Sibling rivalry and the “SuperBro-wl”

Jan 30, 2013

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals

Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers gets a laugh from Field Judge Jim Quirk during an NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. Credit: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

You’re born, and your life is great. Then, you get a little brother or sister and everything changes. Suddenly, time with the family is ripped between the two siblings. Toys must be shared. The television must be split between two pairs of eyeballs. Then you grow up and go to school. You have to live in your older brother’s shadow, or worry about your younger counterpart tattling on you for doing something out of line. Everyone goes through the traditional sibling rivalry, and by the time you become an adult and start pursuing your own life, the conflict typically falls by the wayside.

But not for John and Jim Harbaugh. Who cares about some adult brothers who are still going at it? Well, John and Jim are the coaches of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively. And it just so happens that those two teams are competing in this year’s Super Bowl. Winning this ultimate game would be the absolute pinnacle for any former athlete and professional coach. One of the brothers will win, and the other will lose, thus fueling an already likely sibling rivalry that will continue to go forward.

Fortunately, most siblings don’t have to play out their competition on national TV. But that doesn’t mean the conflict isn’t there. Have you ever been in a situation like this? Did you square off against your sibling in a business setting? Did you go into similar career fields and compete for the same jobs? What about academically? And twins face even more pressure. Have you and your sibling felt it? Call in and let us know. (And tell them to call in, too!)


Dr. Jeanne Safer, Ph.D., psychotherapist and author of  “Cain’s Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy and Regret” (Basic Books, 2012) and “The Normal One: Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling” (Delta, 2003)

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