How to tolerate an annoying brother

How to tolerate an annoying brother

By Laura Tagliareni, PhD


My child says he hates his brother for getting special treatment. What can I do?

I’m a child psychologist, and I get this question a lot. And not only from parents of children with attention problems, chronic health issues, and other special needs. Parents of typically developing children have the same question.

In every family with more than one child, each member develops special relationships with one another. This may be influenced by birth order, gender, and interests.

It’s common for siblings to experience some form of rivalry as they grow up. This can include arguing, name-calling, and teasing. It’s developmentally appropriate whether a sibling has learning and attention problems or not.

However, when dealing with a challenging issue such as hyperactivity and impulsivity, it’s important to remember that a family is a dynamic unit. Any stressful situation will impact every family member to some extent.

Be prepared for a variety of emotions.

A typically developing child may face a range of emotions related to having a sibling with learning and thinking differences.

Your son may resent the time you’re out of the home at appointments with his brother. He may feel angry about not receiving as much of your attention. He may be embarrassed by public incidents. He may be concerned about a sibling’s well-being. Or he may feel pressured to be an overachiever (due in part to a sibling’s weaker academic performance).

How much rivalry is too much?

Sibling rivalry is normal. When determining what actions to take with your typically developing child, remember his age. Consider the frequency and intensity of negative comments or struggles. If, in a momentary burst of anger, your son yells “I hate you” because his brother won’t share a toy, all that may be needed is a time-out and an apology.

But what if your son is struggling often? What if he’s showing a lot of emotional changes? Then you may want to consider getting some extra help. You could find a therapist or contact the school counselor. You could also ask your child’s teacher or doctor to help you locate a sibling support group. Having peers with similar family situations may help your child explore feelings and work on coping strategies.

Be a good communicator.

If one of your children has special needs, it’s a good idea to share age-appropriate information with your other child. Remember to talk up your child’s strengths to help his brother continue to think positively about him.

Be open and honest. Children feel more comfortable when they understand something. Knowing they can bring questions to you helps them feel empowered.

Be consistent.

To reduce friction between siblings, try to be consistent. Set similar expectations for all of your children in terms of rules, responsibilities, and discipline. Recognize each child’s strengths. And try not to burden your typically developing child with unreasonable expectations.

Another way to reduce friction is to carve out a regular time each week to spend alone with your typically developing child. Some one-on-one attention may reduce any jealousy about the time you spend working with his brother on learning and thinking differences.

Look for teachable moments.

Keep an eye out for flare-ups and other incidents. Think of them as opportunities to work on communication. Emphasize how challenging life can be for all of you — that’s why you need to support each other!

With good communication and your unconditional love and support, your children may learn to be patient with each other and tolerant of differences. These values may deepen sibling relationships, which are everlasting.

It’s fun to have a younger brother. You’ll never be alone anymore. But he can really get on your nerves sometimes. Now you’re looking for ways on how to get your brother to stop annoying you.

Here are some of the best things to do:

1. Promise To Play Later

Is your brother asking you to play but you’re too busy right now? Promise him that you will give him your time later. It’s a trick from How Do You Make Your Sister Shut Up in A Polite Way that will work.

Say something like, “Just give me an hour to finish my homework” or “We’ll play at 4, be a bit patient okay?”.

2. Play For A Little While

How to tolerate an annoying brother

In case your brother is really persistent and being too annoying, play for a little while. Either 5 or 10 minutes is fine.

Focus on playing with so he feels happy. Once that’s done, it won’t be a problem to leave him to play on his own.

3. Hide In Your Room

You know you can always hide in your room. It’s an indirect way on How to Tell Your Brother to Stop Annoying You. For more privacy, lock the door.

There’s no way that he can annoy you that way. You can even make sure that he doesn’t know which room you are in.

4. Make A Challenge

Does your brother like challenges? Good, here’s one for him. Challenge him to leave you alone for some time.

You can even turn it into a bet. If he can stay quiet for more than hour then you’ll treat him with an ice cream.

5. Give Him Your Stuff

Wonder no more about how to get your brother to stop annoying you. Simply give him one or two of your stuff.

Siblings love to get their hands on their other sibling’s items. Maybe there’s a toy that he always liked. Make him promise not to break anything and to stop bothering you for now.

6. Pay Him More Attention

Brothers get really annoying and chatty when they want attention. It’s true. Just spend more time with him and he’ll stop bothering you.

Why? Because he loves you and annoying you is his way of getting your attention. These are some Things to Say to Your Older Brother on His Birthday that you can try.

7. Stay Nice

It’s really important to stay nice. Don’t show him that you’re bothered by his behavior.

Your brother will feel bad for being so annoying. He’ll move on to other activities that interest him.

8. Ignore Him

Ignoring your brother will also work. He’ll start to annoy you but won’t get any reaction at all. Bummer. Your brother will lose interest and go annoy someone else.

9. Do Something Fun Together

This can be simple. Play video games together, ride bikes or play basketball. Dedicate a day where the two of you do something fun together.

His heart will be so full. He won’t bother to annoy you anymore.

10. Get Your Mom Involved

So you’ve tried everything on how to get your brother to stop annoying you but none works. Get your mom involved. This is also How to Get Your Older Brother to Do What You Want.

Make Your Brother Listen To You

Getting your brother to listen is an important step on how to get your brother to stop annoying you. Here are the best tips:

1. Build A Strong Relationship

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Create a strong relationship with your brother. He’ll be hesitant to annoy you unless it’s really necessary.

Get him involved in your life, for instance here are Fun Ways to Tell Your Brother that You are Pregnant.

2. Always Have His Back

Once he sees that you always have his back, he’ll start to see you in a different light. Your brother starts to listen. Annoying you will be crossed from his list of things to do for the day.

3. Avoid Fighting Back

Even if your brother makes your blood boils, take a deep breath and stay calm. Avoid fighting back. Arguing will not make him want to listen to you at all.

4. Reason With Him

Practice an open communication with your brother. Reason with him when he’s doing something annoying.

Make sure that you’re not condescending. Be patient and teach him to be a good listener.

5. Stop Taking Things Personally

You need to stop taking things personally. There’s a reason why your brother is annoying you.

Listen to what that reason is. Once you do that, he’ll also want to listen to what you have to say.

Patiently deal with your brother annoying habits. You might one day look back and laugh at the funny memories the two of you have.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Anyone who has siblings will tell you that there are fights, and younger siblings are often a nuisance for older ones. However, there is no denying the fact that some of the most fun times and memories often include your brothers and sisters. If you have siblings who are annoying, you should try to deal with them in a mature manner rather than cutting them off or staying away yourself. Keep reading to learn how you can establish a better relationship with your frustrating sibling.

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Ignore your sibling’s annoying actions

Whether you have an annoying brother or sister, sometimes it is important that you don’t pay attention. Don’t get in the way, let him/her do whatever he/she pleases. If he/she resorts to annoying you deliberately, try and ignore it and continue with your tasks. This will show him/her that annoying you is a waste of time and effort and yields no result. Ideally, if you carry on this practice for a few weeks, you will start noticing a change in your sibling’s behavior.

Teach by example

If it is your sibling’s behavior that annoys you, you might want to consider teaching by example. In order to correct the annoying behavior, you will need to deal with it maturely. If for instance, your sibling likes to throw tantrums, be calm and composed while you tell your sibling that sometimes catering to whims and wishes is not possible for people. Likewise, don’t respond to anger with anger – show how composure results in a better atmosphere at home. If you continue this way, your sibling will mellow down in time.

Give positive attention

Sometimes, siblings act in a certain way to seek attention. He/she might feel ignored or unappreciated for his/her efforts, leading to unhealthy behavior. In order to solve such an issue, you will need to pay positive attention. If your sibling has a hobby, start appreciating him/her for it. For instance, if your sibling likes computers and tech, you can initiate discussions on the topic and then praise your sibling for his/her knowledge and enthusiasm. This will promote the healthy and constructive hobbies and your sibling will not feel the need to resort to attention seeking actions.

Arrange fun activities together

In order to strengthen your relationship and promote a sense of constructive fun in your sibling, you should plan fun activities that take his/her focus away from the annoying habits or actions. For instance, you can plan a trip to a theme park or take your sibling out every now and then for a drive or a show. This will help you form a stronger relation and in effect will teach your sibling to focus on having fun rather than ruining things.

Answered by Vasco Lopes, PsyD

Q How can I stop my daughter’s violence towards me and her younger brother? In school she behaves well; the violence has always been directed only towards me and her sibling. There’s no obvious trigger, although I suspect attention on her brother is a factor.

Sibling violence and aggression is something we hear about very often. It’s quite common and it’s a huge source of tension and difficulty at home. Tantrum behavior towards parents we can manage by either ignoring or providing consistent consequences, but you can’t ignore aggression toward siblings, because it can get dangerous and someone can get hurt.

I’m not surprised to hear that your daughter only exhibits aggression toward you and your son. It’s quite common that a child’s disruptive or aggressive behavior is situation specific — that is, she is only disruptive and acting out in one setting (at home rather than at school) or with one caregiver, and not others.

In order to prevent these aggressive episodes from occurring, we must first understand what is causing them. Although I don’t know about the specific context of your daughter’s aggression toward her brother, there are several common scenarios — all of which have to do with the reinforcement or immediate positive outcome that the aggression provides. First, a lot of children hit their siblings in order to stop annoying behavior. The fact that hitting your brother can immediately stop his pestering reinforces the aggressive behavior, so the next time your brother is annoying you, you are likely to use this behavior again to get him to stop. Children also use aggression toward siblings to get revenge over some slight. The “getting even” feeling that revenge provides can be a powerful motivator for aggression. Lastly, think of the parental attention that the child receives when getting reprimanded for aggression. Even negative attention from parents can be very reinforcing for children, especially if the child is already competing with her sibling for parental attention.

The best way to rein in your daughter’s behavior, if she’s younger than 7 or 8 years old, is with time outs. Time outs work well for fighting because you can put both children into a time out—you don’t even have to establish who was to blame — and the separation ends the squabble immediately. Also, because the children are ignored throughout the duration of the time out, they are receiving a minimal level reinforcing attention from the parent.

If a child is too old for time outs, you want to move to a system of positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior — points or tokens towards something she wants. If she goes for a whole day keeping her body safe, she gets tokens. You can also implement what we call a “response cost” — you give tokens for appropriate behavior, but take away tokens for specific behaviors that are unacceptable. Think of it as paying a fine for breaking the law. Another tool you can use to discourage this behavior is what we call a “positive punishment” — assigning her a chore she considers aversive, like cleaning her room or raking leaves.

In addition to consequences for when sibling aggression does occur, you want to be proactive and plan ahead to prevent these triggers from occurring. So, if you find that there is a specific setting in which your children are most likely to start fighting, eliminating or minimizing that situation to the extent possible is often helpful in improving the situation.

A consistent plan to incentivize and motivate your daughter to behave appropriately could be quite effective in reducing violent behavior towards you and her brother. It also teaches her what behaviors you do want to see when handling potential conflict. If it’s not effective, you might want to seek a diagnostic evaluation to better understand what is causing her aggression and consider parent training in order to learn specific techniques for responding to your daughter’s behavior.

