Interview with Jonathan: Sibling Rivalry or Bullying

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Cherie: “Do you have any siblings close to the same age?” “Gender?”

Jonathan: “I have two siblings but only one close in age a brother, and I was older by a few years.”

Cherie: “How close were you growing up?”

Jonathan: “Very close to both of them.”

Cherie: “Were you competitive with your brother?”

Jonathan: “Oh, yes, big time. We competed mainly in things like sports but other things as well.”

Cherie: “Was your situation healthy sibling rivalry or sibling bullying?”

Jonathan: “I mean we had our share of differences of opinion, trying to establish our turf, but there was never any just flat out meanness in terms of picking at someone just for the sake of picking at them.”

Cherie: “How did the rivalry set in?”

Jonathan: “I think it’s just typical among siblings. It doesn’t matter if it is brothers or sisters or brothers and sisters both. It can be anything like who is making better grades, who is a better dancer, whatever. I think most of us support our siblings but probably at the same time when we are kids hope or like to think we are just a little bit better at something if we both have the same interest in something.”

Cherie: “Absolutely. I supported my brother as well. But there were times when I was jealous of him when he did better than me in anything. Because as the oldest sibling, we’re under the mistaken idea that we should be better than them at everything simply because we’re the oldest.

“And the reality of it is that even siblings are different people with different talents and even your younger siblings can be better than you at some things.”

“How were you and your sibling different?”

Jonathan: “That’s a good question. I was a little more vocal while he was a lot quieter. I would say I tended to be a bit more social though he was undoubtedly social too just a little quieter. I tended to be a bit more emotional like when it came to my favorite sports teams winning etc. though he was very passionate as well.”

“We both were good students and smart. I was a little more interested in pop culture and other things but he was more into physical stuff like hunting and fishing and physically; he has always been a lot more athletic than me though I like sports. I would have to practice and practice to be decent while most of it came naturally for him and physically; he was always stronger.”

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Cherie: “Gotcha. So, since you were more verbal, and he was more physical, did that ever contribute to the rivalry?”

Jonathan: “No question. I was a little older so I saw myself as in charge at times. Any time we had rivalry stuff I tended to try to win verbally while he attempted to win physically. So sometimes the two would collide and hence you have a rivalry.”

Cherie: “Right. And since both of you were boys, there’s that childhood and teenage male pride at work here. Was there ever a time when the rivalry borderlined or crossed into bullying?”

Jonathan: “Well since we had two different strategies, obviously I would try to use what I perceived as an advantage while he would use his. He never would come in and whip me just for the sake of whipping me but when we competed in sports, he was usually the winner and if we had a difference of opinion and would get into a wrestling match, he always won despite being younger.

“But we didn’t get into arguments or fights just for the sake of arguing. Usually, I would have a rationale or he would and if it ever became anything more often, both of us were the guilty party and we never carried grudges going forward.”

“It was kind of funny, but once we had a winner in whatever it was over with so I don’t think it crossed into bullying. I will say that whoever often loses at times will call it bullying but there is a difference between bullying and a sibling rivalry. Bullying is horrible and traumatizing for so many people. We didn’t have that.”

Cherie: “Absolutely. Do you think siblings can bully one another?”

Jonathan: “Without question, they can. I think when it causes someone to feel bad about themselves or a sibling gets attacked just for the sake of being attacked or things are said that the other sibling knows will hurt them consistently, then it indeed can become that, and it often does.”

Cherie: I agree with you. I’m sorry to say, but there were times I bullied my younger brother as well. We were close growing up but I’d get mad at him at times and hit him. But that stopped when my brother hit his teens. After that, we’d just bicker back and forth. Naturally, I’m sorry about how I treated him at times and I’ve made that known to him.”

“But I tell ya. If anyone else ever messed with him, I was also his fiercest protector. If some kid off the street hurt him, I wouldn’t have stood for it.”

“Today, we are very close and I’d never do anything to hurt him. I’m very proud of him. I love my brother very much and I would defend him to my last breath if need be.”

Cherie: “Now. You stated when it came to athletics, he was a better athlete and was stronger though being younger? Was that hard on you?”

Jonathan: “Well yes in the regard that I am competitive by nature so to lose all the time definitely can hurt the ego. But I never resented my brother for it or had any jealousy. The only time it would sting is if we did get into something like a wrestling match and come up on the losing end. You would always try to convince yourself that it would be different the next time.”

Cherie: “Did your parents ever try to discourage any kind of rivalry?”

Jonathan: “Our parents are divorced but yes, absolutely especially if things were about to get out of control. She would tell me things like, ‘You are older; you should be more mature.’ And she would say to him, ‘Respect your brother.’ However, she also would use some psychology that she would tell me, ‘Your brother is stronger than you. I would probably tone it down.'”

“She didn’t cut me slack on that when she saw me end up on the losing end. But she would also tell my brother, ‘Your brother is older and has achieved some wisdom you will reach later. Use his knowledge and listen to him.’”

Cherie: “It sounds to me like it wasn’t bullying but only healthy rivalry between brothers. Thank you so much for doing this interview.”

Jonathan: You’re welcome. This is something I like to talk about. I look back now and it was kind of fun.”

Cherie: “Oh, yes. My brother and I- there were a few times we didn’t get along so well. But for the most part, we had a great childhood together. Again, thank you and I wish you and your brother all the best!”

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