Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

There is a Vietnamese proverb which states, “Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.” For many of us, this statement holds true. Siblings are our parents’ gift to us for when they someday leave our side; they are nature’s way of creating a human so similar yet so different from ourselves.

It is assumed that all siblings share a special and unique bond. Maybe your older sister is your best friend who you talk to about anything and everything, and who occasionally doesn’t mind letting you borrow her favorite sweater.

Perhaps your older brother is an annoyance, but he is always there to stick up for you when you need it.

If you have a very young sibling, you might feel an overwhelming amount of love and obligation to take care of them as if they were your own.

No matter what your situation, all siblings are different. But what if you and your sibling don’t get along, never see each other or you simply just coexist and nothing more? To some, this scenario sounds crazy, but for me, this is an everyday reality.

It all started one day when I was six years old and my parents sat me down on our living room couch to tell me they were having another baby. I was currently the only child and I was not very excited, to say the least.

As the pregnancy went on, I slowly began to accept the fact that I would have to share my parents’ attention.

When we found out that my new sibling was going to be a girl, all of my miserable feelings about welcoming this new life into the family vanished. I was excited to have a new sister to play dolls and dress up with.

Besides being angry that my sister was born on my first day of kindergarten and stole all of the attention I was supposed to get, I learned to love having a younger sibling.

Some of my favorite childhood memories include swinging in the playground in the yard with my sister, looking for seashells on the beach and playing school together.

According to, by age 11, 33 percent of a child’s free time is spent with their sibling. At the time, we definitely fell into that statistic, but today, I cannot hide the fact that things are not the way they used to be.

My sister and I are very distant, and honestly, I cannot really give a reasonable explanation as to why. I tend to think that maybe it is because of our age difference. I am a freshman in college, and she is in eighth grade.

We have totally different lives. I am away at school experiencing all new social circumstances, and she has yet to enter high school.

Besides “Bachelor” and “Dance Moms,” there is not much else to talk about. Car rides with just the two of us are awkward; some days we will pass each other in our hallway at home without saying anything.

I look at my friends and people I go to school with and see how close they are with their siblings and can’t help but wonder how. I tend to ask myself why our relationship is so abnormal.

The thing that confuses me the most is that nothing has ever happened to cause my sister and I to be so distant. I don’t hate my sister; I love her, but I always find myself trying to force a relationship that does not seem to be there.

It’s not like we completely ignore each other; occasionally, we will go to the mall or watch TV together. But there always seems to be something missing. The highly looked upon sisterly bond that is portrayed in movies and on TV is not a reality to me, and I am starting to wonder if it actually exists.

When I tell others about my strained relationship with my sister, everyone always gives me the same advice—that “it will get better as you get older.” But how much older?

I am about to be 20 years old, and I cannot hold a decent conversation with my own sister. I try not to blame myself, but I can’t help but wonder if there is something more I could’ve done to prevent my current situation.

I try to make an effort to spend time with her, but it just doesn’t feel natural. We don’t seem to click, and that may be something I need to learn to accept. I have read stories online where people discuss how they were never really close with their siblings and there isn’t much they can do about it. states that only about one third of adult siblings maintain close relationships, and going away to college has only made this situation worse for my sister and me. I know it is natural to lose touch with your siblings while you are in school, but I fear that we will never obtain that sisterly bond that I so dearly long for.

I know I am not alone in this situation, but I also know that I am a part of a small minority that only coexists with their sibling. I don’t want it to be this way.

I want to be able to call my sister and talk for hours about our days. I want to look forward to hanging out with her instead of being intimidated by the awkwardness that exists. Most importantly, I want to make my parents happy.

I know it kills them to see my sister and I act this way towards one another. I can only hope that I am not as lonely in this situation as I think I am and that everyone’s advice really is true, that someday I will be able to call my sister my best friend.

Alyssa Palumbo is a first-year student majoring in marketing. She can be reached at

One thought on “The strain of sibling relationships”
  1. Try hugging your sister, stopping her in the hallway to ask her how she’s doing and if she needs your company or help, literally be honest about how much you care about her, don’t tell her the negatives just let her know that you’re happy she’s around because soon you may be leaving for a job or otherwise so it’s really important that you can have this time to do all the things you love to do with the people you love.

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