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Your Sibling Constantly Passes Judgment on Your Career or Your Kids

Just get over it? No. You don’t have to stand for it. By putting you down, he’s probably trying to make himself feel better.

What to do: “Be assertive, but not defensive,” says Peter Goldenthal, a family psychologist based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and the author of Why Can’t We Get Along? Healing Adult Sibling Relationships ($12, Contain the urge to match his tone and rudeness. “You may not be able to change his behavior, but you can change the way you respond,” says Marcia Millman, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tell him what you think, then “try disarming him by telling a joke or mentioning something about him that you genuinely admire,” she says. You can choose to act like an adult, even if he can’t.

Sample script: “Actually, I’m really happy with Jimmy’s choice of major. He should be able to find just as many job opportunities with an economics degree as you did with your business degree.”

Planning the Family Party or Buying the Group Gift Always Falls to You

Just get over it? Yes. You were the type-A kid, right? And siblings always looked on. They’re probably not lazy now. They’re just repeating those childhood roles.

What to do: Don’t do everything yourself. Give your siblings a chance to pitch in, and make them feel appreciated. “Your sibling probably needs to feel important,” says Goldenthal. “Some people need a lot of acknowledgment or flattery.”

Sample script: “I’m really going to need your help for this party. You have such a beautiful eye for design. Do you want to handle the invitations or the decorations?”

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Your Sibling Always Thinks That He or She Is Right

Just get over it? Yes and no.

What to do: Try to laugh off her overbearing behavior with a quick quip. If she persists, wait until you’re not angry to tell her how you feel. Millman suggests explaining that you would like to have the mutual trust with her that you have with your friends, but you don’t feel she treats you as an equal, as they do. If she continues to be bossy, then make peace with yourself and feel good that you spoke your mind.

Sample script: “My best friends and I accept our differences and don’t try to change one another. I wish we could have that kind of relationship.”

Your Strapped-for-Cash Sibling Never Fails to Hit You Up for a Loan

Just get over it? No. Say something. He may have a problem with money management that needs to be fixed.

What to do: If this happens a lot, your sibling may actually benefit more if you say no to the loan. Try to find other ways to help: Recommend that he see a credit counselor, or help him create a budget. If you do decide to lend money, draft and cosign a document stating how much was lent, the date, and when the money will be returned.

Sample script: “I’m going to lend you this money, but I expect you to pay me back according to our agreement. And let’s make an appointment right now for you to see a credit counselor. I’ll come.”

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Your Sibling Doesn’t Like Your Spouse

Just get over it? Maybe. You may never be able to make her love him, and, frankly, she doesn’t have to. She’s not married to him.

What to do: Ask yourself if your husband comes across as standoffish or rude. If the answer is yes, talk to him about it in a nonthreatening way. But if your sister is being petulant, ask her to accept him for the family’s sake. When you’re all together, try to be the diplomat. If all else fails, make plans alone with her.

Sample script: “This is the man I married, and I love him. I love you, too, so can you try to see it from my perspective?”

Family Gatherings Are Your Sibling’s One-(Wo)man Show, and You’re Not a Fan

Just get over it? Maybe. Her appetite for attention (and your family’s willingness to lavish it) might bother you because you want to be in the spotlight, too. As an adult, you have choices, from leaving the room to finding your moment to shine elsewhere.

What to do: If your sibling’s behavior really bugs you, see if another family member will intervene. If the family is part of the problem (they’ve always focused on her and acted as if you were invisible), tell them how you feel. If they can’t see your point or refuse to change, consider spending less time at family gatherings, especially if you’re not having any fun at them. “Don’t focus your life on old disappointments or resentments toward your siblings or parents,” says Millman. “Your life as an adult depends on finding attachments that make you happy in the present.”

Sample script: “I’d enjoy get-togethers more if we all had a chance to speak.”

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Your Sibling Is Verbally Abusive

Just get over it? Definitely not. Sibling rivalry is normal. But abuse is never OK.

What to do: If your sibling’s comments are often mean-spirited, try to figure out why. “Sit down with him and ask, ‘Why are you behaving this way toward me? What’s the root of it? Why can’t we relate to each other as adults?’” says Vernon Wiehe, a social worker and the author of Sibling Abuse: Hidden Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Trauma ($70, If he responds childishly or seems set in his ways, consider distancing yourself. You can choose to avoid an abusive sibling and meet only at family gatherings. “You do what you would do in any other abusive relationship,” says Goldenthal. “Tell him you can’t spend time with him if he talks to you that way. Don’t invite him over. Don’t play victim. It’s important that you give very clear feedback.”

Sample script: “If you can’t treat me appropriately and respectfully, I’d rather not have anything to do with you. Let’s go our separate ways for a while.”

Your Sibling Is Extremely Competitive or Jealous

Just get over it? Yes. Children compete for a scarce resource: their parents’ attention. Some never feel as if they get enough.

What to do: Don’t respond to your sibling when she starts the “my stuff is better than yours” routine or brags about her son’s lead in the school play. Recognize that it’s competition and that your sibling may not change for years, if ever. Try to change the subject or ignore her bragging. If it gets to you, bring it up. But don’t expect an overnight transformation.

Sample script: “Your new car does sound great. Anyway, can you believe Ohio State pulled that one out on Saturday?”

If your brother or sister is diagnosed with cancer, it can mess with your emotions and your family life – but you don’t have to face this time alone.

You are viewing: Coping with change

Hide jump links

  1. Coping with change
  2. Cancer: the basics
  3. Looking after yourself
  4. Changes at home
  5. How can you help?
  6. Beware of Google!
  7. Dealing with school

Coping with change

What did you feel when you heard about your brother or sister’s cancer? Shock? Fear? Anger? Loneliness? Nothing? Whatever you’re going through, it’s totally normal – and you’re probably feeling a lot of the same things they are.

In the coming months, a lot will change for both of you. You’ll probably find there are times when you feel really close and times when you can’t stand the sight of each other. But trying to be honest about your feelings can help both of you cope – and so can making sure you don’t forget to care for yourself while you care for your brother or sister.

Cancer: the basics

There’s a lot of info on this site about different types of cancers and different treatments. But for starters, here are the basics:

  • Cancer is a disease of the cells, so right now some of your brother or sister’s cells aren’t acting normally
  • The cause of most cancers is unknown – and nothing your brother or sister has done has caused cancer
  • Many cancers can be cured, and cancer treatments are getting better all the time
  • Some of the treatments do have side effects that your brother or sister might experience – like hair loss, feeling tired all the time, being sick and either losing or putting on weight
  • Treatment can last between a few months and a few years
  • You can’t catch cancer from other people.

Looking after yourself

It’s important that you don’t neglect yourself during your brother or sister’s cancer treatment. You need to stay healthy, and it means you’ll be more helpful to your family, too.

So remember to eat well. Get plenty of sleep. Take time to chill with your friends. Do whatever makes you laugh. Talk about your feelings – or maybe write them down if you don’t feel like talking.

And try and stay away from drugs and alcohol. They might seem like a way to block out anything you’re struggling with, but they can leave you feeling really down afterwards.

Changes at home

It’s inevitable that life at home will change. You might find yourself having to do more chores. You might not be able to do all the things you usually do. You might feel like your parents don’t have as much time for you as they did. If you’re home from uni for the holidays, things might seem different too.

It can be tough. And it can also make you really struggle with your emotions.

Because no matter how much you know that these changes are necessary, you might get annoyed at having to do more. Or frustrated that you’re not getting as much attention as your brother or sister. Or there might be times when you get lonely.

Feeling any of these things is totally normal – there’s no right or wrong way to feel. But venting your emotions is usually better than keeping them to yourself.

Talking to your friends and family can help, but it can also be pretty difficult. If you’re more used to keeping quiet about your feelings, you could try writing an email or a letter. Even if you don’t send it, it can help you feel better. And specialist counsellors are available too, to help you make sense of what’s going on.

How can you help?

You probably want to help your brother or sister but might not know how. That’s totally normal. You can always ask them if there’s anything they need (although it can be tough to ask for help, so try to be patient if they sometimes get annoyed).

And you can try and do a few of these simple things too:

Spend time with them

Just do whatever you normally do together. (Even if that means fighting – no one expects your personalities to suddenly change…)

Let them know what’s going on

Instead of talking about cancer the whole time, let them know what you’ve been up to.

Help them contact friends

Remind them to invite friends over, put a post up on Facebook, or send a few texts every now and then.

Hit the kitchen

Learning to cook a few simple, healthy meals will help your brother or sister to eat well – and it’ll take some pressure off your parents too.

Wash your hands

Your brother or sister might be more likely to catch infections during cancer treatment – and washing your hands reduces the risk of infection spreading.

Take some deep breaths

Cancer stresses everyone out – you, your parents, your brother or sister. Sometimes the best thing you can do is count to ten, take a walk, plug your headphones in or do whatever you need to just relax.

Beware of Google!

Finding out more about cancer can be a really good idea. It means you know more about what to expect and about what your brother or sister is going through.

But before you open your phone and hit Google, remember to click carefully. There’s a lot of good information out there, but there are also plenty of scare stories – and it’s easy to get sucked into the scare stories and freak yourself out.

Doctors will be happy to recommend sites you can trust. We’ve included useful links throughout this site too. And remember that everyone’s cancer is different – so the best way to find out what’s really going on is to speak to your brother or sister, or to their doctors.

Dealing with school

Keeping up with school, college or uni isn’t easy when your brother or sister has cancer. You might:

  • Find it hard to concentrate because you’re worried
  • Feel tired because you’re having to do more at home
  • Have less time to do your homework
  • Struggle to see the point of algebra when your brother or sister is in hospital.

Our advice? Whatever you’re going through, don’t pretend everything is OK. Find a teacher you get on with and tell them how you’re feeling.

It might not be easy, but your teachers can help you out if they know what’s going on. If you’ve got exams coming up, you might be able to get your marks adjusted.

And though it doesn’t make any sense, you might find you (or your brother or sister) get bullied about cancer. People sometimes say nasty things if someone’s appearance changes or if they just don’t understand cancer.

This doesn’t happen often, but if it happens to you, let someone know. Staying quiet won’t make the problem go away – and the last thing you need is more stress.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

I come from a family of five: two parents, three daughters. My sisters were older than me and, therefore, much cooler. My earliest memories are of following them around, begging to be involved in their games.

Now my husband and I have just one child. And the inevitable question gets asked of us… ‘Are you going to give her a little brother or sister?’

Research suggests that having a sibling is really good for children, especially in terms of emotional and social development. Kids with brothers and sisters naturally learn sharing and turn-taking behaviour. They learn to wait. They argue, of course, but that means they learn how to handle conflict, and start to understand what it might feel like from the other child’s perspective. They learn patterns of caring for one another.

