Family Friends and Family Feuds

Overcoming your Siblings and Becoming the Center of Attention

The type of peaceful, idyllic dinner your family has never known

Those of us with families to return to during the holidays know that those days of celebration can be the best of times or the worst of times. Whether it’s Grandma Carly’s plum pudding or Uncle Dylan’s political rants that steal the show, everyone ends up vying for the limelight on the rare occasions that everyone comes together. But the methods for holding everyone’s attention vary from person to person, and year to year. Depending if the topic du jour is politics and a recent election, or where the next summer vacation will be, the approach towards a conversation can range from the banter wholesome camaraderie to downright hostility.

But without fail, sibling rivalries almost always come under the spotlight, and always in predictable fashions. So, where are the flashpoints for your siblings, and how can you avoid or exploit them? These gatherings are your time to assert your dominance over your siblings, with everyone present to bear witness. This is your chance, and you’d be a damn fool if you didn’t make the most of it. Each child in a family’s birth order has some general traits that you can account for, and exploit for profit and pleasure. The least you can do is put in some time and effort beforehand into your plan of attack.

Firstborns:

They may be bigger than you; but the bigger they are, the harder they fall

The first child in a family is going to have the most experience dealing with their other siblings, which makes them both powerful allies or dangerous foes in sibling fights. There’s also a good chance that your oldest brother or sister will harbor some unconscious resentment towards their siblings for taking the parental spotlight for themselves, especially if there isn’t much of an age difference between the oldest and their other siblings. They’re used to being seen as more responsible and more adult than their kin. But this comes at a price: chances are they’ve made their share of mistakes (mistakes that you would do well to learn from) while trying to flesh out what your parent’s limits are, and suffered the consequences. Feel free to bring all of the skeletons in their closet, accumulated from past transgressions, into the light.

Now that you’ve dealt with your most formidable opponent, it’s time to move onto…

The Middle Child(ren):

Malcolm here may seem like an angel child now, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth

Unless you’ve got something specific to hold over their heads, getting the best of a middle child can be a tricky thing. They’ve been navigating the treacherous waters of family life for their entire lives, and they’ve probably learned all the ins and outs of your household, as well as learning a couple of tricks for themselves along the way. They’re typically the mediators and negotiators of their families, at least, until it’s no longer worth their efforts to keep the dialogue going. Your best bet here will be to try to lay down a barrage or personal attacks against them until you wear them down and they give up trying to retort. After this, declare victory and move on to the next event of the evening.

Having cracked the toughest nut in your family, your last obstacle to the spotlight is…

The Baby of the Family:

They’re always too cute. Too cute for their own good.

Deceptively capable in the art of sibling warfare, there’s a good chance that you won’t know the limits of the youngest child in your family. They’re usually able to coast on their charm and ability to lull others into a false sense of complacency, but don’t be fooled. You may have more experience in the verbal, psychological, and physical jousts that compose family life, but it’s all they’ve ever known. They’ve quietly watched and learned from everyone while lurking in the shadows, and they’re just waiting for an excuse to let loose on some poor, unsuspecting fool. Don’t let them catch you off guard, and expose them for the juvenile wannabe that they are.

If you make it this far, congratulations! You’re the king of your family’s hill, and everyone knows it. Bask in your well-deserved glory, and be ever vigilant to any plots against you, as your parents drag you back to the car, berating you about why you can’t behave like a civilized human being for a single day of your life. Don’t let that get you down, though, because it’s time to start plotting how you’ll defend your title in the coming year.