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Problems with adult siblings(28 Posts)
I'm oldest of three. All in our 50s. Sister 4 years younger (no kids) and brother 6 years younger (3 kids - 2 ex-wives). Have never been close to siblings and I had a traumatic childhood including being sexually assaulted at age 10 and emotionally & physically abused at a convent between ages of 10-12. My siblings did not have either of these experiences. Major falling out with sister two years ago regarding her failure to help with aging mother. Sister launched into a diatribe in a restaurant in front of my daughter (then 18) criticising me for my real & perceived short-comings one of which was that I did not show her the "soft side" which I show my daughter. Apologised to my daughter but not to me. I want nothing more to do with her because she evidently wants something from me that I am unable to provide. Brother lives overseas but on a recent visit, he visited everyone else save me. We have always got on OK and I have been very supportive of his eldest daughter over the years. Frankly, I am disgusted that he has apparently sided with my sister. I want nothing more to do with him. There is so much more but I don't feel like writing War & Peace (although very little peace in this story). Has anyone else experienced problems with siblings in adulthood?
Yes. Toxic siblings - look it up.
I am now NC with my toxic siblings. Yay! Not a day too soon - actually about 30 years late.
War and Peace indeed! Never ever ever ending shit and scapegoating. Glad to dump the lot of it/them for good - bliss!
just waiting for my parents to die to be shot of them too
Yes my sister nearly broke my heart (in our 40s).
You have your family, you don't need them or need their crap. Just disengage and enjoy your own family.
You are not alone. My brother sided with family against me and is now whining about being off the Christmas list.
But on another point, how do you know your siblings never experienced abuse, and why do you feel that is relevant to what is happening now?
To answer your questions - the abuse happened when I was sent on holiday to Malta with a "friend" and her family. My mother belittled me when I tried to tell her upon my return. Neither my brother nor my sister were there. Also neither went to the same school as me. I told my brother recently and he was appalled. I suppose I feel that it is relevant because there has always been conflict between siblings who were treated very differently in childhood. My mother insists (to this day) that she treated us all equally which is patently untrue. She has favoured my brother in many ways including financially and has recently changed her Will to remove me as her executor in favour of my brother. She refuses to acknowledge his shortcomings or that he has any responsibility for kicking his wife out of family home with two children under 2 and allowing second wife to cause untold damage to these children as teenagers. My sister is an artist like my mother so they have much in common. In truth, the original fault lies with my mother whose motto should have been "Divide & Rule". The damage continues to this day and whilst I have been able to move on in some ways - happily married, successful business & lovely well balanced daughter - the family issues rear their ugly heads from time to time and I now feel the time has come to cut all ties with all of them.
Thanks for the advice. I would love to disengage but the feelings are like a disease which sometimes goes into remission but then comes back with a vengeance.
I am virtually no contact with my brother since he called me an effing c-word in front of the rest of the family during a Christmas visit a few years ago. This was in response to me pulling him up on some homophobic nonsense he was coming out with about a family friend. I grew up in a toxic, emotionally abusive home and he was the golden child. He's one of the angriest, most entitled, most agressive, most miserable people I know. I was under huge pressure from my parents to forgive and forget (and there were loads of excuses made for his behaviour) but I got sick and tired of taking the high road and playing nice. Life is a lot calmer without him around.
I'm low contact with parents and moderate contact with sister, although I've had to manage my expectations of her. We get along fine when talking about clothes and make up and other fluffy stuff that we have in common, but I get absolutely zero emotional support from her, despite offering lots of support myself. I feel angry about it but am working towards accepting our relationship for what it is
Its tough OP.
I have two warring sisters, i dont engage and see them equally. I dont take sides and they accept this. Not sure why they would.
Just seen your most recent message. Your mother sounds very like mine - divide and rule indeed. My parents would swear until the end that we were all treated equally. Whatever - I know the truth and you know the truth about your family too.
'I would love to disengage but the feelings are like a disease which sometimes goes into remission but then comes back with a vengeance.'
This is just part of the deal I'm afraid. I've been in therapy for 6 years and have spent the last 2-3 years deep in grief for my family and I find that the feelings still resurface from time to time. They get easier to manage and less intense though. DP and I will be spending Xmas by ourselves this year, which is what we want to do, and I'm still having mild feelings of guilt about 'abandoning' my parents and not doing what I'm expected to do i.e. spend Xmas with them and do everything their way. It's very sad and very difficult but you are not alone in your experience. I hope that helps x
I'm NC with my brother due to the way him and his wife treated me during my pregnancy. They put me through hell and took out their anger and frustrations about their fertility problems on me. My brother and I had a very traumatic childhood and the only stability we had was each other which makes this fall out doubly hard.
Sorry I can't offer any advice OP, I'm still trying to make sense of it all to myself
Thanks for the posts & supportive messages. I guess it's just a question of accepting that I cannot change other people but can try and change the way I feel about them. Maybe forthcoming Xmas brings family issues to the fore because of the memories of miserable times as a child. Am so proud that my own child has very happy memories both of Xmas and her school days. I certainly didn't learn my parenting skills from my own mother!
i feel you OP, i was cast into the role of 'scapegoat/underdog/odd one out/black sheep growing up and the rest of the family has never changed their view or treatment of me - despite me being totally independent and never needing them for anything since i turned 18.
unfortunately we get stuck with the 'roles' we get given in childhood, and whilst we can change our own roles and attitudes we can't make others change.
The only way to rid yourself of the 'disease' is to detach from them emotionally and only interact with them on YOUR terms, which means never allowing their shitty behaviour to go unchallenged. It means more often than not going at least low contact in order to keep your own sanity or showing them that you will NOT be pushed around and treated like shit.
