I've been mulling this over in my mind for a while, about how siblings have such different personalities often. And then I read this article. http://www.brainchildmag.com/essays/winter2012_ozment.asp
I have one sister, two years younger then me. Saying that we hated each together growing up is putting it politely. We had very physical fights until i moved out at age 15. We never did grow closer. She has lived me with over the years when she has gotten into a jam, we talk once in a while, hang out every couple months, more because we feel like we have to because we are siblings not because we enjoy each other's company. I love her because she is my sister but I don't like her, never have, probably never will.
I've got 4 children, 2 girls almost 4 years apart and 2 boys 2 years apart. My girls remind me so much of my sister and I. My second daughter is a carbon copy of my sister, isn't that ironic. I feel for DD1 often because I remember just how sneaky my own sister was, and there she is, living in my house, even smiling that same little grin my sister did. They fight so much that we normally do not all hang out together as a family. We rarely get whole family days but when we do, it is very common to spilt the girls up, DH and I each take one with 1 boy and go off and do different things. Or I invite a friend for one girl to come along which shifts that girl's focus from "what can I do to pester my sister all day" to actually leaving her alone. I'm torn between thinking that if they have enough time apart to develop their different personalities and interests then maybe when they are together, they will enjoy each other more or thinking that that it doesn't really matter what we do. Who knows!
Of course since every kid is different, they all get treated differently. It just isn't possible to treat them all the same. I do find myself being harder on DD2 because she so consciously acts up. DD1 is very much a rule follower and I don't have to worry about that but she has her own demons that will follow her throughout life which is other problem that plays into the sibling relationships. She would of been an excellent only child.
Do you find that your kids seek out different roles within the family? I've read the rivalry books, I'm not looking for direct answers, more of a broad discussion on sibling relationships. So what are your kids like?
Since I have two girls as well, I'll chime in. My girls fight with each other and love each other very much. They have to sleep together but fight over which side of the bed they want to be on. The oldest is a giver the little one is a taker. And when she takes DD1 gets hurt. I think it will always be that way, no matter how many times I have to sit them down together or individually the youngest one will always try to take advantage of any situation and will always put herself first. My little one measures ice cream, shower time, clothes, toys, you name it she has to have more or better. The oldest one could care less as long as everyone has what they need and want.
My siblings and I have good relationships. My mom would always try to divide us but she failed miserably. Both my siblings have my heart. I would do anything for them. I think DD1 will be that way with DD2. I just hope DD2 will care as much for DD1.
I have one sibling, an older brother (2 1/2 years difference). We were never that close, and at this point? I doubt we would spend any time together if not for our parents. I love him because he's my brother, but I don't like him. The feeling is mutual, although I can't say I'm even sure he loves me because I'm his sister. LOL He's not fond of my son, either. For many reasons, but it doesn't help that he's much like me.
Now, my two are the same age spread and order, and they are very tight. He's her first phone call when something happens - good or bad. And if she's upset? He is her go-to. Always has been. And vice-versa. They're different as day and night in terms of personality, but compliment one another really well.
My kids do seek out different roles -- but it's unclear to me how much of it is gender based and how much of it is seeking a unique role in the family. They have somewhat divergent interests, and quite different personalities. The interests I could see seeking out a role, but the personalities? They've been wired that way from birth.
I think parents play some role -- why, for example, weren't your parents intervening when you and your sister were beating up on each other? Arguments among siblings are common. True fights need to be stopped. It's tricky knowing when to intervene and when not to. I do think that arguing with your siblings does teach you how to argue fairly in a 'safe space' (you know your siblings will be there). At the same time, how much is too much?
OP, do you think you're casting your children into the roles they have because your 2nd daughter reminds you of your sister? Could you view her behavior differently? For example could this be her way of getting attention from her older sister -- the one who's got the "good kid, oldest child" role locked up? My middle sister was sly, obnoxious, bossy and infuriating at times as a child. She needed to be. She was the youngest of the first 3 kids (3 kids in 4 1/2 years), and the one who had to stay home and babysit the younger two (my brother and me). She was screaming for attention and control. I also was bossy and needed control. We clashed constantly.
The one thing that the article doesn't really discuss is that relationships change over time. My niece and nephew bickered constantly as children. They have a really close relationship now that they're adults. Dh and his sister didn't have much of a relationship growing up. His sister was 4 years older, in different spheres and of a very different personality. They didn't really bond until they were adults. Now they have a good relationship, love to travel together and have found a lot of common interests.
I have a similar experience in my family -- there are 5 of us. The sibling I was closest to as a child is the sibling I'm least close to as an adult. As a child, the closeness was due to age. Now, I live 1500 miles away, and he's just not great at keeping up. I'm now closer to my middle siblings -- one because of geographical proximity and one because of personality. Ironically, the sister who's personality is the closest to mine is my middle sister. She and I have both changed a bit, and now that we're adults, the similarities in our personalities don't cause as much friction. We've got our own spheres to operate in.