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Sibling Rivalry

Prepared by: Geraldine Schroeder, 1999

PlanningTheme: Sibling rivalry. Why does it exist? Can it be controlled?
How can we pass on the faith in the midst of sibling rivalry?

Target Audience:  Parents of children ages 4–12 years. (Within that group may be adults who continue to have trouble with siblings)


  • To gain an understanding that sibling rivalry is a normal part of family life.
  • To give parents the opportunity to share their experience of the problem.
  • To discover that God is present and continues to work in and through us in these situations.

Time required: at least 60 minutes (depends on choice of experience used)

Materials or Resources (required or *recommended)

  • *Video (or video clip) of Lion King
  • *Video tape of a TV sitcom
  • *Story e.g. "The Last Straw" by Paula McDonald, Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
  • Bibles
  • Books on child–rearing (see Bibliography)
  • "Quotations and Bibliography"
  • LBW, hymn *551 or *357

Welcome, Introductions and Greetings:  (as appropriate for the group)


Choose one of the following activities:

  • View a movie or part of a movie that highlights the relationship between siblings. e.g. Lion King (focus on the relationship of Scar and Muffasa
  • View a TV sitcom that involves sibling rivalry
  • Listen to a story that focuses on sibling rivalry e.g. "The Last Straw"


Discuss, referring to the video or story :

  1. What was the effect of sibling rivalry on emotional life, mental health, spiritual well being, and life choices?
  2. Is it possible for parents to effectively pass on the faith in the midst of constant squabbling and ill will towards one another?


The leader shares a personal story of a sibling relationship. Then, in small groups, all share early and present relationship with a sibling; stories of one's children now.

G–Generalize (use Quotations and Bibliography)

Explore the advice of child–rearing experts.
Compare historical views of children with present day attitudes towards children. Does this impact on the presence of sibling rivalry?


Refer to stories in Scripture that feature sibling rivalry and that show God continuing to act among his people even in the midst of this problem.

Genesis 37–45 (Joseph and his brothers) God desires forgiveness in the family.
Genesis 27 (Jacob and Esau) God is displeased with Jacob's actions, but gives love and forgiveness, choosing Jacob as father of a nation.
Mark 10:35–43 James and John desire important positions in the kingdom. Jesus loves them

The Gospel message is that God gives God's grace to us and expects us to forgive others.

Affirmation – Share the good side of being siblings – community, support, loyalty, sharing, love, acceptance, caring, protecting, etc.

Sing – Lutheran Book of Worship, #551 (verse 3), or #357

Pray – Loving God, we thank you for the gift of family – the families we belong to by birth, those we establish through relationships, and especially God's family of which we become a part through baptism. We confess that we have at times treated one another with lack of respect, jealousy and scorn. We beg your forgiveness.

Help us to celebrate the uniqueness of each person – to rejoice in the talents and successes of one another and to support each other in our frustrations and weaknesses.

Let us always be ready to forgive and relate to others with love even as you love, forgive and support each of us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Permission is granted to reproduce this module for use in ELCIC congregations. Any other use requires copyright permission. Please contact bfast@elcic.ca.

In full communion with The Anglican Church of Canada
© Copyright 2007 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada