It was a brunch party at Darshini Lamba’s father’s place when she decided to never speak with her elder sister, Rathri Ahuja, again. The reason was the snide comments that Rathri used to pass at her.
After one particularly insult-laden meal, Darshini’s father asked Rathri to apologise or leave. She left. It took 7 years and a fatal ischemic heart disease diagnosis for the sisters to speak again.
There is no bond which is as multi-layered, yet empowering, as the one between siblings. But small feuds are something that can turn even the sweetest of bonds sour. When it comes to siblings it gets amplified to another level, just like Darshini and Rathri’s long-drawn strife.
“I was more hurt than angry by her constant criticism, about me getting an opportunity to choose my life partner unlike her. I even remember deciding not to marry the love of my life, so that I don’t upset my sister,” said Darshini.
“However, I did marry my love and ended up slowly breaking all my contacts with Jiji (elder sister). But all that antipathy vanished when I got to know about her heart condition. After not talking with her for some 7 years, a life-threatening disease united us but is also took her away from me,” she narrated, with tears in her eyes.
The differences one face might not be as big and might have such an end, but feuds with beloved siblings must be solve when there is time. It can be done by “figuring out cues that caused it and trying to see things from their point of view, for a balanced perspective,” said, Dr Jyoti Kapoor, a psychiatrist from Paras Hospital.
“After this outlook, choose if the issue is worth fighting for or should it be sidelined. Don’t forget to extend the olive branch, as the main onus is to resolve the matter. Finally, begin a path towards healthy healing by keeping communication open and free from preconceived notions,” she added.
There can be several factors based on which two siblings can end up in a fight. Different gender, age, interest, and temperament are often at the heart of most fights. Parents’ attitude towards their children is another important component that causes friction between siblings.
Before you get into a fight, always think why your sister or brother might be in a bad mood. Maybe you did something wrong, or their frustration may have stemmed from unrelated things.
“Having a heart-to-heart conversation to understand why they are upset is the key. Try to be calm and nice rather than raising your voice. Also, brainstorm a few solutions to reduce the number of repeated fights,” said a psychiatrist, Dr Anuneet Sabharwal.
As sibling relationships combine intimacy and conflicting goals, fights are inevitable. If a fight between siblings is left unresolved, it can also cause anxiety and depression.
“It has been found in recent studies that in extreme cases, these fights can lead to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Although peer aggression like bullying is generally considered more serious than sibling aggression, the latter is likely to have profound effects on mental health if unchecked,” added Dr Anuneet.
To overcome the mental stress, “squeeze your fist and tighten your muscles. Hold till the count of 5, take deep breaths and as you release the fist imagine yourself letting go of the negative emotions,” suggested Dr Prakriti Poddar, mental health expert, Poddar Foundation.
Given that there can be lasting negative effects of the sibling rivalry, which can stay till adulthood, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional.
“There are many qualified professionals who are trained in family counselling who can deal with issues like these, and can help with the stress, frustration or unresolved issues,” added Dr Prakriti.
So with Raksha Bandhan around the corner, take a step forward even if you may not like your sibling’s beliefs or actions, resolve it all and start afresh.