A 2014 study found that sibling relationships help children develop sympathy, including behaviours like helping and sharing with others. The effect was independent of children’s relationships with parents and friends – in other words, ‘play dates’ didn’t have the same effect as a deep relationship that is embedded in the child’s life

Another study looking at the lives of 57,000 people between 1972-2012 found that children with siblings acquired better social skills, which helped them navigate relationships when they were older. Amazingly, there was actually a correlation between having a sibling and divorce: Each additional sibling, up to about seven, reduced the likelihood of divorce in later life by 2 percent

That’s all great, but what if a sibling isn’t on the cards?

To some degree, childcare choices can replicate the benefits of sibling life. Of the four main childcare options, both a nanny share and a childminder provide a sibling-ish experience. Children form deep relationships with just one or two other children, as would happen in a natural family. And our nanny share families do often tell us of the incredible bond that their child has with the other family’s child.

In fact, our daughter does hang out all day with her best friend, sharing everything with her. And they are indeed close as sisters. Although they squabble – it’s not all smiles and giggles – my daughter hates leaving her best friend at the end of the day, and is sometimes only consoled by the idea that they’ll see each other again tomorrow.

So if you’ve an only child, and are in no rush to produce another, don’t fret. The ‘sibling-like’ experience of a nanny share or childminder can go a long way towards capturing the benefits.

I’ll tell that to the next person who asks.

If you’re thinking about a nanny share, you can find out more here.

Everyone has family conflict. Occasional tension or arguments are a normal part of family life. Whether it’s with your parents or siblings, there are things you can do to stop conflict from getting worse. However, if you feel unsafe or can’t resolve it on your own, you should get help.

This can help if:

  • you’re fighting with your parents/guardian/brother/sister
  • you want some tips on how to talk to your family
  • you want to know how to ease the tension with a family member.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Conflict with parents and guardians

Common reasons for arguing with your parents, guardians or carers are:

  • your opinions and values are different from theirs
  • poor communication: you misunderstand each other and jump to conclusions
  • you want more independence than they’re willing to give you
  • you feel like you’re being treated like a kid
  • they don’t respect your privacy
  • massive changes are happening in the family: separation, divorce, new baby, moving
  • there’s pressure or expectations regarding your friends, job, exams, chores, even your personal style.

Conflict with brothers and sisters

Yep, your annoying bro or sis knows exactly which buttons to push to make you see red. Things that can make these conflicts harder to deal with are:

  • differences in age
  • jealousy, or feeling like you’re not good enough
  • lack of space
  • step-brothers, step-sisters or step-families
  • competitiveness over study, sport or other achievements.

How to deal with conflict

There are different ways of dealing with family conflict. Below are some things you can do. Even if they just give you some time to think about what to do next, that’s a start.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

If it’s something small, like teasing, try not to get wound up. Avoid that family member if you can.

Count to 10

It might sound stupid but walking away and counting to ten can be a good way to avoid saying something you’ll regret later. It also gives you time to come back with a better response.

Get some space

While not solving the problem, it can be good to get some head space either with friends or by yourself. Try exercising or chilling out.

Talk it over with someone else

Getting a different perspective can help you understand why you have a conflict. It might also help you identify some useful strategies for resolving or handling it.

Tips for talking it out

If you’re fighting with your parents, you might try having a calm conversation with them about what’s going on. They’ll probably be impressed to see you take such a mature approach to the problem, especially if you initiate it. Even with annoying siblings, clear and calm communication will almost always be the best way to sort things out and come to an arrangement that works for all of you.

  • Pick a time when no one is angry, upset, stressed or tired.
  • Choose a place where you can sit and talk without being interrupted.
  • Be willing to compromise, and come up with options you’re willing to accept.
  • Avoid being sarcastic or verbally attacking the other person.
  • Be honest. If something really upsets you, let the other person know.
  • Listen to what the other person has to say, and accept that their point of view might be just as valid as yours. (This is easier said than done, but it’s well worth it!)
  • Once you’ve settled on something you can agree to, stick to it – maybe for a set period of time.
  • If talking feels impossible, try writing an email or a letter, explaining how you feel.

If you can’t reach a compromise, you might have to ‘agree to disagree’. Remember that you can have your own opinions, based on your personal experience, beliefs and values, and you don’t always have to agree with your family.

If you don’t feel safe

If you feel like you’re in danger, go to our urgent help page. You don’t have to solve this problem on your own. There are a number of services that can talk you through the best approach to your situation and help you work out a solution.

What can I do now?

  • Work on building your communication skills.
  • Talk to your parents/guardian. They might not realise how seriously you view the problem.
  • Get tips on being a good listener.
  • If things aren’t getting better, contact a helpline for support.

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How to tolerate an annoying brother

Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Sibling rivalry isn’t always outgrown in childhood, however; in some cases, it only intensifies as time passes. While people often think of sibling rivalry as a childhood phenomenon, adult sibling rivalry is a common phenomenon in which adult siblings struggle to get along, argue, or are even estranged from one another.

If you feel strained in your relationship with your family because your parents favor another sibling or another sibling’s family, you may be surprised to find that you’re not alone. While most parents love their adult children, it’s surprisingly common for a parent to be closer to, or more supportive of, particular adult offspring over others, sparking sibling rivalry.

Research on Parent Favoritism

Research has shown that parenting plays a significant role in contributing to adult sibling rivalry. While parents may strive to remain unbiased when it comes to their kids, favoritism is actually very common.

Research has found:

  • Favoritism affects mental health. Other research shows that parental favoritism negatively affects the mental health of all of the children in the family, either by creating resentment in the less-favored children, stress from high parental expectations for the favored child, strained sibling relationships, and other negative consequences.
  • Parents often feel closer to one child. A study from Cornell University included interviews from 275 mothers in their 60s and 70s and their 671 offspring. 70% of the mothers could specify a child to whom they felt closest. Interestingly, only 15% of interviewed offspring felt that there was equal treatment by their mothers.
  • The impact of this favoritism can be lasting. Research suggests that the effects of perceived parental favoritism can last through life.

So if you feel that you’re less favored by your parents and that pain is affecting you in adulthood, you’re not alone.

Reasons for Adult Sibling Rivalry

Sibling relationships are complex and influenced by a variety of factors including genetics, life events, gender, parental relationships, and experiences outside of the family.

Parental favoritism is often cited as a source of adult sibling rivalry. It’s also common for people to feel that a sibling is or ‘has always been’ favored by a parent, even if this may not be recognized or acknowledged by the rest of the family. While it hurts to be the less favored ‘child’, it’s human nature for some people to be drawn together for various reasons, such as:

  • Geographical proximity: Your sister who lives closer to mom may understandably spend more time with her.
  • Shared personality features: Your dad and brother think the same way, and thus understand each other more easily.
  • Other factors within or beyond your control: Perhaps your worldview doesn’t match your parents’ as closely as that of one of your siblings, and they resent it, consciously or unconsciously.

Research shows that parents are more ambivalent toward children who are not married, less educated, and share fewer of their values.

While this can be human nature, it stings more when coming from a parent, as we think of our parents as people who are supposed to love and support us unconditionally, and we may still see them as a little greater than human (a viewpoint leftover from childhood).

Coping With Adult Sibling Rivalry

Whatever the reason, if you find that one or more parents are favoring another sibling over you, either by having a closer relationship with your sister’s kids, bragging more about your brother’s accomplishments, paying more attention to your sister, or always taking your brother’s side in a disagreement, it can make for a stressful family gathering with raw feelings that can be easily hurt.

You can read about some ways to cope with sibling rivalry as an adult.

Don’t Take It Personally

Understand that your parent may not ‘love’ the other sibling more, they just feel closer or more invested in their lives, for whatever reason. They may not even be aware of it, and most likely not doing it to hurt your feelings.

If they are actively trying to hurt you as ‘punishment’ for not being more the person they’d like you to be, perhaps it’s best that you’re not closer.

Find Support Elsewhere in Your Life

Find supportive people in your life to provide the love, acceptance, and approval you may not get from your parents as much as you’d like. While we may not be born into families of people who think like us and share our values, there are many people in the world that can provide the support that our family members may be unable to give.

Find a support system that offers unconditional love and invest your energy there.

Don’t Perpetuate Sibling Rivalry

Don’t compete with your siblings, and don’t blame them for being favored. Even if they’re going out of their way to remain the favorite, you can’t blame them for wanting their parent’s love and approval. Just accept that your relationship with your parents is yours and try to keep it separate from sibling relationships.

Accept the Reality of the Situation

You’ll also feel better if you accept that you may not get as much support and approval from parents as you want, and that’s okay. If you don’t come at them from a place of need, you will actually have more personal power.

It may be difficult to get into this frame of thought, but you’ll feel better after you do. Start by noticing all that you do get from them, and valuing that. Also, you can notice everything that you get from other areas of your life, and realize that your family of origin is only one part of your life, and it doesn’t have to be the most important part.

Invest In Your Own Family

Finally, if you have a committed relationship or family of your own, you can focus on providing that which you’d like to be getting from your family of origin. Focus on what you share with them, and on what you can provide to yourself in your own life, and you’ll be better able to accept familial quirks.

Get Additional Support If Needed

Given that there can be lasting negative effects of parental favoritism and sibling rivalry that last into adulthood if you feel significant stress from this situation and you feel you need extra support in managing this stress, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional.

There are many qualified therapists who deal with family-of-origin issues like these, and they can help quite a bit with the stress. You can also adopt general stress management habits to lessen the overall stress load and make it easier to cope.

Talk to your doctor if you feel like you need help coping with relationship stress or consult a mental health professional in your area.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Image Source / Getty Images

If you have more than one child, chances are good to excellent that you’ve had to referee sibling fighting and rivalry. The fact is, even the best sibling relationships can have their moments of conflict and friction.

But with a little insight and patience, a much more peaceful home and sibling harmony can be achieved. When a good sibling bond is established early, and children are taught how to manage conflict with their brother or sister, fighting and rivalry can be greatly minimized.   Once children learn how to work through their differences, this very important family bond can flourish and grow strong.

Common Causes of Sibling Conflict

First, try to understand why sibling fighting may occur. Each skirmish may be set off by something different—say a fight over whose turn it is to sweep the floors or who gets to decide what TV show or movie to watch—but the root cause may be a bigger issue.

In some cases, the problem may be a clash of personalities. In others, it may be unresolved feelings of rivalry. For instance, a child may feel like mom or dad favors their sibling. Another child may feel resentful because they think they don’t get to do as much because they are younger. Or one sibling may simply like things to be quieter and calmer while the other one is all about action and adventure.  

How to Handle Sibling Fighting

Whatever the cause, it’s important that parents do what they can to foster a good relationship between siblings, and make sure that any conflicts do not damage their relationship. Here’s what parents can do to manage fighting among siblings:

Your older son doesn’t want to pinch and push any more than your younger son wants to be pinched and pushed, Matt Beard says. Take that as your starting point

  • Sharing the Load is a column about parenting children of all ages

‘Violence – in kids, and often in adults – is driven by fear, loneliness and a need for connection.’ Photograph: pbombaert/Getty Images

‘Violence – in kids, and often in adults – is driven by fear, loneliness and a need for connection.’ Photograph: pbombaert/Getty Images

My three-year-old keeps pinching and pushing over his little brother. What can I do?

