Figures of people

Sharing – Why Siblings Can Have Different Childhoods And Impressions Of Their Parents

“Just because you grew up in the same home doesn’t mean you had the same experience or impression of your parents. Experts break down how and why this happens.”

The article below describes how this can happen, mostly focused on several factors. One, things change. The family’s circumstances change over the years, your parents change over the years, and so an older or younger sibling might have been raised differently than we were. Also, we are different. Some kids’ personalities mesh differently with their parents compared to their siblings. That’s all pretty normal.

I want to talk about childhood abuse, especially why it can seem like our siblings don’t understand when we tell them about our abuse. One of the things that becomes clear as you read the link is that kids might grow up in the same biological family but not necessarily in the same circumstances. Let me give you a personal example.

I’m the second of six kids in my family. The age range is just under 20 years apart. My older brother and youngest brother have never lived in the same house at the same time. (There is one example of being in a different family.) I’m also the child of an alcoholic, but my father stopped drinking and became super active in AA when I was 12-13 years old. Some of my younger siblings have no memory of him coming home drunk. I have plenty.

When I talk to my younger siblings about the sexual abuse that occurred and how the chaos and secrecy of a family with a sometimes violent alcoholic made me more vulnerable to abuse, that’s not the family they know. I imagine it could be difficult for them to picture what that looked like. Siblings who are closer in age might have more memories of that time yet were not sexually abused. Again, their memory and perceptions will still be different because they didn’t have the same experiences that I did.

That could be difficult to navigate as adults. It hasn’t been easy, and I suspect there will always be a slight distance between us because we all have different experiences within our family. We all deal with those experiences differently, giving each other space to do that. We aren’t as close as other siblings might be, but expecting that would, frankly, be unrealistic.

It would be much worse if my siblings didn’t believe me when I talked about the abuse. I know that has happened to many survivors. I’m thankful that I haven’t had to deal with that myself. I also understand it to some degree. None of my siblings have such a different experience that my story would ruin the idyllic memories of their childhoods. My father stopped drinking, but it’s not like he was suddenly a warm, loving guy. The family dysfunction didn’t just go away. But, many survivors have family members who have a powerful connection to their good childhood memories. Introducing a counterfactual can be crushing. Not everyone will take that well. Some refused to see what was happening during childhood, and others didn’t because of circumstances. That desperate need to hang on to the idyllic family identification can tear families apart.

That sucks. It’s also not your responsibility. The truth is the truth, and what happened to you as a child happened. How other family members, including siblings, react to those facts is their choice. Understand that their experience was different, but don’t accept responsibility for their inability to understand that same thing about your experience.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.