Have you ever wondered what the effects of sibling rivalry are? This essay sample explores the sibling rivalry causes, its advantages and disadvantages, and parenting practices that might be helpful.
Sibling rivalry is a difficult topic that concerns all parents who have more than one child. According to Boyse, sibling rivalry manifests itself in the form of jealousy, competition, and fighting between brothers and sisters (par. 2). While there are many things parents do that can cause sibling rivalry, it is often seen as a natural process that affects every sibling relationship in one way or another, and therefore there is not enough research on the topic of sibling rivalry (Whiteman et al. 4). Sibling rivalry can also affect the relationship between siblings in adulthood (Woods par. 3), which is why it is important to understand its causes, manifestations, and effects, as well as the ways of mediating the competitive feelings among siblings.
Sibling Rivalry Causes
As Boyse notes, sibling rivalry is caused primarily by the relationship between parents and children: when a child feels ‘left out’, he or she begins to act to catch the parents’ attention: “Children may not know positive ways to get attention from or start playful activities with a brother or sister, so they pick fights instead” (par. 3). Many factors can make a child feel like he or she is loved or appreciated less than his or her brother or sister. Particularly, these situations can arise when parents experience high levels of stress at work and do not have a sufficient amount of emotional resources to distribute attention and care evenly between the kids. Families that are preparing to have another baby may find that the older child expresses the signs of stress and jealousy even before the younger child is born (Boyse par. 3).
This is often linked to the fact that having a new baby is a busy and difficult time when most of the parents’ efforts are directed at preparing for the newborn, which takes a significant share of their attention from the older child. Moreover, certain factors affect a child’s reaction to siblings. For instance, if a child is hungry, bored, or tired, he or she is more likely to grow frustrated and pick fights with other kids, including siblings (Boyse par. 3). Stress from school life can also cause aggression and increase the need for attention, resulting in siblings fighting (Boyse par. 3). Finally, a biological factor that proved to be significant in determining the relationships between siblings is birth order: “birth order is a great contributor to why children of the same family, with similar genes, end up with very different personalities […] the firstborn child experiences the ‘only child life’ and is center of attention until the second-born child arrives, which can cause anger and frustration” (Badger and Reddy 46). Thus, we can also say that it is common for sibling rivalry to be initiated by the older sibling rather than the younger one.
Effects of Sibling Rivalry
The effects of child rivalry can be both immediate and long-term. For example, having frequent fights with a sibling can be damaging for a child’s sense of self, his or her motivation in sports and academics, as well as for the family climate: Briscoe reveals, “the most desperate youngsters remain relentlessly hostile – and a nightmare to live with” (par. 7). As siblings grow older, the fights become more severe, sometimes leading to them developing mutual hate rather than a close and supportive relationship. Parents tend to experience stress seeing their children fight one another each day. Moreover, if sibling rivalry is not addressed properly by parents, it can develop into a problematic sibling relationship in adulthood. For example, it is common for siblings who had a rival relationship in the past to experience sibling envy in adulthood: “Sibling envy is like a festering wound and it sours our relationships to the point where we can’t bear the idea of our siblings being successful, or even happy, and instead take pleasure in their failures” (Woods par. 4).
Helpful parenting practices
So, if the main reason for sibling rivalry lies in parents’ attitude towards their kids, what can be done to avert its damaging impact on the family relationship? Gleitman et al. argue that one of the most effective parenting practices, in this case, is to praise the differences between siblings rather than openly comparing them to one another (604). Boyse agrees with this point, explaining that regular family meetings, equal distribution of parents’ time and attention between the siblings, as well as maintaining an overall positive and calm environment within the family are crucial to promoting the healthy development of the relationship between siblings (par. 4-5). Leaving an adequate amount of personal space for both kids and setting basic rules for their communication with one another is also part of a good parents’ tactics for dealing with sibling rivalry (Boyse par. 4).
Overall, sibling rivalry is hard to ignore and the parents must address it to minimize the possibility of long-term negative effects of rivalry on the sibling relationship. One of the key mistakes parents make is assuming that rivalry between siblings is normal and goes away with age; on the contrary, parents should be working with their kids to help them resolve conflicts (Boyse par. 3, 6). Learning to overcome aggression and frustration leads to a better understanding of self and helps children to develop and explore effective communication strategies that will help them in later life.
Badger, Julia, and Peter Reddy. “The Effects of Birth Order on Personality Traits and Feelings of Academic Sibling Rivalry.” Psychology Teaching Review, vol. 15, no. 1, 2009, pp. 45-54.
Boyse, Kyla. “Sibling Rivalry.” Michigan Medicine, 2011, Web.
Briscoe, Joanna. “A Nasty Case of Sibling Rivalry.” The Guardian, 2014, Web.
Gleitman, Henry et al. Psychology. 8th ed., Norton, 2011.
