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Copying siblings , Psychology says it's a thing.

(40 Posts)
Lavazza1st Wed 21-Oct-20 08:52:18

I found this article on a google search I did about siblings copying.
The reason I searched is that someone commented on the fact that I have 2 ES and I realised that one had copied the other in every detail from uni (I can't list the things they did because of privacy, but they made exactly the same life choices) to blaming parents for everything and trying to exploit and bully us, then estranging when they didn't get their way. Looking back, the resemblance is scary! They both seem to be influenced by their abusive father who they spent their formative years with, and don't take after my side of the family in personality. I hope and pray my youngest does not copy either of them.

My parents have always commented on how my siblings copy each other in everything- but I have never felt like I copy either of them. It's weird and probably doesn't apply to everyone. Do you have siblings that copy? Have you copied? Do your kids copy each other?

Smileless2012 Wed 21-Oct-20 10:47:41

Thanks for the link Lavazza I know it was something we feared, that DS would 'copy' his brother in his estrangement of us.

There was a time, about 2 years into our estrangement, when we thought he would. ES and his wife were clearly trying to turn him against us; thank God he was eventually able to see what they were doing.

My brother and I are like chalk and cheese so no 'copying' there. Looking back our boys did cope one another when they were much younger but grew out of it.

blaming parents for everything and trying to exploit and bully us, then estranging when they didn't get their way is an all too common experience for many EP's. Although acknowledging this doesn't eradicate the pain, it does enable EP's to free themselves of guilt and feelings of inadequacy.

Your sons have both become the victims of their abusive father; copying his abusive behaviour as well as each others.

I hope and pray that your youngest doesn't copy his brothers and/or become another of his father's victims tooflowers.

Lavazza1st Wed 21-Oct-20 10:55:49

I think most people grow out of copying their siblings, thankfully @Smileless2012 flowers Im so glad your youngest was strong enough not to be poisoned! As far as I'm aware, my ES have not poisoned each other. I think it is genes?

My youngest has no memory of his abusive father, no contact with his abusive siblings and shows no signs of following their patterns. I have taken ten years of abusive behaviour from ES2 and have never had any hint from the youngest, not even during teen years.

I think I have taken too much and not been able to put down strong enough boundaries. I am reading another article now, which I am putting the link to in the hopes it helps someone else

EllanVannin Wed 21-Oct-20 11:24:15

Nothing surprises me of what goes on today. It's a cloned society.

3nanny6 Wed 21-Oct-20 12:29:33

Lavazza :

I read the article and I do not think my AC resemble any of the statements they make.
My AC do not copy each others behaviour too often. For me I find my eldest AC can have positive influences on her siblings
although ultimately the younger two will follow their own paths when they are heading in the direction they want to go. (if that makes sense)
My AD (estranged when it suits her terms) has issues about blaming me for everything she sees wrong in her life and will take digs from all aspects of her childhood.
Over the years she has at times tried to get my son on side with her, he done his best to try to keep the peace on all sides although now he is estranged from her and full No Contact.
Eldest daughter has contact with both of them and stays out of any talk about taking sides the same as me really.

Davidhs Wed 21-Oct-20 12:46:21

Myself and brother are very similar and follow father, level headed and considerate, my sister is the opposite. My 3 daughters are quite close, they all seemed to follow the eldest.

janeainsworth Wed 21-Oct-20 14:04:48

Well Lavazza if you’d bothered to read to the end of the article, you’d have seen this: Unsurprising, the phenomenon was also seen in reverse and have a negative effect. For example, if a person watches their sibling get divorced, it makes them less likely to get married themselves

Typical Daily Mail non-science article!

Astral Wed 21-Oct-20 14:11:36

I'm not really sure what that article was saying, I expect when we look at people we spend a lot of time with we all want to copy things that go well for them and avoid things we see that cause people we care about pain. My children are all so different from each other. It makes parenting a bit complex at times allowing for their differences in personality, humour and opinions.

Smileless2012 Wed 21-Oct-20 14:40:32

Why assume Lavazza didn't bother to read the end of the article janeainsworth? Lavazza in her OP didn't comment as to her opinion of the article, just that she found it when googling siblings copying.

janeainsworth Wed 21-Oct-20 15:21:07

Smileless the title of the thread is ‘Copying siblings , Psychology says it's a thing‘. The OP then went on to describe how the thread title reflected her own experiences.
That’s actually a misleading view of the article, which says that while sometimes siblings make the same life choices, sometimes the very opposite happens.
That led me to think that Lavazza was either deliberately presenting only one side of what the article actually said, to suit her own purposes, or, that she hadn’t read the whole article.