A weird thing happens when we see kids using violence. Suddenly, the child who five minutes ago seemed completely innocent, in need of our guidance, care and protection, is suddenly transformed in our minds into a fully rational, autonomous and morally responsible being who knew what they did and why.

Our instinct is to place the two children into different categories: victim and perpetrator (and this is even more tempting when, as in your situation, one of the kids is considerably bigger and older). For the victim, we offer our sympathy, hugs, care and concern. We tell them everything will be OK, that they didn’t deserve to be hit and that we’re so sorry it happened.

To the perpetrator, we usually offer some kind of lecture. We tell them it was wrong, that we don’t accept that kind of behaviour in this house. We tell them to apologise, to see what they’ve done to upset the other child.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re trying to engender two different emotions in the two children. In the victim, we’re trying to create a feeling of safety. In the aggressor, we’re trying to create a sense of guilt. If we can’t stop the violence, we can at least make sure they feel bad about it.

This isn’t without justification. It’s pretty much exactly what we would do if the victim and aggressor were adults. We expect adults not to use violence. If they do, we focus our moral attention on the victim, ensuring they’re supported. At the same time, we want the wrongdoer to face justice, feel guilty and try to make it up to the person they’ve harmed.

But as deeply held as our beliefs about violence and the perpetrator-victim dichotomy are, they’re not helpful to us as parents for an obvious reason. We’re not dealing with adults. We’re not dealing with people who can reason, or who we can hold responsible for their actions. We’re dealing with a three-year-old who is – no matter how smart – pretty stupid, morally speaking. And this means we need a different way of framing the child who hits and our response to them.

The problem is it’s super hard to have the clear head we need to frame this differently and take another approach. As parents, we typically struggle to handle situations where our children are being violent. One of the quiet, unspoken fears for many parents is that they’ll be the one with that kid. You know, the one everyone else looks at in the playground, the one who makes other kids cry.

Feeling that we’re the parent of a kid who doesn’t fit the socially acceptable script is awful. It leaves both us and our kids alienated. It can also make us feel powerless. I’m betting your three-year-old isn’t particularly open to being reasoned with, and the whole “eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” speech won’t cut it for a few years. Which means you’ve probably given some variation on “we don’t push in this house, we use our words” about a thousand times.

What’s more, you’re not just processing having a kid who hurts other kids. You’re also the parents whose kid is being hurt. That’s distressing. You don’t want your son to be hurt. You don’t want him to feel unsafe or unaccepted. You want him to feel loved. And you don’t want an upset child clawing at your leg all day either.

So if we do an emotional stocktake we’ve got a lot of fear – of alienation and social judgment – exhaustion, powerlessness, heartbreak at seeing your younger child hurting and extra exhaustion because now you’ve got crying kids. And of course, you’re the parent and it’s your job to preside over a fair, respectful, non-violent household, right?

You’re feeling alone in your troubles, scared of what they mean, heartbroken at the hurt your son has suffered and somewhere between angry, exhausted, disappointed and devastated that it’s happened at the hands of his older brother. It’s hardly the time to get philosophical about what’s happening. Still, I’m a philosopher, so I’m going to tell you that you should –and you can throw something at me later if you want.

In Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges, parenting expert Patty Wipfler makes a bold but fairly intuitive claim. She argues that a child who is feeling secure and safe doesn’t hit. Violence – in kids, and often in adults – is driven by fear, loneliness and a need for connection.

If you think about it this way – taking as your starting point that your older son doesn’t want to pinch and push any more than your younger son wants to be pinched and pushed, then you can find a way to see what the two kids have in common. They’re both stuck in a situation they don’t know how to manage. They both feel unsafe. They both need the care, hugs and attention.

This doesn’t mean we overlook what’s happened. You should make sure your younger son knows it wasn’t OK that he was hit, that he shouldn’t be treated like that, and that he’s loved.

And we shouldn’t continue to explain away violence as a sign of insecurity as our kids age, either. The thinking I’m advocating here expires as your son develops his own autonomy, sense of freedom and responsibility.

Here’s one thing I wouldn’t do though: fight fire with fire. When we’re at our wits end, we can resort to shouting, punishment, smacking or roughly moving the older child away. We meet the violence with violence and, in so doing, we legitimise violence as a form of communication. And, as the philosopher Hannah Arendt said, violence is a language that understands only itself. If your home communicates in violence, there’s no doubt your kids will take that lead.

How to tolerate an annoying brother

Welcome Meddleheads, to the column where your crazy meets my crazy! Please send your questions via email. Right now. Not only will you immediately feel much better, you’ll also get some advice.

Dear Steve,

My wife’s sister, we’ll call her Sarah, is married to a fellow we’ll call Stan. Stan is a good and decent person. He’s genuinely kind, reasonably intelligent and he treats Sarah like gold. So, what’s the problem?

Stan drives me nuts. It’s nothing he did in particular. His personality just annoys the daylights out of me. I find that he tries too hard to be liked. He’s cloying. He obliviously oversteps boundaries. And he can’t just shoot the breeze. Every encounter has to be intense — an opportunity for meaningful connection and bonding. It’s exhausting.

My wife and her sister are very close, and they put a lot of pressure on me and Stan to be BFFs. Stan seems perfectly comfortable with this arrangement, but I’m clearly not. I’m trying to put my best foot forward, but I feel resentful that I have to spend so much time with someone whose company I don’t enjoy.

Is there anything I can do? I don’t want to upset my wife, or create any kind of family drama. Should I just suck it up, and work on perfecting my poker face?

Dear Irritated,

Is there anything you can do? Yes. You can do two things. First, you can tell your wife how you feel. It’s not a crime to dislike someone, even someone your wife very much wants you to like. But it is a crime — or a recipe for disaster at least — to withhold your true feelings from your wife. Clearly, you recognize how close she is to her sister and how much that relationship means to her. And that’s great. It’s also laudable that Stan tries hard to connect with you, even if he tries too hard. You should acknowledge both these facts.

At the same time, you’re not a kid on a mandatory play date. You’re an adult who wants to feel some sense of volition when it comes to whom you befriend. That’s totally reasonable. And clearly the semi-compulsory nature of this relationship puts you off. You can lead a husband to a water cooler, basically, but you can’t make him talk to the other guy standing there.

The thing about friendship, after all, what differentiates it from familial or marital relationships, is that it’s ultimately a matter of discretion, not obligation. In this sense, you really need to tell your wife to ease up on the pressure. It may be once she and her sister stop pushing you two to be besties, you can both, you know, relax a little. And perhaps this will help Stan to turn down the volume on his neediness a bit. Try to remember that he, too, is getting pressured by his wife. That may well explain some of his urgency when it comes to bonding with you.

you’re not a kid on a mandatory play date. You’re an adult who wants to feel some sense of volition when it comes to whom you befriend.

I can understand why your wife and her sister want you guys to get along. It would be so darn convenient, and would allow them to interact without feeling that they’re leaving you guys out. But ultimately, they should be able to have a close relationship without trying to fix you guys up.

The other thing you can do, Irritated, is to ask yourself a very basic question: Why does this Stan guy bug me so much? I advise this because whenever I have a strong reaction to someone it’s always — always — because their personality contains aspects of my own personality about which I have (shall we say) conflicted feelings. If you just found the guy boring, or you had nothing in common, that would be one thing. But the fact that he actively annoys you suggests you’re harboring some kind of unexamined identification with him.

And given the fact that you’re going to have to be relating to Stan regularly (possibly for the rest of your life), it would be a good idea to figure out now why he gets on your nerves so much. A little self-reflection goes a long way in these matters.

My own hunch is that simply cutting back on the enforced interactions will make all of this easier to bear. So will speaking your mind, rather than keeping your resentment bottled up. Because believe me, if your wife is anything like mine, she’s already picking up on that bad vibes.

Good luck with all this, brother.

A Special Message from Steve

Dear Heavy Meddle Readers,

If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you enjoy reading this column. Or at least that you enjoy hating reading this column. So, if you are reading this, please do me a favor and send a letter. You can use this form, or send your questions via email. I may not have a helpful response, but as I always stress, someone in the comments section probably will. Thanks.

Also, join me at Faneuil Hall on Tuesday, October 6th for “Made in Boston: Stories of Invention and Innovation.” This HUBweek event will feature the city’s best journalists, authors and innovators offering a behind-the-scenes look at stories that originated in Boston and reverberated around the world. For ticket info, click here. See you there!

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family.” This quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird” is universally recognized, but it didn’t hit home until recently.

When I got married, I began to subconsciously distance myself from my party-loving girlfriends. When I changed careers, I learned the importance of spending time with people that champion my endeavors. And in my 30s, I realized that time is too precious to pal around with negative people. So I mustered up the courage to part ways with a few toxic friends. Cutting people out of your life is never easy but you’ll find you are much better off for having done it. But what about when the person bringing you down is blood-related? Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be close to my brother. My mom says when I’d go to birthday parties, I’d return home with a crumbled cookie I’d saved for him. In high school, I never told on my brother when he snuck beer from my parent’s fridge. And when he landed a job after college, I flew out to help him settle into his first apartment. But then things went south. My brother lost his job, turned bitter, and began to take his frustrations out on everyone around him. He’d complain incessantly yet would bite your head off if you tried to offer him advice. He was a constant source of tension within my family and would manipulate me to distilling tidbits of information to my mother so she’d pay off his debt. My brother became, in every essence of the word, toxic.

Still, I tried to maintain our relationship, clinging to the notion that we might one day be close. I justified his actions, thinking, “he’ll be happier when he starts to figure out his life.” But one swanky salary, supportive girlfriend, and upgraded living situation later, he was still the same volatile person. I finally sought help from a therapist who explained the dangers of further engaging in this toxic relationship. I’ve since learned a few things about how to handle a difficult family member. Whenever I feel bad about putting myself first, I resort to these seven techniques. Decide your role in the relationship The first thing my therapist said to me was, “You have to figure out what role you want to play within this relationship dynamic.” She explained that I was stuck in a family triangle as the piece holding my brother and parents together. “This is a tough place to be and is a lot of pressure to put on you,” she noted. After much thought, I decided I didn’t want to be the middleman anymore. If my parents and brother wanted to talk to each other, they had to do it on their own terms. Set (and stick to) boundaries To reinforce my newly defined intentions, I realized I had to set boundaries. I told my parents I no longer felt comfortable discussing and analyzing my brother with them. Then, I told my brother if he had anything he wanted to relay to my parents, he should do it directly. It’s OK to take a time-out from a family member During one session, my therapist asked, “What do you need right now in this situation?” Without giving it too much thought, I replied, “a break.” I took a step back and concluded that talking to my brother was only causing my stress level to go up. With everything going on in my life, that was the last thing I needed. I decided I needed to pull back from the relationship. I established that if he called, I would answer but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make contact with him. I was sick of him making me feel guilty over my personal achievements (and failing to acknowledge I’d worked my butt off for them). So I decided to block him from my Facebook updates. If he wasn’t able to see photos of my husband and me on vacations and updates about success at work, then he had nothing to hold above my head.

