In a study done recently by Oxford University, 3,500 12-years olds were quizzed on whether or not they had been bullied by a sibling, and if so - how often. How did they define 'bullied' - physically
hurt, ostracised, ignored, the subject of lies, rumours, and deliberately hurtful remarks. At the age of 18 these same 3,500 were quizzed again. In the original study around 800 of the children had said they had been bullied and when quizzed at 18 these 800 were twice as likely to be clinically depressed compared with the non-bullied ones. Girls were more likely to have been the victims.
I sat down and thought about it. I am the youngest of three (two others died in infancy long before I was born). My sister was twenty-two years older than me (same parents) and was married before I was a year old. I obviously wasn't bullied by her but I do remember being resentful of her in various ways. For example, all my friends at school had tennis rackets, my parents couldn't afford one at the time, so I had to borrow my sister's. Once, at a vital time (match of some sort), I couldn't play because she needed her racket, so I had to drop out. I still remember that I somehow felt the need to lie about the reason so that I hid the fact that it wasn't my racket.
There were many other occasions, all of them equally petty. But I do know that throughout my life I had a much easier relationship with my brother (11 years older), who I adored.
Being a parent myself didn't present those problems as I only had one child, but it is hard for parents not to categorise their children as 'the pretty one', 'the clever one' and so on, even if they are all loved equally.
This thinking came as a result of an article by Stephanie Smith in today's Yorkshire Post and also in the light of the news that there is to be a new Royal sprog. It is all too easy to look at the Royal family over the last few generations and see the differences.
The Queen, who has been the most wonderful Monarch (whether you are a Royalist or not you have to agree on this) was, I understand, brought up in a different manner from her sister, Princess Margaret. Her Majesty was groomed for the role, which she has fulfilled for so long, from being a small child. Prince Charles has always seemed so much more serious than his siblings, yet underneath one can catch glimpses of the fun chap he probably is. This is emphasised in the fact that Princes William and Harry seem to have had so much freer and happier a life - both obviously have great affection for one another. And when Harry was asked yesterday how he felt about slipping one place down the line of succession, he said 'great' and I am sure he meant it.
Where do you come in the line of your family? Were you bullied? Or were you the bully? Or was everything in the garden lovely?
On a completely different subject - I had my eyes tested yesterday and I need new specs. When I was choosing the new frames I picked up some red frames with purple sides - 'I rather like these', I said to the optician. He laughed - 'those are really teenagers' frames' he said. That decided me - I am having them!