Whiteman, Shawn et al. “Theoretical Perspectives on Sibling Relationships.” Journal of Family Theory and Review, vol. 3, no. 2, 2011, pp. 124-139.
Woods, Judith. “What Happens When Sibling Rivalry Turns into Adult Envy?” Daily Mail Online, 2010, Web.
Genetically Modified Organisms And Future Farming
Food belongs to the things without which humanity cannot exist. Therefore, when food producers face problems, all people inhabiting the planet do, too. When farmers do not have good harvests or when insects damage crops, when natural disasters destroy fields or the conditions of storage lead to the loss of large amounts of food, there is a threat to people’s existence. Scientists have been trying to save the situation by creating genetically modified organisms that can keep food resistant to insects and other adverse influences. However, GMOs meet many obstructions from health organizations and citizens as they can cause many harmful effects for the consumers of such food. There are many debates about the benefits and limitations of GMOs, but so far, scientists fail to prove that the advantages of these organisms are more numerous than the disadvantages.
The first argument against GMO foods
Genetically modified foods provoke a lot of controversy among citizens and scientists. Those who support the right of GMOs to exist say that they provide better opportunities for humanity as their storage time is longer and resistance to harmful organisms is higher. Those who advocate the abolishing of GMOs say that they bring damage to people’s health and the environment. According to a professor of bioethics Arthur L. Caplan, nearly seventy-five percent of US citizens feel worried about the outcomes of the consumption of genetically modified food (Caplan 407). About one-third of these people believe that GM foods are responsible for allergies and cancer. Caplan notes that research on animals consuming GM foods shows that they give birth to rather weak and ill offsprings. Further, Caplan remarks that GMOs are the biggest threat to the modern world (Caplan 407). This evidence demonstrates how GMOs may harm life on the planet and stimulates people to be more cautious about their food choices. As Robin Mather, a renowned food columnist, mentions, the debate about GM foods “rages” (Mather 410). Mather, as well as Caplan, mentions that GM foods are extremely dangerous. Moreover, Mather points out that governments are doing too little to eliminate the harmful effect of GMOs because they refuse to implement the laws which would require farmers to label GM foods (Mather 410). The author notes that since GMOs gained control of the core agribusiness sectors, many biotech organizations now govern not only GM seeds but almost the whole seed supply (Mather 410). Mather emphasizes that the changes in DNA caused by genetic modification could never happen in nature and are not as definite as their advocates make them look (Mather 410).
The second argument against GMOs
Another serious issue is that in spite of the advocates’ arguments about GMOs’ benefits in increasing food supply, this fact does not have any proof. GMO supporters claim that they are going to save people from hunger by producing more food. However, the problem is not in the amount of food but in access to it. One of the most discussed topics in this area is the production of “Golden Rice” – a genetically engineered product with a high amount of Vitamin A (Potrykus 68). The Golden Rice project claims that its purpose it so provide enough food for those living in developing countries. However, according to Caplan, genetic engineering has not succeeded in finding solutions to food problems that humanity faces so far (410). Organic farming, which the GMO advocates use as a tool of defense, is not an answer to the problem of hunger. People in poor regions have no access to any food – neither organic nor non-organic and that it is the major obstacle to the prosperous future of the planet. Moreover, products from organic farms undergo strict control measures from the government (Hauter 79). As a result, there are frequent cases of large companies buying out the food produced by small companies (Hauter 79). Such politics leads to the increase of prices on organic products. Additionally, it impacts the quality of such food because, in an attempt to make it more affordable, large companies allow the use of synthetic ingredients (Hauter 79). Thus, specialists conclude that GMO foods not only bring no benefits but also cause harm. As Caplan mentions, “a few seed banks” are not enough to provide vulnerable foods with diversity (409). At the same time, the problem of food availability for underserved regions remains open.
Counterargument and rebuttal
While there is much evidence of GM foods being a threat to people, there are also many advocates of genetic modification who say that this process is rather significant for humanity. A professor of political science Robert Paarlberg is one of such defenders. According to him, labeling GM foods may be a good idea for the USA and other developed countries, but it puts the developing countries’ citizens in danger of hunger (Paarlberg). Paarlberg argues that GMOs do not cause any new threats to the environment or people’s health. He quotes the Research Directorate of the European Union which made the conclusion that GM foods bring no more risk than “conventional plant breeding technologies” (Paarlberg). Paarberg’s opinion finds support in the works of Smith and Tscharntke et al. As Smith mentions, the future of global food security greatly depends on conservation methods, which means that GMOs may be a good option (20). Tscharntke et al. also argue that GM food is a good option since it helps to reduce “land grabbing” (55). Moreover, there is an opinion that GMOs can be a solution to the problem of fruit and crop diseases (Caplan 407-408). However, no matter how nice and promising all of these arguments sound, there is no evidence of the benefits of GMOs outnumbering their limitations. On the contrary, research shows that there are adverse outcomes of GM food consumption (Caplan 407). Thus, the question of introducing GMOs into the everyday life of all people without any warning remains open. So far, there are more opponents of such an idea than supporters.