Family drama is inevitable “Remember no one has the ‘TV family,’” says Susan Trombetti, relationship expert and owner of Exclusive Matchmaking. In deciding to back away from my brother, I was reminded that, for many years, my father didn’t speak to one of his brothers. My mother has had issues with her sisters all of her life and engages in the bare minimum of contact with them. I realized that it doesn’t make me a terrible person if my brother and I don’t become the closest people on Earth, especially if I’ve given it a fair attempt. Don’t let your boundaries turn into fear My initial concern with cutting my brother off was that he would get mad and pull away from me indefinitely. But at the end of the day, I reminded myself: 1) If that happened, it wouldn’t entirely be my fault, 2) He’ll likely come back around when he gets his life in order and works on himself. And as I’ve implemented these changes, I’ve found the latter to be true. My brother will disappear from my life for six months at a time, but then I’ll receive an out-of-the-blue text or email from him. During those six months, I’m happily drama-free; when he comes back around, he’s gentler in his approach, as our relationship has had the space that it needed. Their issues are not your fault No matter how much my brother has tried to blame me for his shortcomings and our lack of a relationship, I’ve had to remind myself that he is in control of his own life. Trombetti stresses that it’s important to remember that “they are broke and you can’t fix them. You can only operate from your own moral compass and not get caught up in their anger, drama, or toxic behavior.” Not my circus, not my monkeys After years of dealing with the back-and-forth aspects of my brother’s negativity, I’ve learned that it’s his drama, not mine. I have since realized that, as a family, we can care about my brother and offer support, but at the end of the day, it’s not healthy for us to absorb the stress associated with his day-to-day issues. “Not my circus, not my monkeys,” my mom once told me. I have since uttered that Polish proverb to myself when I begin to feel my brother’s issues creep into my life. Salvaging a damaged relationship with a member of your family can be a difficult journey. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. The main thing to remember is that taking a time out from a toxic relative, setting boundaries for the relationship, and stepping away from their drama doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s great to be a support system for your family but it’s equally as important that you are taking care of your own needs in the process.


  • 1 English
    • 1.1 Alternative forms
    • 1.2 Etymology
    • 1.3 Pronunciation
    • 1.4 Noun
      • 1.4.1 Usage notes
      • 1.4.2 Coordinate terms
      • 1.4.3 Hypernyms
      • 1.4.4 Derived terms
      • 1.4.5 Related terms
      • 1.4.6 Descendants
      • 1.4.7 Translations
    • 1.5 Verb
      • 1.5.1 Translations
    • 1.6 Interjection
  • 2 Middle English
    • 2.1 Alternative forms
    • 2.2 Etymology
    • 2.3 Pronunciation
    • 2.4 Noun
      • 2.4.1 Related terms
      • 2.4.2 Descendants
      • 2.4.3 References
  • 3 Old Frisian
    • 3.1 Etymology
    • 3.2 Noun
      • 3.2.1 Descendants
  • 4 Portuguese
    • 4.1 Noun

Alternative forms Edit

  • brotha (Jamaican English, AAVE)
  • brothah
  • brothuh
  • bruvver (Cockney, MLE)

Etymology Edit

Pronunciation Edit

  • ( UK ) IPA (key) : /ˈbɹʌðə(ɹ)/
  • Audio (UK) (file)
  • ( US ) IPA (key) : /ˈbɹʌðɚ/
  • ( New Zealand ) IPA (key) : /ˈbɹɐðɘ(ɹ)/
  • ( th-fronting ) IPA (key) : /ˈbɹʌvə(ɹ)/
  • Audio (US) (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌðə(ɹ)

Noun Edit

brother (plural brothers or ( archaic in most senses ) brethren)

    Son of the same parents as another person.

Usage notes Edit

  • The plural “brethren” (cf. “sistren”, “sistern”) is not used for biological brothers in contemporary English (although it was in older usage). It still finds use, however, in the meaning of “members of a religious order”. It is also sometimes used in other figurative senses, e.g. “adherents of the same religion”, “countrymen”, and the like.

Coordinate terms Edit

  • ( with regards to gender ) : sister

Hypernyms Edit

  • ( son of common parents ) : sibling

Derived terms Edit

  • brothered
  • brotherhood
  • brotherless
  • brotherlike
  • brotherly
  • co-brother
  • big brother / Big Brother
  • blood brother
  • brother german
  • brother-in-arms
  • brother-in-law
  • Brother Jonathan
  • Christian Brother
  • cousin brother / cousin-brother
  • everyone and their brother / everybody and their brother
  • foster brother / foster-brother
  • half brother / half-brother
  • lay brother
  • little brother
  • milk brother
  • soul brother
  • stepbrother / step-brother
  • uterine brother
  • Xaverian Brother

Related terms Edit

  • fraternal
  • fraternity
  • friar

Descendants Edit

  • Bahamian Creole: bredda
  • Belizean Creole: breda
  • Bislama: brata
  • Cameroon Pidgin: bro̱da
  • Gullah: broda
  • Hawaiian Creole: braddah
  • Islander Creole English: broda
  • → Japanese: ブラザー
  • Kabuverdianu: bróda
  • → Korean: 브라더 ( beuradeo )
  • Krio: brohda
  • Nicaraguan Creole: brada
  • Nigerian Pidgin: broda
  • Pichinglis: brɔda
  • Pijin: brata
  • Saramaccan: baáa
  • Sranan Tongo: brada
    • → Dutch: brada
  • Tok Pisin: brata
  • , barata
  • → Portuguese: brada
  • ( Mozambique )
  • → Brazilian Portuguese: bróder , bródi , brother

Translations Edit

Verb Edit

brother (third-person singular simple present brothers, present participle brothering, simple past and past participle brothered)

  1. ( transitive ) To treat as a brother.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe: Seest thou not we are overreached, and that our proposed mode of communicating with our friends without has been disconcerted by this same motley gentleman thou art so fond to brother?

Translations Edit

Interjection Edit

  1. Expressing exasperation. We’re being forced to work overtime? Oh, brother!

Alternative forms Edit

  • broþer , broþir , broþur , broder , broðer , brothir , brothur , broiþer , bruther , brodir , broder , brothre , broþre , brodyr
  • ( Ormulum ) broþerr

Etymology Edit

Pronunciation Edit

  • IPA (key) : /ˈbroːðər/

Noun Edit

brother (plural brether or bretheren or brotheren or ( rare ) brothers , genitive brother or brothers )

Having a second child is often much easier than the first — no fears of the unknown or doubts about how to take care of your baby. But along with this confidence comes a new set of challenges.

Second-time parents can’t devote all their time and energy to the most recent addition to the family.

While they’re still tired after the birth, trying to cope with the housework, missing sleep and settling their new baby into a routine, there is another small child desperate for their attention.

If you can keep your toddler happy, the rest is likely to fall into place. That’s why it’s important to understand your firstborn’s reactions to your new baby.

A little brother or sister can appear very threatening to a toddler. From their perspective, their parents had more time to help, comfort or play with them. They would come at the first cry.

Now, all their attention seems focused on that noisy little bundle, and they are expected to be ‘big’. It is normal for toddlers to blame the ‘intruder’ for this change in their routine.

Sometimes, toddlers will appear to forget how to use a potty or how to feed themselves. Or they will cry as much as your new baby. They are trying to show you that they are still small and helpless. They believe this is the best way to get your attention.

For parents, the new baby’s needs are obvious, and it might seem reasonable to expect the eldest child to wait. But toddlers won’t, so parents of 2 or more children must be resourceful and versatile.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead can prevent many of those ‘baby is taking my place’ feelings. If you intend to change your toddler’s room or furniture, try to do this early in your pregnancy. Explain that you’re doing it because your toddler is growing bigger, not because the new baby will need their cot.

It’s easier if your toddler is already potty trained and can feed and dress themselves without help before your new baby comes home, but don’t worry if this isn’t the case. Remember that your toddler may revert to old habits to attract your attention.

Encourage your toddler to socialise and play with other children, perhaps in a playgroup. This helps your child to develop the social skills they will need to have a good relationship with their new sibling.

Breaking the news

Tell your toddler about the new baby but not too soon. Tell them later in the pregnancy when they can see what is happening.

Help your toddler to get used to the idea of a new baby in the family by talking about ‘our baby’, and looking at baby pictures in albums or magazines. Some parents take their toddlers to visit the maternity ward, or friends with newborns. You could help them to start a scrapbook about babies.

If you are having a hospital birth, start talking about going away to have ‘our baby’ a little before the due date. Explain what arrangements you’ve made for your toddler while you’re in hospital. Children need time to adjust. It’s very important that they feel secure about your return. When you go to hospital, you could ask them to look after something for you until you return, like a favourite book or bag.

Hospital visits

Arranging for your toddler to visit you and your new baby in hospital is a good idea. Toddlers like to see newborns, and maybe touch or hold them, and they love to hear stories about themselves when they were tiny. When your toddler is leaving, you could give them a surprise envelope to open at home or in the car — a great way to avoid difficult goodbyes.

Feeling secure

It’s obvious that handling toddlers wisely can lead to a more peaceful household, but it’s also important for their own wellbeing. Feeling secure and good about themselves is the basis of their self-confidence later in life, and these feelings can be badly shaken if they feel like a ‘nobody’ or a nuisance around the baby.

Toddlers need to continue feeling loved, wanted and important, and there are many small ways to achieve this. Grandparents can be a great help in making toddlers feel special. It also helps if the parent who is not on ‘baby duty’ can focus on the toddler.

Going home

If you’re having a hospital birth, make sure your toddler gets lots of your attention when you come home. Ask someone else to carry your baby while you give your toddler a hug and a cuddle. If their response seems less than enthusiastic, remember that they may be feeling hurt and replaced by someone who seems to be the centre of attention most of the time.

If your friends or relatives visit, you could ask them to pay attention to your toddler, too. Spending time with your toddler is far more important than keeping up with housework. Share games with them and get down to their level — for example, on hands and knees to build blocks, or on your tummy to draw with them.

Remember that all the care in the world will not prevent an older child having strong reactions towards the baby now and then. But with good management, you can help minimise discomfort and attention-seeking behaviour.

Accepting the baby

Toddlers feel important and responsible when they’re allowed to hold a baby. Encourage yours to do so, but keep watch so they don’t accidentally squash or drop the baby. Holding the toddler on your lap while they hold the baby is safest. Show your toddler how to stroke your baby gently with their palm to prevent accidental poking or scratching.

Involving children in caring for the new baby with you lets you spend time with your toddler, and encourages them to see themselves as a big sister or brother with responsibilities.


Never leave a toddler alone with a baby. They may be tempted to share a biscuit, which could choke the baby, or rock the pram to stop the crying which may overturn it.

It helps to have hook-and-eye catches high up on doors to keep doors closed when you need to. Door barriers are useful too — you can see over them and the baby can get used to household noise, but they keep the toddler out of the baby’s room.

