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By Judith Woods for MailOnline. Updated: GMT, 3 July While competition between siblings may be mostly harmless during childhood, it can bring out the absolute worst in us if it develops into envy in later life, as Judith Woods reports. Sibling rivalry. What could be more natural, more healthy? The very phrase conjures up nostalgic images of ruddy-cheeked boys, straining to beat each other at tree climbing or Ludo. Or little girls, eyes shining with eagerness to outsmart one another in the classroom, guilelessly striving to please their parents at home.

But spool forward 25 years and very often that competitiveness has crystalised into an emotion that is much less healthy and much more shameful — sibling envy. And no matter how much we love our brother or sister deep down, when sibling envy takes hold, it has a corrosive effect on our ability to express affection. Overt rivalry in childhood is upfront, dynamic and character-building, a necessary rite of passage that enables each child to find their niche within the family.

But sibling envy in adulthood is a stagnant, secretive emotion that finds its insidious expression in anger and Schadenfreude. Zoe, 38, admits that she can barely look her elder sister in the eye sometimes, such is the depth of the resentment she feels. Without meaning to, she makes me feel like a failure — and she always has.

I was in my 30s with children of my own before I was able to talk about my feelings and confront both my sister and my mother. That you can choose your friends but not your family can be an extremely painful truism. If you feel inadequate in the presence of an ultra-successful friend, you can always withdraw or even cut them out of your life completely. But family occasions — births, deaths, marriages, anniversaries, Christmases — will necessarily draw you into the fold and back into the familiar patterns of behaviour. According to Professor Kevin Browne, a forensic psychologist at the University of Nottingham, when siblings are young they compete for parental attention and affection, but the glittering prize changes with age.

I had to leave work, drive 2 hours, get her and my father into assisted living. My father hated it so went home. My brothers hired sitters for my father during the day and one of us stays every night one never stays. They are local and since I live away, I take weekends. I get off work Friday, drive 2 hours, take care of my father, leave Sunday evening, drive 2 hours home, and then go to work Monday.

I work 7 days a week for nearly 3 years. My brothers cover for me so I have a weekend off every 3 months. I take my father to see my mother every Sat and Sun when I'm there. My mother won't speak to me and blames us for taking our father home. She tells relatives that I never visit. She acts like she can't hear me but can hear everyone else until she gets angry. The staff at the facility are complaining about her. She is healthy and mentally sharp.

I realize that caring for my father became too much for her but she won't accept outside help. My brothers will not visit her anymore since she is so hateful to them. Luckily she is kind to the grandchildren and great grand children. I can't sleep, cry often and suffer from depression. I am missing my own family and friends.

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I feel very guilty because I want it to be over and don't want to ever she her again I have told my husband that if I die before my mother, I don't want her at my funeral. I am a 58 year gay man and has been with my husband for 30 years. He is amazing and is supportive of what I'm going through. Ravin1 Aug 27, I was so grateful too find this thread.

I don't choose to go into my parent problems and feelings, just to say I am lucky, I do love them, unlike some of my siblings. But I went through years of counseling. I do want to put my feelings down however.

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We as humans have to care as best as can for ourselves. When I feel guilty and because of that feeling choose to help someone or do something I am sure I put off a feeling of anger. Sometimes my anger comes from "why should I" sometimes it comes from "Well no one else is going to help". Then what I think is the best, "I just don't want to! Sometimes going to work. But we do them anyway, and at times helping our parents will be one of those things.

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And I think I can truthfully say even if we love them or not. Unless our children want to help, I don't feel they should have to.

Their time of choice will come soon enough with us. Unless it is not legal and or we will be doing harm we have choices. Talking to a mean mother on the phone, "Sorry mom, I have to go now. Take turns with siblings, if you don't want a turn, offer one of your siblings something to take your turn. And I don't mean something like "I will pay your way there. If you wouldn't like it, why would you think they would. There is also the other side of the coin to, your mother may be kinder to you than one of your other siblings and you don't mind.

As for feelings of guilt, anger, selfishness, ect. I feel, and you may to. NO ONE can change those feelings but us. I really had to think about this with myself.

When I told my friend I felt guilty for not going to be with my mother on a Sunday, she ask point blank, "What do you think anyone can do about how you feel? Caring is a hard job no matter who or what it may be we care for, parents, childern, pets, ect. I am at this point in my life trying to help care for my parents, a elderly uncle and aunt, we a elderly ill friend.

I'm 63 and I promise I am not saying any of these things lightly. I am tired and depressed, sometimes more than other times.

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Coming here and seeing how others feel and deal helps me. I pray truly for all who are trying to care for someone else and themselves. May God bless you for your kindness. Pboedeker Aug 26, With my two other sisters in agreement, we found mom a great assisted living facility near my home. My sisters lived out of state. Mom lived there for a few months happily and regained much of her strength and health with daily nutritious meals, regular accurate dosing of meds, physical therapy and lotsa of social engagements.

What to Say to Someone Who’s Sick: This Life - The New York Times

No amount of talking could convince her otherwise. While I was hospitalized for a knee surgery she called and told me she was moving herself back home. That was 4 hours away to a home that had no phone service or other communications system in place. She hung up on me. I alerted my other sisters to the concern.

They literally intervened and canceled the movers.

MY MOM IS A LIAR! (Animation)

The next day mom called me still in hospital recovering from the 4th knee surgery in 6 months I was floored. After being the caretaker of their home when they became too old to maintain it. That was 18 months ago and she did in fact move herself back home. I feel nothing towards her now. My grown children do not want to be around her as they have had very nasty phone calls from Mom.

Froglady04 Aug 26, I feel the same way about my mother and it upsets me to be around her!!! MsNKC1 Aug 20, The term mother doesn't mean loving person. I'm so sorry you are dealing with her. Mveltri67 Aug 20, I care for my 90 year old father.