BROTHERS & SISTERS/SISTERS & BROTHERS by Helene S. Arnstein

BROTHERS & SISTERS/SISTERS & BROTHERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Despite the paired-off title, despite the initial patter about revitalizing ""an ailing relationship"" between adult siblings, this thin, facile review of family affairs has the most to say to parents. True enough, ""unhappy feelings that sprout in the nursery can haunt us and plague us for the rest of our lives""; but the author provides few insights for persons seeking to explore previous patterns of sibling interaction. Instead, she blandly assures us that there is ""nothing wrong"" with feeling envious of a sib who outperforms us, and recommends ""searching communication"" as a remedy for ingrained misunderstanding. Brief anecdotes abound, but these are more illustrative than instructive (a lawyer keeps sibling peace by avoiding political discussions, an author clings to themes of vengeance years after an older brother ceases to abuse him). The author has nothing novel to impart, either, on such interesting topics as birth order (first borns dislike later borns, middles often feel left out); step-siblings (jealousies are to be expected); and brothers/sisters-in-law (one's spouse may view the sib as a rival). Readers will, however, find commonsense advice for parents seeking to promote compatible childhood relationships: playing favorites establishes resentments; labeling ""the beauty"" and/or ""the brain"" of the family can pit one child against the other; basing parental approval on children's successful performances may promote rivalry. Inconsequential except as a parental alert--and in that regard, outclassed by Calladine, below.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1979
Publisher: Dutton