Sibling Rivalry? The Case of Nick Carter

When we are incensed and upset with a sibling’s behavior, it’s often difficult to reach out to them without lashing out, or being concerned the other won’t accept the gesture. So, often, keeping a distance can become the easier choice. On special occasions such as holidays and birthdays, the disconnect can be felt deeply, since those typically are times people naturally think of family and look to acknowledge and celebrate with each other.

Nick Carter wished his brother Aaron Carter a happy birthday recently despite the angry distance between them in the wake of their Twitter feud. It seems Nick wanted to at least let his brother know he loved him no matter what and was thinking about him on his birthday. While Aaron may have been initially disappointed that it wasn’t a big enough effort on Nick’s part, nonetheless, it was an overture, which is more than none at all.

Sometimes the hope of extending an olive branch, with the possibility that it might allow you to put the bad feelings behind you and reconnect, is not so easily achieved. Hearing from someone who one might perceive has let them down in one way or another can often serve to fuel the anger that may have been simmering under the surface while the two of you weren’t speaking. In other words, it might be acknowledged as too little too late, and might make someone ask, where were you when I really needed you?

A lot of times sisters and brothers have expectations of how they want their sibling to be there for them in general, as well as in times of need, and special occasions such as a wedding or a graduation. When a sibling doesn’t come through the way the other wanted them to, there can often be resentment, along with misunderstanding and disagreement over what happened. As a result, it can lead to both people stepping back because it might feel too hot to handle. What can develop is what I refer to in my book Adult Sibling Rivalry: Understanding The Legacy of Childhood as a Cold War, when siblings are disconnected in animosity, that can last months and even years. It can become more pronounced at holiday time or birthdays, which can generate the desire to be in touch again. So what can you do if you find yourself here?

Like Nick, you can reach out to your sibling and make a statement of love and wishes for a happy celebration, whether it be a birthday, a holiday, an anniversary, a child’s birthday, or some other important event. If you decide to do that, it is important to keep in mind that when a person feels wronged or maligned, as your sibling might, the gesture on your part can conjure up all the bad feelings and bring them to the surface because even though you are offering something now it might remind them of what, in their mind, you failed to deliver in the past.

While you may wish that they will respond positively and agree to look ahead instead of behind, there is the chance their anger is still too intense to be able to do that. Their expectations of you might be too huge to fulfill, and consequently whatever you do from your end might not be enough for them and may simply reinforce their negative feelings. With that in mind, if you make the decision that no matter how your sibling responds this is what you want to do as their brother or sister, then go ahead and extend yourself because then you are doing it for your own well-being, rather than the reaction you are looking for. Follow your own path of what it means to you to be a good brother or sister, rather than attempt to satisfy their view of it. Let them know this is where you are, whether they can join you there or not.

Sometimes it is possible to break that silence with a loving statement and move forward. Hopefully that will be the outcome for you. Aaron was finally able to tweet back a positive message to Nick. Perhaps now they can put their own Cold War behind them.

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