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Good Housekeeping
Lynn Lopez, Contributor
August 10, 2010

When Siblings Fight: What to Do When You're in the Middle

How do you deal with it when the people you love are at odds with each other? FN offers 5 tips. By Lynn Lopez
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siblings_fight_000008373355.jpgSome people think that bickering between siblings is something that only takes place when those involved are just kids, but if you've ever had a blowup with your sister or brother over some minor issue, a snide remark, or some deep-seated hurt that hasn't been addressed for years, then you know that this isn't true.

Disagreements between adult siblings are especially perilous, because you all have your own strong opinions and personalities formed already, and none of you will be willing to back down, choosing instead to dig your heels in and fight to the death to make your point.

Such fights are never pleasant, and while some can be easily resolved, major ones could quickly tear down your relationship. And it doesn't just affect the ones who are fighting; everyone gets pulled into the fight eventually. If you have siblings who simply can't get along anymore, despite everyone's best efforts, how are you supposed to handle it, especially when you’re called upon to mediate?

Click on the tips below to learn more about them or simply read on for tips on being the middleman—or middlewoman—between two squabbling loved ones.


First of all, don't take sides--even if both of them will expect you to. Choosing one side will make the other feel as though you’re ganging up on him or her and create resentment.


Let them know that you’re not taking sides in no uncertain terms. The fight is between them and doesn’t involve you, after all. Even if, privately, you agree with one over the other, do not show any partiality. You could be used against one or the other if it seems you are on a particular side.


Hear what both of them have to say. This gives you a clearer idea how it all started and how you can best figure out some way to improve matters. Many disagreements stem from a misunderstanding or lack of transparency between people. Getting to the bottom of things and gaining a full perspective often helps clear the matter up.


Don't stoke the fires. You’re supposed to be the calm, rational one, not the one conveying the latest flurry of angry words from one sibling to the other. It can be tempting to let them know what the other is thinking and feeling, but more often than not, it just builds up more anger—and you’ll be responsible for it.


Don't force a resolution to the issue. As much as you would love it if everybody would just get along, trying to get the squabbling parties to make peace for which they're not ready could eventually aggravate the situation. Ultimately, it’s up to them to decide when they’re ready to end the fight.

Trying to get along with two arguing siblings can feel like a juggling act, and not a fun one at that. Remember that it might take some time for them to make peace in the future, and for now, the best you can do is to maintain your relationship with them. Let them know you love them equally, and remind them that they love each other as well—as long as they remember that’s true, things will work out in the end.

(Photo ©iStockPhoto/Kronick)
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  • mary_ann Aug 10 2010 @ 10:45pm Report Abuse
    Thanks for this article! I have a younger sister and we often fight!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • mary_ann Aug 10 2010 @ 10:52pm Report Abuse
    It's so unfair na lagi na lang magpasensya ka kasi ikaw matanda even though it's not your fault!
    Last modified A long time ago
  • ces Sep 01 2010 @ 11:52am Report Abuse
    i have 3 kids a 4 yr old 2 yr old and a 2 month old baby...the ates

    often fight and sometimes end up hurting each other.. this article is a big help..
    Last modified A long time ago
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