Here you will be able to:
• Understand more about the concerns of siblings
• Find out about books that have been written by or for siblings
• Join SibTeen, a Facebook group for teens, co-hosted by the Sibling Support Project in the US and Siblings Australia
• Read what other sibs say below
Most importantly you will find that you are not alone. Other siblings share many of the feelings and experiences that you do. Some siblings have very close relationships with their brother or sister with disability or illness. They share fun times and are able to be just like any other siblings. But some siblings have a more difficult time.
The teen years present a number of challenges to young people. Sometimes things can seem even more difficult when your brother or sister has a disability or illness. Whilst you might love and care deeply about your brother or sister you might also have some of the following feelings:
• Sadness about your brother or sister and the things he or she can’t do
• Resentment that your parents spend so much time with or focussed on your brother or sister
• Anger and or embarrassment about how your brother or sister behaves
• Guilt about your own abilities and successes
• Fears about the future and who will care for your brother or sister
• Concerns about creating your own family
You may feel that your feelings don’t matter to anyone else, that you are not as important as others in the family. On the one hand, you might be trying to become more independent but at times that might seem difficult. You may have a close family, which of course is wonderful, but you might feel overly responsible for other family members and feel hesitant about independence.
This factsheet was developed for teen sibs of someone with mental illness but it can be useful for any sibs.
It would be good if you could share your stories with each other. Contact us if you would like to share your experience of being a sibling – the good and not so good things. We might post some of the letters on the website so let us know if you don’t want yours on the site (you can be anonymous if you like!).
Here are some thoughts from teen sibs – feel free to send us your own!
Being a sibling has its advantages and disadvantages like most things. When things get on top of me I have trouble working out the advantages. I have a brother who has Aspergers syndrome who is 12 years old. He is often violent, aggressive and always shouting and yelling. He is embarrassing to go out with and I often feel ashamed in front of people.
People who don’t know about his problem always stare at us in public, make rude gestures and talk about us behind our back. When I was in primary school, I always lost friends because of his behaviour. He always steals my stuff and goes into my things. On a rare occasion we get on and they are nice moments that I wish we had more often. I think that having a sibling website is a good idea. I think it would be a good chance for other siblings to talk to each other through chats. 14yrs
I am 18 years old with 2 Autistic Siblings. I left school with a year 12 certificate but without a UAI, and got a job in an office and moved out of home. I wanted to be a Physiotherapist. Studying and time management are difficult when you have an Autistic sibling. My 10 year old sister is severely autistic and she needs an eye on her every second of the day; she likes stripping to her nappy and running down the main road.
My 12 year old brother’s behavioural problems are incontrollable at times. When I was living at home, I spent as much time away as I could. I got a job at a fast food chain and took all the shifts I could, I would go to work an hour early just so that I could deep breath and have some peace and quiet before I started.
I don’t think anyone really understands how difficult it is for siblings. Even my extended family says to me “your poor Mum”, and I think what about me? But what’s worse is when people ask “what’s going to happen to your brother when he gets bigger, or if something happens to your parents?” I feel so guilty, but I know that unless he starts improving, he will have to be institutionalised. My brother is 12 years old and roughly 5’4″, he is heavier than me and has bigger feet (he went through a stage of stealing my shoes, but now he can’t get them on. They are size 8 women’s.)
I wish I could say that it gets easier when you get older. It doesn’t, but you can learn to deal with it. In regards to studying, don’t quit. It’s not the easy way out!! Make sure you have a quiet place you can go, even the library. A boyfriend’s or friend’s house is not the best option, you always get distracted. 18yrs
My little sister has cerebral palsy and she may never walk. I am only twelve years old and still am confused at what this is. The doctors don’t really know how she got this disability. My younger sister is beautiful with a strong heart but I feel so upset at times because she knows that she is different and wants to be like the other children. Every day she always comes up to me and my mother and says “I love you” or “are u proud of me.” I was at a stage where all I did was cry and was threatening to hurt myself.
When I found out the terrible news about her disability I didn’t know what to think because I always said to myself “nothing happens to my family”. Girls at school and people around me always ask me questions about my 5 year old sister. I know they only want to be nice but I hate it when they ask. We fight like normal sisters and I’m proud of that but then again there is nothing normal.
I do hurt inside but I have never shown that to anyone before. I have good and bad times but I always pull through and that is the help of my sister. If anyone has a sibling that has a disability you will feel horrible, sad and confused but as u grow you will feel a small spark inside of you and that spark will turn into a huge flame of fire and then you will realise that there is hope, love and never give up. 12yrs