You are NOT the bad person or 'problem child' they're making you out to be - nobody has the right to tell you who YOU are today. They, especially your sister, seem to be projecting their own issues on to you. i would EXPECT my siblings to be more 'open' and affectionate towards their own children than they ever have been to me - it's not like we ever had a close relationship and things have suddenly changed. If i had kids i too would be more open and affectionate with them than i am with my siblings - and it would be a cold day in hell that i would allow ANYONE to try and make me feel bad/guilty for being so.
I wonder if the 'divide and rule ' parenting style is really about keeping the attention on themselves, so that siblings have to compete for attention.
I'm NC with both my siblings. I enjoy the peace and simplicity of life without them .
I'm NC with my half sister and half brother. After our mother died we drifted apart anyway. My sis makes it obvious she only has time for her new partner and my bro makes his wife's family priority....fair enough.
They aren't missed much. I am [was] the family scapegoat/punchbag so am enjoying the peace now. Lonely though it is, I avoid a lot of stress/being judged.
I always say with my mother she would never have had any problem answering the question of which child to save from a burning building if it could only be one - it would always be my brother. He can do no wrong.
Reading all these posts makes me realise how many messed up families are out there. The last time I saw my sister she caused a scene when I went to pick up my brother. I deliberately waited outside in the car so I did not have to engage with her but she came down, opened the car door whilst my brother was loading his luggage and started a conversation about our relationship to which I did not react well but it was neither the time nor the place for her to raise "issues". She made my brother's final day in the UK all about her because that was what we ended up discussing. She is totally selfish, self-obsessed but because she expresses herself in a softer way than I do, she is "vulnerable" & "passive" etc whereas I am branded as aggressive and what I am actually saying is dismissed. This is why I am now NC with her. On my last visit to my mother last month, it became clear to me that I do not like my mother - she is a judgmental woman who should not have had children. I had kept in contact with her & my sister partly for my daughter's sake but as she is now grown up she can maintain the relationships on her own without my involvement. Now all I need to do is stop thinking about it all and be happy with what I do have.
Boxing my brother needles me in 'invisible' ways, eg not replying to emails and texts, ignoring things I say, saying that I haven't told him stuff that I have told him etc etc. Then he tells people that I won't speak to him and he 'really doesn't understand' why because all he's ever done is support me and love me.
But I look like the baddie/crazy one because when we do meet I'm already on my guard and get angry/exasperated very quickly.
'I wonder if the 'divide and rule ' parenting style is really about keeping the attention on themselves, so that siblings have to compete for attention'
Very interesting point Imbroglio. My mother was never happier than when 2 others in the family were at odds with each other - she would either sweep in and be the 'reasonable' one and 'sort it all out' (doing nothing of the sort of course), or would thoroughly enjoy good bitching sessions with one person about the other behind their back. Either way, she was at the heart of the storm.
I can identify with all your posts I am the youngest of five 2 brothers who live abroad one ok and one who I bearly know partly because he has a v difficult wife. I also have 2 sisters 1 always plays victim which has at times got her alot of attention and the other who has bullied me most of my life buf in the last 5 years I have learnt to manage her and that has made a big difference. By being indifferent helps to reduce their power with your sister 'boxing mum' if you grt into an altercation w her count to 10 and just walk away she is not worth your valuable attention or energy. Sounds liks you r definitely getting there it is hard what I find works best w my sisters is not to give them any ammunition so they can't spray you with it later. Hairdress talk and keeping to safe subjects like the weather best way
It is v hard to walk away from family altogehter but as my 2 sisters don't live that near I can limit the amount I see them and these days I have no expectations so can't get upset. In the past I have been on the floor for a week after visiting eldestvsister she was so mean but now I don't allow her to have the power and that has made a big difference
Good luck you can do it
makes me realise how many messed up families are out there
There was another thread recently about 'how was your childhood'. I can't find it now.
It was heartbreaking to see the stories on there.
I am very very lucky to have the family I do and I appreciate them massively.
for you OP. I can't imagine what this must be like for you.
I've been thinking about my siblings a lot recently. My DC are very close and support each other and have a warm and loving relationship which I am happy about. My DP talks to his DSis most days on the phone.
In contrast I am one of four, all sent away to boarding school and very distant. I hardly know my DBs and it is only by persistence that I stay close to my DSis. If I don't ring them up or see them at the DPs house I wouldn't have any contact. Yet we all get on, politely. There are no squabbles and we are all friendly sociable people. It's like they don't need me, or find me really dull! I am sad because I would like to have a closer family. I envy what my DC and my DP have.
I don't talk to my sister and my partner does not talk to his two brothers.
Restlessat50 your "victim" sister sounds very like mine. She says things like "the only thing I've ever done to you is be born". My mother says she is "vulnerable" but in my view she's just selfish and thinks of no-one but herself. I am NC with sister and for good reason. The last time I saw her about 18 months ago, she made my brother's last day in the UK all about her by instigating a confrontation. The time before that she decided to "analyse" & criticise me in front of my then 18 year old daughter and in a restaurant. Needless to say she was the one that ended up in tears because I indicated that I was angry about her doing nothing to help our mother who was at the time selling her house and needed help in getting rid of stuff as well as clearing out a huge studio. She said she could not afford to help because she could not afford to travel to Cornwall - this from someone who spends one month in India every January! To cap it all, she then apologised to my daughter but to this day has never apologised to me. Even my mother (who will defend her in every way) did say that she should not have spoken to me in the way she did in front of my daughter.
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