Smileless2012 Wed 21-Oct-20 15:22:21

I've seen examples of 'Down The Rabbit Hole' articles before Lavazza and as you can see from this list on the right hand side of the link you provided, the main premise is to disparage the sites that EP's go to for support and advice.

There's a constant invalidation of what EP's share about their estrangement stories and when I see things of this nature I always ask myself why it's necessary to criticise EP's and the groups they seek out.

When there's absolutely nothing positive or supportive to be said about groups for EP's, to me it's obvious where the bias lies.

agnurse Wed 21-Oct-20 15:48:04


The author of Down the Rabbit Hole points out some specific issues that commonly occur in EPs' stories. That includes specific examples. I hardly consider that "invalidating".

Smileless2012 Wed 21-Oct-20 18:30:51

Well as you'll have gathered from my post agnurse I disagree.

Disparaging the reasons that EP's give for their estrangements is invalidating. Referring to them as "soft reasons" for example. There's nothing "soft" about an estrangement that has come about due to the relationship an AC becomes involved with with their partner/husband/wife.

It happens so the "specific examples" you refer too are what some EP's have been unfortunate to experience.

Lolo81 Wed 21-Oct-20 18:45:06

I followed the link given on the Daily Mail to the actual study, which seems to be a meta analysis over a long period of time. I’m unsure as to the reliability of the actual site as I’ve never used it before, what I did notice though was that the scope of the study was rather simplistic and looking for correlations between siblings without actually considering many other factors which would impact, such as class, parents marital statuses or the changes in modern society with divorce becoming more socially acceptable amongst many others.
Additionally, the sample size was relatively small.
The similarities in sibling decision making is interesting though, and opens up the old question of how much nurture vs nature affects an adult.

Chewbacca Wed 21-Oct-20 20:29:04

The nature vs nurture conundrum is an interesting one; especially where all of the children in a family are brought up in the same way, with the same moral values and ethics; but 1 child is more "troubled" than their siblings. I lived next door to a lovely family who had 2 daughters and 1 son. The daughters grew up with few, if any problems and became responsible young women who worked hard in their chosen careers. The son was "difficult" from a very early age and by the time he was 12 years old, was already involved in gangs and low level criminality and drugs. He had a tempestuous teenage and early adulthood; frequently in prison and was often violent and abusive to his parents and sisters. They lived in fear of him. But he seemed to suddenly turn his life around in his 30s, got married and is holding down a decent job; he's become a model son, husband and father. So he didn't copy any of the traits of his siblings, nor they his. Nature or nurture?

janeainsworth Wed 21-Oct-20 21:03:37

Chewbacca Perhaps it depends on the nurturing style.
If the nurturing style is to allow children to express themselves and to ‘be’ themselves, their individual traits will be more apparent and differences between siblings more obvious, than if the parents exercise more control & try to mould their children towards their own expectations?

Chewbacca Wed 21-Oct-20 21:10:09

Very possibly janeainsworth and it's difficult to actually know what goes on in someone else's home; favouritism of one child over another, praising one child's achievements more than the other; all play a part in family dynamics and the outcome. I've often wondered whether the young man I referred to, parents his own children in a different way than he was raised, or a similar way.

freedomfromthepast Wed 21-Oct-20 21:11:40


When I finally made the difficult decision to estrange from my mother, she blamed me for also alienating my sister. She feels that I led my sister down the same path. However the reality was that my sister had long ago decided to limit contact with her and I spent many years telling my sister that she is her mother, she is who she is and pushing her back to a relationship. When I estranged the only thing I did is stop pushing my sister to our mother. Naturally, their relationship fluttered out. Of course she thinks I am behind it. But that is the furthest thing from the truth.

My sister wouldn't copy me because I am an adventurer and she would rather not be drug along on some of them. We are also very much our own people and I would hate to be looked at as an extension of my sister by anyone. Nor her me.

I have a hard time with the concept of either/or nature/nurture. They BOTH have a role.

In the example of the 3 children, 2 girls and one boy, my first thought was I wonder if the boy had untreated ADHD? It is well known that more boys have ADHD than in girls and when girls do have ADHD they present differently.

In previous generations ADHD diagnosis were rarely diagnosed and we now know that untreated ADHD can lead to self medicating. I assume if he was involved in gangs then there were drugs involved, though I make that assumption with no knowledge of gangs in the UK.