The question of GMOs is among the acutest and most debatable ones in the modern world. In the era of growing food and environmental consciousness, people pay much more attention to what they are consuming than they used to do a couple of decades ago. There is much evidence both for and against GM foods. Some argue against genetically modified organisms as they believe that such modifications can bring serious harm to health. Others, on the contrary, think that GM foods are going to save the planet from hunger. However, everyone should remember that any genetic changes produce an irreversible impact on nature and people. It is up to everyone to choose whether to consume such products or not. What is most important is that governments should not push citizens towards the consumption of potentially dangerous products. Only when scientists prove the benefits of GMOs over their disadvantages should these products receive approval and support from the governments.
Caplan, Arthur L. “Genetically Modified Food: Good, Bad, Ugly.” Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, edited by John R. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 10th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 407-410.
Hauter, Wenonah. Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America. The New Press, 2012.
Mather, Robin. “The Threats from Genetically Modified Foods.” Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, edited by John R. Ramage, John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 10th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 410-415.
Paarlberg, Robert. “The World Needs Genetically Modified Foods.” The Wall Street Journal, 2013, Web.
Potrykus, Ingo. “Golden Rice,” a GMO-Product for Public Good, and the Consequences of GE-Regulation.” Journal of Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology, vol. 21, no. S1, 2012, pp. 68-75.
Smith, Pete. “Delivering Food Security without Increasing Pressure on Land.” Global Food Security, vol. 2, no. 1, 2013, pp. 18-23.
Tscharntke, Teja, et al. “Global Food Security, Biodiversity Conservation and the Future of Agricultural Intensification.” Biological Conservation, vol. 151, no. 1, 2012, pp. 53-59.
“The Autobiography Of An Ex-Colored Man” By Johnson
The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is the work written by an African-American writer James Weldon Johnson in the early 20th century when racism was considered the norm in the New World. Despite the title, the author admitted that this novel was not autobiographical and mostly fictional. Nevertheless, the book has some nuances that Johnson derived from his personal experience.
Perhaps, that is why it was published anonymously, and the writer admitted his authorship only much later. He did it for security reasons because he feared that such a topic could adversely affect his career. The novel is a vivid reflection of the idea of the struggle for equality and the attempts of the African-American population of the 20th century to achieve complete freedom and recognition in the society. Probably, it was the observation of the behavior of many of his fellows that prompted Johnson to write this book, which gained great popularity and is in demand among readers and critics even today.
Peculiarities of the Novel’s Characters
The narration in the book is from the first person, and the main character is an African-American guy born in the state of Georgia after the Civil War. From the very beginning, the character tells readers that he is going to present a great mystery, saying: “I am divulging the great secret of my life” (Johnson 1). However, his desire to share his observations and experiences is stronger than fear; therefore, he decided to tell his story from the very beginning of his life.
The boy lived with his mother, but he did not have a father. The narrator remembered father’s image vaguely and kept the only thing that he had left the boy: a coin with a hole in the middle that the character wore around his neck throughout his life, saying that “I still possess it.” (Johnson 2). He admitted that he almost did not know his father; he saw him a few times as the father lived in New York, and all the times he was afraid of that not very familiar man who embarrassed the narrator. The man recalled his mother as a hard-working person who rarely visited other local women. However, he noted that “there were a great many ladies coming to our cottage” (Johnson 3).
The fact was that his mother was engaged in sewing, and local people often came to them for her services. The character remembered that his mother had dressed him neatly, looked after his manners, and brought him up following gentlemen’s norms. Perhaps, it is what influenced the fact that later this man grew up well-bred and educated enough to formulate his thoughts correctly. It was the mother who was his first teacher of music and instilled love for this art in him. She could play the piano, and the son, listening to her, tried to imitate her. It was his mother who convinced the boy that it was necessary to play music.
After he had studied for several years in a private school with an excellent teacher, his mother sent him to a public school where he met many people and realized his difference from many other students for the first time. There, he met another boy, whom he called “Red Head.” The narrator remembered that they immediately had become friends since they had “a simultaneous mutual attraction” (Johnson 5). The guy recalled that there had been a few more “colored” children in his class, and it was in a new school where he first learned about how some local boys and girls treated African-Americans.
Mother was the person who helped him to cope with troubles and explained what patience and inner strength meant. She was very upset when she knew that her son was bullied at school. The narrator always remembered his mother and what she taught him. This mother-son relationship may have helped a young man to become a thinking and well-mannered person. The love he felt for his mother is something that the narrator consistently emphasizes throughout the whole book. He saw his mother at the last minute of her life and was beside her when she passed away. He felt a terrible pain and did not know what he could do. Although his pain eventually subsided, he never forgot his dear mother.