Feed times

Feed times can be particularly difficult as it’s hard to keep an eye on toddlers at the same time. Toddlers can also get jealous or frightened, and act out by hitting or pulling at the baby. They might also demand attention by grizzling, wetting their pants or wanting things.

Do a ‘toddler’ check before starting a feed:

  • Is your toddler busy playing or sleeping?
  • Are they in a safe place?
  • Is the gate fastened?
  • Is the potty handy?
  • Is there a drink or snack within easy reach?

If your toddler likes to stay with you while you’re feeding your baby, cuddling them or reading them a story at the same time could make feeding time a highlight for them too.

You could also use feed time props like dolls, which some toddlers like to look after as their ‘baby’ while you feed the new baby.

An old bag and some discarded clothes for toddlers who like to dress up can also be a distraction. Most toddlers are happy drawing or playing with blocks at your feet.

Try turning on the radio or playing music to make your baby’s mealtime a relaxing experience for all of you.

Making sure that your toddler doesn’t feel rejected is important, but so is your need for peace and quiet to feed your baby. Find the simplest way that works for you to have restful feeding times.

Little background information: He’s 16 and just got his license. His name is Kyle.

He’s been acting completely out of line. He gets home a few weeks ago at 2 in the morning. My dad wakes up and goes to yell at him for being home so late. So my dad does that and Kyle just acts like a complete butch the entire time. He was rolling his eyes at him, saying “OK WHATEVER” in a typical teenage girl tone, and then started calling my dad an “ugly fat peice of shit” and other things. So my dad goes to grab him and Kyle goes fucking apeshit. He fucking punches my dad and pushes him into the miror behind him shattering it. My dad finally has enough and tries to kick him out of the house. But my mom is there at this point and she vetos his decision (They are in the middle of a divorce and pretty much hate each other. Resulting in a lack of empathy for my dad).

Kyle acts like this for the next couple of weeks. He and my dad get into a few scuffles every few days, but my mom refuses to intervene.

So one day after they’re done arguing, I confront Kyle. I basically told him that he’s being a disrespectful shithead and that he needs to stop. He then threatens to post some embarrassing shit about me on the Internet (lol I sound like a middle school girl) Then he goes apeshit on me and starts throwing punches. I retaliate, and get one in his gut, one on his jaw. Then he just gets more angry and gets a fucking baseball bat. At this point I was just trying to survive, but I was also fucking cause he hit me with the bat. I managed to wrestle him to the floor. Then I was simply seeing red. I just let loose. My mom came home right as this was happening and ripped me off.

My mom takes him to the hospital. He has a mild concussion, a broken nose, and an orbital fracture. Cops come by. They ask a few questions then leave.

So my brother comes home and tells me that he is going to get my mom to file a restraining order against me. (No idea if he can do this or not). He also said if I ever touch him again, he will press charges (I’m 18).

TNN | Last updated on – Dec 18, 2017, 14:43 IST

01 /7 Being the youngest one…

Being the youngest of all siblings comes with its own set of privileges. They are the most pampered kid of the family, and can get away with anything and everything. The elder siblings are always there to protect them, and entertain their whims and fancies. Money is never a problem, considering they manage to extract a good amount from all the earning members of the family. They are mocked for being the parents’ favourite (and they love this!), and get all the special attention of the family. Most importantly, by the time they grow up, all the strict rules that were followed by their siblings have either vanished or being toned down. These perks make their life easier, no doubt!

But only the youngest ones understand that the downfalls of this deal. Before you start thinking the youngest ones have it all, let’s shed some light on points (aka logical reasons) that justify that it is not all rainbows and sunshine. Here are seven struggles that only the youngest kid can relate to…
Pic: Pixabay readmore

02 /7 You always remain a kid

03 /7 You are always insulted

04 /7 What about clothes, books and toys?

Have you ever wondered what it feels like wearing your sibling’s ‘used’ school blaze every year and never getting to buy one for yourself? The same applies to all their clothes. Can someone think about latest fashion trends, please?

What about the scraped books that no longer looks interesting? The toys that have been already toyed countless times, and are inherited to you? Only youngest ones can feel the agony of using the stuff that belonged to their brothers and sisters!
Image: Pexels readmore

When children help with the education of a brother or sister with special needs, the outcomes are often good for both.

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  • How to tolerate an annoying brother

    By Keren Landman

    Not long after my mother learned that my brother, David, was autistic, she began what she called “little school”: sessions in which she taught him to draw faces, cut with scissors, read and cook. He was 4, I was 2. I recently asked her how she balanced David’s needs with mine. “You were the teacher’s assistant,” she said. “I was trying to make you feel important.”

    It was the 1970s, and researchers considered siblings of children with disabilities as a sort of disadvantaged population. Since then, a body of research suggests that when children help with the education of a brother or sister with a disability, the outcomes are often good for both — and my mom was way ahead of the curve. She believed she could help David and lift me up, too. There wasn’t a lot of guidance at the time, so Mom hired an education specialist and talked to David’s teachers and school psychologist.

    More recently, researchers have viewed families with special-needs children through a more positive, less stigmatizing lens, said Meghan Burke, Ph.D., an associate professor of special education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This modern framework acknowledges the strengths children may gain from having a sibling with a disability, including enhanced adaptability, empathy and tolerance, said Burke.

    However, several studies have suggested these siblings also have higher rates of anxiety, depression and difficulty with peers. Low income families are especially vulnerable because they have less access to resources.

    What is clear, Dr. Burke said, is that siblings of children with special needs have needs, too — and parents can do a lot to meet those needs with the help of a few strategies and resources.

    Share information

    “The first thing is to recognize that the sibling experience parallels the parents’ experience,” said Emily Holl, director of the Sibling Support Project, a national program that works with siblings of people with disabilities. Like adults, children desperately want information about their siblings’ health, but they’re often excluded from the conversations parents have with doctors, social workers and therapists.

    “A child’s imagination is much wilder, often, than reality,” said Avidan Milevsky, Ph. D., a psychotherapist and associate professor of psychology at Ariel University in the occupied West Bank. In the absence of accurate information, “that child, in their mind, is creating these horrific explanations for why their brother’s in the hospital, or why Mom is crying when the doctor calls.” Children may also imagine disability to be contagious, Holl said. “If you can catch your brother’s strep throat, why wouldn’t you be able to catch spina bifida?”

    Holl recommends a proactive approach to informing siblings about a diagnosis. Find age-appropriate books that explain the condition and include siblings in visits with health care providers.

    Good examples and equal expectations

    According to Dr. Milevsky, siblings of children with special needs often grow up quickly and feel a sense of responsibility for their siblings in a phenomenon often called parentification. This might seem like a positive outcome for parents — a good kid is one who takes some of the burden off her parents. But too much parentification can lead to behavioral problems and feelings of rejection.

    As young adults, siblings may struggle to understand how much caretaking is normal in a relationship or a marriage after taking on so much caregiving as children. My own parentification most likely fostered my disinterest in having children. I’ll never forget cleaning up the bloody shards of glass my brother left after breaking a bathroom window with his face during a tantrum. Today my eyelid twitches when I imagine caring for anything with more needs than a goldfish.

    Most experts agree you should encourage your kid to be a kid as long as possible. Some young children worry about where their siblings will live and who will care for them in adulthood. Parents should create opportunities to talk about the future and to assure their children that they are making plans.

    In Holl’s practice, she’s noticed that some children experienced less resentment toward special-needs siblings. She said their families did two things. First, they set equal expectations of all siblings as best they can — with respect to behavior and chores, for example. And second, they have a family life that revolves around something other than the disability, whether it’s a shared activity like camping or music, or an organization or faith community in which the whole family can participate.

    The single strongest factor affecting a sibling’s interpretation of the disability is the parent’s interpretation of the disability, Holl said. Approach your child’s disability with humor and grace, as something you’ll all work through together, and the other children at home will have a more positive outlook.

    Make time for the sibling to connect with parents and peers

    “Isolation is one of the major issues that siblings face,” Holl said. Studies of siblings of children with autism and intellectual disabilities have pointed to a pattern of loneliness, peer problems and depression in children as young as 5.

    I don’t remember much of my 5th birthday party, but my mother says it was the first time I was aware of other kids noticing my brother’s disability. After that, she said, I didn’t have many friends over.

    It’s important for siblings to know that they’re not alone, Holl said. Her organization administers Sibshops, peer support groups that use play-based activities to help siblings of children with disabilities. Participants tend to be between 8 and 13, although some are as young as 6. While Sibshops may be therapeutic, they’re not therapy: “We are unapologetically playful,” Holl said.

    It can also be profoundly nourishing for siblings to have short intervals of one-on-one time with their parents. “Leave room to talk about anything or nothing,” Holl said, including the child’s questions about her sibling or her own concerns. Keep the communication style open and use active listening so children feel heard. Let the moment be casual and unplanned. A car ride to soccer practice is long enough for meaningful together time; my mother set aside a few minutes at bedtime for a back rub and chitchat.

    This unscheduled time allowed me to express feelings that were hard for my mom to hear, but that actually signified and helped cement healthy emotional connections. And it provided a starting point for problem-solving. My mother remembers a school psychologist telling her she was lucky when she heard I was grumbling that David got more attention than me. Complaining was far better than keeping my feelings bottled up.

    And those grumbles opened the door to a path forward. “I remember that it hurt me,” said my mom. But “I wanted to do something about it.”

    I never really developed a close bond with David, and in some ways his existence felt like an intrusion into my young life. But my mom showed me what it meant to care for him. Today I’ve made a life that allows me to be there for him, and I’m prepared to make my own sacrifices for his well-being. If not for him, then for her.

    Keren Landman is a physician, journalist and special-needs sibling based in Atlanta.

    How to tolerate an annoying brotherby Shane L. Windmeyer & Pamela W. Freeman

    Most fraternity and sorority nondiscrimination policies and educational efforts neglect to discuss or mention sexual orientation. As a result, many fraternity brothers and sorority sisters more than likely have never knowingly encountered someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual and/or may not know what to do when they learn a brother/sister is gay.

    Such lack of knowledge and preparation perpetuates the ignorance and fear surrounding homosexuality and jeopardizes brotherhood/sisterhood for both gay and straight fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. This list provides some suggested ideas to keep in mind when a fraternity brother or sorority sister learns that another brother/sister is gay, some recommendations on what you need to do when you learn that a Brother/Sister is Gay.

    A fraternity brother/sorority sister “comes out” to you…

    What to do:

    • Listen to what your brother/sister has to say and try to keep an open mind.
    • Understand the personal risk he/she took in telling you and if you are confused, be honest about your feelings. Realize the trust he/she has in you.
    • Realize your brother/sister has not changed. You may be shocked, but remember that he/she is still the same person he/she was before he/she came out to you.
    • Respect his/her choice to tell you by letting him/her know you will not tell anyone he/she is gay. You realize he/she has to come out to the fraternity/sorority chapter when he/she is ready.
    • Do not shy away from your brother/sister. Feel free to ask questions in an open manner to better understand him/her, such as:
      • How long have you known that you were gay?
      • Do other brothers/sisters or friends know that you are gay?
      • Has it been hard for you to carry around this secret?
      • How can I support you?
    • “Actions speak louder than words” so offer your support and willingness to help him/her through his/her coming-out process. He/She may really need a brother/sister to count on right now.
    • Communicate support to your brother/sister. He/She may feel isolated, like he/she is the only one in this situation.
    • Know what you are talking about by using resources on the college campus. Try to educate yourself and, if comfortable, be an ally on the issue.
    • Most importantly, remember the meaning of brotherhood/sisterhood and be a good brother/sister.

