or guilt. But after these feelings are brought out, there's a
much better chance to improve the relationship.
" Speaking out honestly about rivalrous feelings is the first step," says Bank. "But it's essential to get beyond accusations and talk positively about what each might do to improve things. " People often don't let their siblings know how much they care, Bank adds. "Don't be afraid to say, 'I really love you,'" he advises. "And show your affection—a hug, a compliment or a thoughtful gift can heal a lot of wounds. "
When siblings can get past their rivalries, they may find they are bound by closer, longer—lasting ties than those with any other person in their lives. I'm deeply thankful that my sister and I are friends, although we've also seen each other through rough times in ways no one else could. Someday, she may be the only person I know who remembers a long-ago Christmas or laughs at the same jokes. I don't think I'll even mind if she tells me I'm putting on weight.
1. According to the passage, competition between siblings plays a powerful role in the sibling relationships in one's entire life.
2. When siblings have grown up, they will easily forget their childhood rivalries and be on better terms with each other.
3. The way parents treat their children affects, to a great extent, sibling relationships.
4. The author and her sister are friendly with each other because their parents always treat them even-handedly.
5. There are little rivalries between the siblings who are close, supportive and affectionate.
6. Parental favoritism and a belief that the other is superior may trigger childhood competition which may last even at adulthood.
7. It is beneficial to sibling relationships if a husband shows support to his wife when she quarrels with her sister.
8. Sally's attitude when Joan had a baby is______.
9. Self-disclosure brings the opportunities to better the______.
10. The more you put on the relationship, the more satisfying it will be.
答案：I. Y 2. N 3. Y 4. NG 5. N 6. Y 7. N 8. uninterested 9. sibling relationship 10. energy