It is also common here in the US that 30, 40 and 50 something adults are just now being diagnosed with ADHD because the knowledge of it is so much better. Having that treatment could explain an abrupt change in his 30s.

That may or may not be the case, and there could be tons of other explanations for it. But since I do not know these people I could never say.

My opinion on all cases is that each child is their own person and need differing variations of "nurture" because each persons "nature" is different. Comparing children from the same parents isn't a good strategy, IMO.

I also wonder how many children are, in fact, raised the exact same way. Raising boys and raising girls are different, because they have different needs. If you apply raising girls to raising a boy, you may have problems. I am unable to even raise my 2 girls the exact same way. They are different people with different temperaments and personalities. My oldest is rather easily parented, my youngest not so much. So they get different nurture.

agnurse Wed 21-Oct-20 21:16:36


From what I understand it's not uncommon for parents to recognize that they may have ADHD when their children are being evaluated for it. The parent is going through the inventory to see what signs and symptoms their child has, and they're going, "I do this, and I do this, and I do that too - do you think I might have this thing?"

Astral Wed 21-Oct-20 21:20:46

I think this is very interesting, not that I want to put parents in boxes but I wonder if sometimes boys and girls get parented differently in some families?

freedomfromthepast Wed 21-Oct-20 21:30:14

agnurse, that is exactly what happened with me. When I was a kid and struggled in school, I was labeled a bad child who didn't work hard enough. But I was doing everything I could because I wanted my parents to love me. I was often compared to my sister who had decent grades and often heard "why cant you be more like your sister?"

I suspected I had ADHD in a joking way in my 20's, because I had symptoms. Once I got my kids diagnosed it all became clear. I also learned a lot about ADHD, Anxiety and OCD, which often present together.

I wonder if my parents had knowledge like we did today, would my nurture had been differently? Unfortunately I believe likely not because my mother also had mental health issues and couldn't be bothered with most things regarding her children. But having that diagnosis DID change how I parent my children.

Astral - 100% yes, I believe they do. Children in one family may be presented the same opportunities, roof over their head, schooling, but when it comes right down to personal hands on, it is more likely to be a difference.

Astral Wed 21-Oct-20 22:00:00

I'm sorry you went through all that freedomfromthepast, my upbringing wasn't good either and I know things were different in the past but I spent enough time at friends houses to see the difference in parenting others had compared to mine.

Chewbacca Wed 21-Oct-20 22:09:15

In the example of the 3 children, 2 girls and one boy, my first thought was I wonder if the boy had untreated ADHD

You raise an interesting point freedom. The boy was definitely heavily involved in drugs, both using and selling and that would have obviously had some effect on his behaviour and mental health. But his behavioural problems began a long time before that started and so it's quite possible that any ADHD signs weren't picked up as early as they could/should have been, as you suggest. This was in the late 1970s though and I'm not sure whether much, if anything, was known or understood about that then? You're quite right though; the turn around in his 30s was very sudden and was almost like a transformation.

Smileless2012 Wed 21-Oct-20 22:51:08

That's a good point Astral about boys and girls possibly being raised differently in the same home due to gender. It also raises the issue of children from the same family, with different personalities, being raised in the same way possibly not allowing one to be able to 'be' which is what janeainsworth pointed out earlier

There have over the years been some questionable studies of twins and triplets separated at birth. I'm thinking of an extensive study done in America where babies given up by their mothers at birth, were deliberately given to separate adoptive parents and were then 'studied' at regular intervals so sibling comparisons could be made.

It came out into the open when a young man went to uni and on the first day, by several students, was mistaken for someone else. His brother who was unknown to him was contacted by a friend, went to the uni to see for himself and they discovered they'd been separated by the adoption process.

It was jumped on by the media which resulted in a third brother coming forward; they were triplets. There's was just one of many cases of twins and triplets being deliberately separated during the adoption process in the name of 'science'.

As well as the stark physical similarities and mannerisims were their personality traits, taste in music, fashion and hobbies.

The documentation that relates to this study, which wont be unavailable for public scrutiny for several years even to the 'participants', was to discern what has the most influence, nature or nurture.

Until I watched the documentary on this study, I always believed it was 50/50. Having seen it and read other more ethically carried out studies, where it hadn't been possible to keep the siblings together for adoption, I'm now of the opinion that even if it's 52/48, nature seems to have the greater input.

Chewbacca Wed 21-Oct-20 23:00:47

That's really interesting Smileless I hadn't heard of that "experiment" before. Callous thing to do in the name of research but interesting to know about.