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Is There Pressure To Be Close With Your Siblings?

With the modern-day, typical American family being altered every day, families are no longer what they used to be. Has this affected sibling relationships?

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The very obvious “standard” family dynamic is as far-fetched as a Taylor Swift- Katy Perry duet. As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned one important thing; families are all f*cked. The current revolution of entertainment has recently revolved around the unrealistic expectations of love, of men and women, and the scorching reality that those high school sweethearts didn’t stay together. We’ve come to the conclusion that our love lives actually pan out a lot differently than Bridget Jones’s does, but why haven’t we come to that conclusion with our families? With the pressure surrounding the ideal family, you often see rosy-cheeked siblings playfully poking fun at each other, but in the end declaring that only they have the right to do so. You have sisters staying up until dawn, talking about boys and make-up, braiding each other’s hair and exploring each other’s differences in a constructive way. Both parents are often present in these scenarios, and if not, a hard-working single mother, dedicated to loving her dear children. While some people will attest to a life nearly identical to that, the rest of the world has a different perspective. The truth is, I was always extremely grateful I grew up in the home of two-parents, who genuinely still love each other to this day, grumpiness and all. But the sibling expectation was always a little skewed. With two brothers and a younger sister, I assumed we would be a tight-knit bunch. The truth was, we all ended up growing out of each other in different ways. Some physically moving to other places, others emotionally and financially lapping one another. The cold, cynical question started to plague me: should we continue to feel guilty for not being close with our siblings? Surly the blood connection, and being the only offspring of our parents will always bring us together, but a critical point in some families is that not every sibling has remotely similar personality traits. Not only have I seen this in some parts of my family and extended family, but with some friends and co-workers of mine. When talking about not getting along with your siblings as an adult, a similar mood matches the conversation; guilt. We feel an immense amount of responsibility to create this loving, caring relationship that might not even exist. A part of me wonders if this sibling phenomenon has always been the case, or as some baby boomers would say, “Are Millennials Killing Sibling Love?” But I also know that some people don’t speak to their siblings for several years, my dad and uncle being one of them. Like most things in this age, I’m going to blame the internet. If there is one blessing and curse that social media/ the internet has brought to our consciousness, it’s that there are more people out there who think like you, dress like you and stress like you, (poetic!) While this part has left a lot of people who were once lonely feel like they have a connection, it also introduces the curiosity of always thinking there’s better people out there. Not only does this seem to kill serious relationships (another story), it also seems like it could be a contributing factor with friendships, and of course, families. My brother, who came out as gay when I was 13, he was 18, has found more in common with people online than in person. As his family, we offered support and still do, but finding people who understand first hand was, I’m sure, much more remarkable for him. As a young teenager, I started exploring my tendency toward being more comfortable with sex than my friends, which later spilled into college. While I was lucky enough to meet people who could talk about blowjobs as freely as I do later on in life, I know some people don’t find that anywhere but the internet. With siblings, I’ve come to see that forcing it is a lot more pressure than you need to put yourself under. I do my best to include them in my everyday life and celebrate the moments when we’re all together once again. But the truth is, our differences have only been highlighted more, and hasn’t been helped with geographical distance. As life goes, there isn’t anything that stays the same, except for who you’re related to. The fact is, there might be parts of your life that drive you away, but maybe there will be parts that bring you together. Discussing any difficulties with family openly and speaking objectively is more difficult for some. People often feel that if their pain isn’t substantial or deteriorating their well-being, why discuss it? With families, it should be discussed. Start a conversation about why your differences might be beneficial to each other and know that expressing your love to your siblings doesn’t mean sappy, gushy heart-to-hearts that end with you saying, “why don’t we ever speak like this?” It can come more naturally if the pressure is off. Know that you love them, but also know that they might not ever be your best friend and that’s ok. (Or maybe you hate them and wish to never see their stinking guts ever again… but I digress).

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