How to Redefine Sibling Rivalry

How to redefine Sibling Rivalry
Alistair Brownlee (left) helps his brother, Jonathan, across the finish line

Sibling rivalry is the fighting, jealousy and unhealthy competition between brothers and sisters. It is an issue that almost all parents who have two or more children have to deal with. If not fully address, it can develop and spill over into adulthood.

The most famous sibling rivalries, from a Biblical perspective are, Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers. Then there are the Brownlee Brothers – Alistair and Jonathan, who redefined sibling rivalry.

Jonathan Brownlee was on the verge of winning the Triathlon World Series in Mexico. Yet with 700 metres to go, he began losing sense of direction and had to helped by Alistair, his brother. Arm in the arm, the two of them ran towards the finish line before Alistair pushed Jonathan across the finish line.

You can watch the video on this link.

Forms of sibling rivalry

  • name-calling
  • bickering
  • challenging a belief
  • arguing
  • blaming
  • hiding something that is important to the other one, etc

Disadvantages of sibling rivalry

  • get physically or emotionally hurt
  • have their self-esteem damaged especially if the conflicts are chronic
  • becoming bullies
  • having poor relationships as adults
  • lacking empathy
  • not caring about others

How to redefine sibling rivalry

Unlike the age-old definition pitting brothers against sisters or other siblings, modern sibling rivalry may occur between peers, co-workers, races, tribes, friends and strangers on social media. The recent general elections, or lack of it – depending on how you look at it, led to a mass fall-out on Facebook, Twitter and other online social forums.

The recent backlash on social media in response and reaction to Nyakundi’s in defense of the boy-child calls for a redefinition of sibling rivalry. Nyakundi mentioned a number of women who are undermining the growth of the boy-child. Hundreds of his adoring fan base gave Nyakundi’s quest to become the boy-child president a nod of approval.

It also led to an angry reaction from those who felt he was undermining women. It isn’t a secret that Kenyan women have not received the respect, love and compassion they deserve. Sadly enough, women themselves contribute towards the ills perpetrated against them. By keeping silent when atrocities are committed, women end up undermining their quest for changing the status quo.

There are communities where women are on the forefront of demanding that the same cultural practices that harm them are fully followed by their own children as well as peers. Take genital mutilation, for instance. I have heard instances where mothers have forced their own children into practicing female genitalia mutilation.

The second example is where mothers have ‘forced’ their pregnant daughters to get married to the men who have impregnated them. Such mothers usually compel their daughters to stay in abusive marriages where they are not respected, loved and treated well. Whenever problems between the two arise, mothers are often quick to defend the men since they believe their daughters must be the ones at fault.

Reaction vs responding

Nyakundi and the women he has adversely mentioned in his posts have large masses of followers. Most of these followers defend their ‘mouth-pieces’ to the last ardent follower. However, I believe this sibling rivalry can be used to transform our nation. Since Nyakundi and his feuding peers are learned, have resources and the knowledge required to effect long lasting change, how to redefine sibling rivalry needs to be on top of our agenda as Kenyans.

Instead of reacting out of anger, distrust and hatred, followers of influence public figures need to respond in love, trust and forgiveness. This will enable us to turn our individual mistakes into assets that will help redress and reduce the effects of negative customs and social ills that derail the full development and rights of children all across Kenya.

This calls for every individual – women and men – to draw valuable lessons from their engagement and experience with the opposite sex. Women who have been abused by irresponsible men ought to find an alternative to venting their anger on either their children or the children’s father.

Denying children the opportunity to associate with their irresponsible dad could be seen as a befitting punishment to the man. However, what harm does it end up doing to the children? Does it empower them to make better choices in life that will protect them from their parents’ mistakes and failures?

”The best way to get along with people is not to expect them to be like you.”

– Joyce Meyer


The ongoing bickering, name calling and fighting between Nyakundi, his female nemesis and their supporters is deflecting focus on addressing the pertinent issues that faces the society. I strongly believe that equal empowerment of women and men depend largely on finding a healthy balance.

This can happen when women and men find a common ground where debate and action aimed towards making Kenya a safe haven is upheld. Doing this will transform Kenya into a nation where both men and women can thrive to their full potential without hindrance.

What do you think?


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