Image of the Coin
The coin presented to the protagonist by his father during parting may not be just an ordinary talisman that people wear around their necks. Perhaps, the author wanted to emphasize the connection of the coin with the so-called slavish stigma, when captive people wore distinctive insignia. Since the narrator wore it throughout his life, the author might have associated this item with the bondage of slavery.
It is unlikely that Johnson would have paid much attention to this thing if it had no subtext. Therefore, the coin was perceived as a gift in childhood, but it brought the feeling of despair and the hopelessness of the man’s social position later.
Features of the Narrator’s Life Perception
Although the writer wanted readers to believe in the autobiographical basis of his novel, he just imitated this style of writing, using appropriate terms and techniques. Thus, for example, since the very childhood, the character did not consider him to be special; he lived in a society where he was not pressured. Sometime later, when he became a schoolboy, he began to feel inequality and was worried because of this discomfort. After graduating from the university and his mother’s death, the narrator convinced himself that everything was all right in his life, saying “I am fit for the first time with mother’s death” (Johnson 43).
Such joy was caused by the end of education and, accordingly, the completion of problems. Nevertheless, afterward, the man understood that the ideals that his mother had inspired in him had almost nothing in common with the world that surrounded him.
The protagonist saw that society was divided into classes, and it applied not only to skin color. In his opinion, there were those who hated others, and there were those who practically did not care. For instance, one of the classes of blacks, as the narrator noted, hated “everything covered by a white skin” (Johnson 56). However, there were people who did not hate others of a different race. The man considered them more educated and developed.
The first half of the story ended when the man decided to go to New York. The factory where he worked was closed, and it was one of the main reasons why the narrator decided to go to the North. He understood that it was hard for a black young man to earn trust, but he tried to do everything possible to prove his equality and ability to be a full member of society. It was impossible for black men to get high positions, and the main character saw the examples of such treatment many times. He knew that white people could not be trusted because they did not consider him and others like him ordinary members of their society. Therefore, the decision to leave for New York did not hurt the man but gave him hope.
Comparisons on Racial Grounds
The second half of the story started when the character came to New York. He admitted its fascination and could not deny its beauty and attraction. However, the narrator did not stop lamenting about his country and its structure. He had visited many places including Europe, but wherever the man tried to show his talent of the musician, he failed. Since the author was an African-American, who had spent his childhood and adult life in a difficult era, he knew about all the difficulties of “colored” people, as he called them. He understood that his race did not allow him to reveal his potential fully and to prove to society his right to be called a full-fledged citizen.
Even in the “Club”, where there were many colored people, he felt a biased attitude. The man enjoyed seeing the visitors of this place watch his piano playing and ask questions (Johnson 87). Nevertheless, the narrator regretted that the white person around him was scornful towards him and other people of his race. As he claimed, “even the sound of their names expresses a certain racial difference” (Johnson 99). Therefore, the topic of racial discrimination is the basis of the whole work; it completely reflects the picture of America of the early 20th century.
The narrator said that he was ashamed of living in such a society, and it was a pity that the country with a developed democracy could not do anything so that all its citizens might live equally (Johnson 137). This fact probably worried the author of the book, as he often raised the topic of false ideas and wrong values in his works. It is not a secret that many American classics adhered to this position; however, Johnson’s book is one of the most striking examples of expressing a common idea.
Concept of Happiness
The protagonist traveled to Europe, visited many European capitals, but he did not receive the recognition he wanted. His plans to become a famous American musician, who arrived in the Old World, failed (Johnson 101). The narrator returned to the USA where he continued to experience difficulties and inconvenience. When he was in love, he remembered what good and pleasant feelings he had. “I could never have believed that life held such happiness,” as he marked that period of his life (Johnson 146). Perhaps, the real happiness for the character would be the opportunity to gain recognition among people and the chance to behave and communicate on an equal footing, without experiencing any moral inconvenience.
At the end of the book, the narrator, is already an adult, said that it was not easy for him to understand who he was. “It is difficult for me to analyze my feelings concerning my present position in the world,” as the character said (Johnson 152). It was hard for him to conclude, but looking at his life, he realized that there was a lot of good in it. The character was no longer an active young man; nevertheless, the book ended with the narrator’s idea that he could not understand why he had such a role in his life.
Thus, the style of the author and his vision of the problem of African-Americans living in a society largely coincide with the ideas of his colleagues. The novel became one of the most vivid works about the thinking and emotions of a person with limited freedom in society. Many of the ideas in the book are symbolic and quite relevant, and readers can certainly learn a lot by reading it.
Johnson, James Weldon. The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Penguin Books, 1990.