    A fraternity brother/sorority sister is “outed” to the chapter…

    What to do:

    • Approach the brother/sister in private (if possible) and let him/her know you are willing to listen and be a brother/sister.
    • Calm the brother/sister if he/she is upset by the outing and allow him/her to take the lead or speak about his/her feelings.
    • Stand up for your brother/sister as you would for any other brother/sister.
    • Attempt to resolve any conflict among other brothers/sisters who may not understand by asking them to give the brother/sister some time to process his/her feelings.
    • Seek expertise from campus officials or national headquarters if you are concerned about the chapter’s response and need assistance processing the experience.
    • Let the brother/sister know clearly that you value him/her as a brother/sister and as a person, no matter what.

    A fraternity brother/sorority sister is suspected or perceived to be gay…

    What to do:

    • Try not to assume anything about your brother’s/sister’s sexual orientation.
    • Remember that your brother/sister may be gay, but he/she may not be ready to acknowledge this to himself/herself or others. He/she needs to come out when he/she is ready.
    • Be supportive of your brother/sister, possibly bring up gay topics to communicate that you would be a person with whom he/she can talk.
    • Understand that your brother/sister may not be gay.

    Your brother/sister is gay…

    Your Brother/Sister may need support to deal with shameful feelings that someone in the family is gay. They will also need assistance in denouncing and bullying their peers when others find out that they have a gay or lesbian sibling. As a sibling, here’s a list of what NOT to do when you already know you have a gay brother/sister:

    What not to do:

    • Do not think it is just a phase and you can help your brother/sister find the “right” woman/man.
    • Do not be afraid to ask questions about being gay and/or about his/her coming out process.
    • Do not assume that your fraternity brother/sorority sister finds you attractive.
    • Do not try to change your brother/sister. Accept her as being gay.
    • Do not ignore your brother/sister or treat him/her differently after he/she has come out. Still invite him/her to go along with you wherever you go and, most importantly, do not change who you are.
    • Do not be ashamed or fail to defend a brother/sister who is gay if, otherwise, he/she is a good sister.
    • Do not be afraid to use the word gay/lesbian or bisexual, and do not ignore him/her when he/she brings up gay topics.
    • Do not try to restrict the brother’s/sister’s freedom to share being gay and/or to be a public role model. The Greek system and the campus at-large need more out student leaders to identify with….Do not be surprised if more Greeks start to come out of the closet.
    • Do not be worried about what other chapters think or the reputation of the chapter. Lead by example, and remember that there are gay men/women in every house. Some are simply less fortunate and do not have an “open-minded” environment for brothers/sisters to come out.
    • Do not assume that all his/her guests are his/her dates, and do not make a big deal if he/she brings a date to the house or a fraternity/sorority function. Treat him/her with respect, as you would any other person.
    • Do not kick your brother/sister out of the fraternity/sorority for being gay. Such an action may be in violation of university policy and definitely contradicts the ideals of brotherhood/sisterhood.
    • Do not be afraid to approach a gay brother/sister if you think his/her actions are inappropriate. Hold a gay brother/sister to the same standards as all brothers/sisters.
    • Do not treat the brother/sister as if he/she is a public relations disaster for the chapter. Support your brother’s/sister’s openness, and work together to communicate similar messages. He/She will always speak as a member of the fraternity/sorority. Trust that your brother/sister is going to represent your fraternity/sorority proudly wherever he/she goes, as always.
    • Do not feel let down if the brother/sister decides to leave the house due to other members’ actions or behavior. Be supportive and continue to be his/her friend.

    Revised from Out on Fraternity Row: Personal Accounts of Being Gay in a College Fraternity, edited by Shane L. Windmeyer and Pamela W. Freeman, Alyson Publications, 1998.

    Shane L. Windmeyer and Pamela W. Freeman, Lambda 10 Project, All Rights Reserved.

    Who are the Bigs in the program?

    Our Bigs come from diverse backgrounds just like our Littles. They are regular people, just like you. You don’t need any special degrees or job skills. You just have to want to positively impact a young person. Role models come in all shapes and sizes, and you could be a perfect fit.

    When can I see my Little?

    As a Big/Little team, you decide together what you want to do and then your Little gets approval from his or her parent. We recommend that you keep a consistent schedule of outings and get together on a regular basis. Your local agency will provide more guidance on this. The outings will also depend on the comfort level of your Little’s parents, your Little, and you.

    How much money should I spend?

    The quality of the time you invest with your Little is more important than the amount of money you spend. That’s why we don’t encourage spending a lot of money on your outings. The goal of the relationship is to help your Little see the world through a different lens so you can inspire your Little to become something they never thought possible. If you are going to spend money, we encourage you to seek out low-cost activities, especially in the beginning. Play a game together, or share that pizza that you were going to have for lunch anyway. Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies offer donor-supported group activities that are a great way to meet other Bigs and Littles. As a Big, you may also receive notices for free tickets to cultural and sports activities for you both to enjoy.

    What are some good ideas for outings with my Little?

    Share an activity that gives you something in common to talk about. Go to the library, check out a book and read together. Buy a comic book to read together. Play a board game. Go on a nature walk. Hit a bucket of golf balls at the local driving range. Take a ride in the car with the radio on and talk about the music you like. You want to select activities that give each of you a chance to learn more about one another. For children, playing can be learning. Most important: keep it simple and enjoy yourselves!

    Can I bring my spouse, a friend, or a family member on outings?

    In the beginning it’s most important for you and your Little to get to know each other. This can happen best on a one-to-one basis. However, over time it’s also valuable for your Little to get to know the people who are important to you. Just keep in mind that if you’re spending lots of time with others, your Little may begin to feel jealous or neglected. The main focus is the friendship you develop with your Little.

    What kind of support can I expect from Big Brothers Big Sisters once I get matched?

    Once you are matched with your Little, a Match Support Specialist from the agency will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Any time you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation, you will have a Match Support Specialist there to help. They’ll help you with ideas for activities, guidance for handling possible difficult situations, and feedback on how you are making a difference.

    Will I become a replacement parent?

    No, Littles have a parent or guardian in their life already. What they need is a Big to spend quality, one-on-one time with them. Someone to have fun with, someone they can confide in, someone like you!

    Is my volunteering tax deductible?

    Big Brothers Big Sisters is pleased to inform you that Bigs are entitled to the following tax deductions.

    • Bigs may deduct $.14 per mile incurred while picking up and transporting their Little around.
    • Bigs may also deduct the cost of meals, movie tickets, museum admissions, etc. spent on their Little. Bigs cannot, however, deduct the costs associated with their own meals, tickets, etc.

    Bigs must maintain adequate records to support their deduction and are encouraged to contact their tax advisor should they have questions.

    While Big Brothers Big Sisters encourages quality time rather than money spent on Littles, we trust that the above information will prove useful.

    Share this:

    QI’m a 25-year-old male. After a tragic set of circumstances, I am now the legal guardian of my 15-year-old brother. He’s gay. Fortunately, our parents took care of “the talk” and taught him how to use condoms. Unfortunately, he has started dating a senior at his school who is about to turn 18 and is a fucking sleazeball. You know the type: entitled, narcissistic LA type, drives a BMW paid for by his rich parents. This asshole has no respect for my brother. He grabs my brother’s ass or says disgusting things like “You really look fuckable in those jeans.” I told him to stop that behavior, and he just replied, “Sorry, I can’t keep my hands off such a hottie.” A keeper for sure, right?

    My parents would probably know what to do, but they’re dead. I don’t think my brother’s mature enough to be in a sexual relationship, but I’m fairly sure he is already sexually active. I laid down the law and told him that he couldn’t see his boyfriend anymore, but he has continued to see him behind my back and now doesn’t tell me anything that is going on with his life. I don’t know what he’s doing with a guy like that. My brother is smart, plays lots of sports, and is really involved at school. I’m afraid this loser is going to destroy all that.

    I’m new to all of this parenting stuff, but I know that he can’t continue to see this person. I know that my issue isn’t what you usually deal with, but as a parent yourself, what would you do? —New Parent Needs Help

    AI’m so sorry about the tragedy that befell your family, NPNH, and the loss of both your parents. You deserve nothing but praise for taking your brother in and taking him on.

    You don’t need to round your brother’s boyfriend up to 18—you don’t need to round him up to “statutory rapist”—to make him sound like an asshole. He sounds like a big enough asshole at age 17. And there’s nothing inappropriate about a 17-year-old kid dating a 15-year-old kid, NPNH. You may be tempted to alert the authorities after your brother’s asshole boyfriend (BAB) turns 18, but BAB is protected by your state’s age-of-consent laws, which treat sex between a minor and an adult differently if the adult is within three years of the minor’s age, which this asshole is.

    It’s also entirely appropriate for a 17-year-old gay boy to grab his 15-year-old boyfriend’s ass. And it’s entirely appropriate for a 17-year-old to tell his 15-year-old boyfriend that he looks fuckable in his jeans. But it is insanely inappropriate for a 17-year-old kid to do and say those things in front of his 15-year-old boyfriend’s parent or legal guardian. Still, NPNH, instead of forbidding your brother from dating this asshole or refusing to let BAB visit your house, speak up when BAB behaves like an asshole in front of you. (“Now is not the time, guys.” “Knock that shit off, please.” “I don’t want to hear about my brother’s sex life any more than he wants to hear about my sex life.”)

    If the asshole doesn’t listen—if BAB keeps grabbing your brother’s ass—ask him to leave. It’s your house, and you make the rules. But you should resist the urge to make unenforceable rules like “You may not see this guy,” as that will only undermine your authority while driving them into each other’s arms. Worse yet, if your brother isn’t supposed to be seeing this guy at all, NPNH, he won’t feel comfortable turning to you for advice if BAB is pressuring him to do anything dangerous. Your brother needs to be able to talk about his relationship with you, and he can’t do that if he’s not supposed to be in that relationship.

    And take comfort: If BAB is as shallow and materialistic as your letter makes him sound, odds are good that he’ll tire of your brother soon enough and move on to the next hot piece of ass who’s impressed by his BMW. This is a problem that is likely to solve itself.

    QMy dad just died. He was a pedophile. A lot of stuff is coming up for both my brother and me now. There are many things he did that we know about, but some things happened when we were so young that we’re not sure about. My bro just said he’s had dreams throughout his life—many more of them lately—about a cock being in his mouth. He’s hetero and has been married for more than 20 years. He wonders if any other straight men have dreams like this or if it is some manifestation of the abuse. He is too afraid to ask any of his straight male friends. So I ask you: Do straight men ever have dreams of a cock in their mouth? Or is it odd? Gay? What?
    —The Brothers Grim

    A “I am very sorry for TBG’s loss, as complicated as it is,” said James Cantor, a psychologist, associate professor at the University of Toronto, and editor in chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. “The quick answer to his question: no. Although it is unusual, having dreams like that does not, by itself, mean a man is gay or otherwise into penises. (OK, technically, it’s ‘penes.’) Although there haven’t been any formal surveys, gay men usually dream (and fantasize while masturbating) about men in general: muscles and faces, celebrities and crushes, the range of their favorite sex acts, etc. I haven’t heard a gay man—friend or client—describe dreams restricted lifelong to just penis in mouth.”

    Cantor offers a caveat for other readers: “For a long time, many folks believed that such dreams were repressed memories trying to surface. But there was never any good evidence for it. In fact, a great deal of harm has been done by well-meaning ‘therapists’ who, instead of helping clients to recover lost memories, wound up creating false memories of abuse and destroying whole families.” So very clearly and for the record: “Having such dreams, by itself, does not mean a person was abused.”

    What is odd, however, is the long-standing, repetitive nature of your dreams.

    “Although dreams do not tell us anything specific (again, these are not memories in waiting or great symbolic themes), they can suggest that there is something on his mind,” said Dr. Cantor. “If life is going generally well, and this is just a harmless eccentricity, so be it. If, however, your brother is experiencing more general distress, then that distress—whether fallout from childhood abuse, from the death of your father, or from something else—could be targeted with a bona fide, licensed therapist. Complicated situations like yours almost always involve multiple strong and conflicting emotions. Because you say lots of stuff (other than these dreams) is coming up for you both, an objective outsider/listener can indeed be of great help in sorting it out.”

    QWhat do you say to a college-age brother who tells you more about his sex life than you want to hear? I love my bro, but I don’t need to know how much pussy he’s getting. I used to tell him about my “triumphs,” but we were in high school then, and I’ve matured since. He was a late bloomer, he’s kind of insecure, and I think he’s excited to be doing well socially and sexually. But I don’t want to hear about it anymore.
    —Brotherly Boundaries

    ASaid Cantor, “There are two kinds of guys in the world, bro. Guys who can’t stop talking about all the pussy they’re getting, and guys who’re actually getting all sorts of pussy.”


    Postdoctoral Researcher in Developmental Psychology, Cardiff University

    Disclosure statement

    This article is based on a study supported by a British Psychological Society grant (to the author), and a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) strategic research grant and the Concordia University Research Chair in Early Childhood Development and Education to a coauthor of the publication (Nina Howe).


    Cardiff University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.

    How to tolerate an annoying brother

    Two siblings are playing on the living room floor. The girl, aged six, looks at her brother, and smiling, sings: “A, B, C, D, E, F – R!” Her older brother, aged seven, grins and joins in with: “H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, PEE! Get it? Pee! Pee-pee!” Both fall about laughing.

    You may remember similar silly exchanges with your own brother or sister when you were growing up. Research has shown that sibling relationships play an important role in child development. It is one of the most enduring relationships and is characterised by closeness, cooperation, conflict and play. Now our research has taken us a step closer to finding out just how important sharing humour with a sibling may be.

    Humour is a universal part of the human experience. But although it has long been of interest to philosophers and psychologists, relatively few studies have explored the types of humour young children produce in their close relationships.

    From the research that has been done, we know that from a young age, children take delight in unexpected or surprising events. In infancy, they are amused by peekaboo and clowning around with their caregivers. As toddlers, children demonstrate an increasingly advanced and varied repertoire of humorous incongruities (a conflict between what is expected and an absurd reality). They misuse and mislabel objects, play with sound, push the rules, and playfully tease others. Beyond the preschool years, children begin to play with words in more complex ways. They make up and tell riddles and jokes (with punchlines of varying success).

    Researchers have proposed that the production of humour involves considerable cognitive and social skill. Telling a successful joke requires language skills and timing, the ability to understand the minds and emotions of others (or, having a theory of mind), being able to think in creative and fast-paced ways.

    But we don’t tell jokes and do funny things just to make people smile – the production of humour is thought to serve many important functions. Not only does it make us laugh, but it also promotes friendships, relieves tension, and helps us cope with stress and anxiety. So it is surprising that so little work has focused on humour within one of the most important childhood relationships, between siblings.

    Oh brother!

    Moments of comedy and absurdity are a part of day-to-day life for many families. In psychologist Judy Dunn’s observations of early sibling interactions, children particularly enjoyed humorous play with forbidden and disgusting themes (or “bathroom humour”). Just as the sibling relationship can be thought of as a training ground for crucial social skills such as negotiating and managing play and conflict, its permanency enables children to explore the boundaries of what each other may (and may not) find funny without jeopardising the relationship.

    In our recent observational study, published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, we identified different types of humour produced by a group of seven-year-olds as they played with their older or younger sibling. We found that spontaneous humour was very common in the children’s play with their siblings. It was often good-natured, repetitive and well-rehearsed, reflecting their shared experiences and sibling bonds.

    How to tolerate an annoying brother

    The siblings produced a wide variety of different types of humour. Children most often played with words (such as nonsense speech, riddles, and making up absurd stories) and sounds (chanting, over-exaggerated singing and silly voices). They also performed and described incongruities (deliberately making objects perform wrong actions), shared taboo themes (blowing raspberries and making rude noises), engaged in banter (light-hearted and playful teasing and rough and tumble), and clowned around (silly poses, body movements, and pulling faces) to make their siblings laugh.

    We also found that when the seven-year-olds with a younger sibling played together, as a pair they produced more humorous sound play (such as shouting in high-pitched voices: “Eww! I’ve been slimed!”) than the seven-year-olds with an older sibling. According to other researchers, as soon as children learn about new rules, they have fun exaggerating and distorting them. It is possible that the younger sibling pairs were enjoying playing around with newly learned rules and conventions about sound in conversation.

    Male sibling pairs produced more humour than female sibling pairs overall, performing more incongruities than mixed gender and female pairs (“I’ll let you in on a little secret. I have cheese in my pocket!”). Pairs of brothers used more taboo humour (“Fart? Does it fart?”) and clowned around – we saw a lot of silly dancing – more often than sister pairs too.

    By identifying these differences in humour between siblings, we are one step closer to understanding the role and function of shared humour in children’s closest relationships. That said, much more work is needed to discover exactly what humour production means for the development of social and cognitive skills, learning, and psychological well-being in childhood.

    I read a similar post to this tonight so it felt good to see other women are in the same position as me. I just feel like I need advice. I literally have no one to talk about this because, well, we all know how sick and wrong this is. Before I started to have ‘feelings’ for my brother-in-law he was just my obnoxious brother-in-law. The one with the crazy annoying girlfriend who wanted to wear a white dress to my wedding. My husband and I began dating two years before they did. We went to the same high school for a year and that’s when i was close to my brother in law. It was always fun and giggles, just us three. My husband has always been close and over protective of him. After we left high school he started dating this girl and since i didn’t see him as much we drifted apart.

    A year after our graduation my husband proposed and my brother in law was still dating this girl so i thought hey! I’m gunna get to know her and make her feel welcome into the family. That turned pretty ugly so soon. The closer i got to her i noticed her imitating my syle. It didnt bother me at first, i actually felt cool, hey she likes my style! But then her certain comments started tugging at me like oh you only did this because i did it or because i like it. And well that was soo not the case. I ignored it until the day she told she had bought her dress for my wedding. She sent me pictures and oh my god. It looked like a wedding dress.

    Naturally a bride-zilla would go off and say uhm hello no you dumb bitch its white wtf. But she got defensive said it was beige made a scene with the whole family and my bil hated me for almost 2 years. He wouldn’t say hi to me at family events he would ignore me and actually he was just so rude to me all the time. I kinda grew a huge annoyance with them. I couldn’t stand to look at them ever because as time kept going they just kept wanting to do everything my husband and i did and they loved to brag more about it on social media.

    After three years i was finally able to ignore them more easily and he actually had apologized in that time frame so hanging around them was alot easier. She no longer bothered me as much and still til this day doesnt bother me how much she tries to do everything like i do because believe me she does. I didnt hate my brother in law anymore and we got along the normal. Not too much like before but nothing at all compared to hate we kind of both felt. Just until recently we had a family trip.. its 4 brothers young enough for the four of them to hang out, ( my husband is the third of them so yes I’m talking about the younger brother) and the two older wives have became my bestest friends so this is why i cant tell them of all this agony i feel.

    Anyway, we went to vegas to celebrate my husband and the girlfriends bday. They land only two days apart. It was a three day trip and everything was fine, we drank we laughed we all seemed to get closer as a family. I didn’t realize how happy it had made me to be close to my brother in law again until our last day of the trip. We spontaneously decided to go to universal studios and it was so much fun! Until the very end. My husband and my other brother in laws were at customer service trying to get some annual passes something like that and the rest of the girls were tired. I wanted to go to the harry potter shop and look around so i left by myself while they waited.

    When i was on my way back my brother in law was walking towards me alone and i didnt think too much of it so i asked him if he was going to buy something. He said no, he said he only came to see me. And of course i wasnt taking it seriously i thought he was making fun of me but at the moment he gave me a look he had never given me before so i kinda couldnt speak and just stood there stupid and by the time i arranged what had just happened we were too close to everyone to hear so nothing happened after that. The whole ride home i couldn’t stop thinking about it. About why he said that he just wanted to see me. He had seen me all trip. I didn’t understand. I wanted to shake it off of my head and i was able to forget for the next few weeks. But after that i kept seeing him and the he looked at me just wasn’t the same anymore. Or maybe it was me feeling those things that made me think differently but i cant breathe when he looks at me that way and i always panic and look away.

    To make things worse, two weeks later we found out he had been having an affair with his girlfriends friend for seven months. And i forgot to mention they were already engaged in that seven month period. The girlfriend of course didn’t cancel the wedding and he was forgiven. You would’ve thought if the idea of him being my brother in law would’ve grossed me out, this would’ve just ended it all for me! But nope. Here i am still with these terrible feelings. We’ve never touched more than a quick hello hug and kiss on the cheek and i crave his warmth so much. He never said anything else but that comment at universal studios again to me and i still miss talking to him. Were never alone anywhere and i always make up possiblities to try and make it possible but it never happens or i chicken out. I wish i didn’t felt this way because i know that i could never forgive something like what he did. And my husband is so great. He is so close to his little brother too.

    But i just cant ever stop thinking if he feels the same way. Just to talk to him. To kiss him and tell him how i feel but i know that if i do ill wreck everything. Specially after what he did. I don’t even know for certain if he feels this way or if he doesn’t but its his gaze that keeps my hope alive but kills me slowly as well. Every song reminds me of him every love movie and i don’t know why. The more i know i cant have him makes me want him even more and it kills me knowing how wrong it is. I want to forget him but hes so close with my husband and the whole family is super close its extremely hard to not think about him. What more could i do?