Admit it. Most of us have stopped to listen to that catchy yet somewhat annoying song on the new Gap commercial that sings, “Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.” To some, it may remind them of a relationship they have with someone of the opposite sex. For others though, it can mimic the arguments they have wth a sibling.
Sibling rivalry is something that has always been prevalent in families. Ever since the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, numerous historians and psychologists have studied the relationship between siblings and what causes their relationships to become competitive.
For most of us who have siblings, it’s not uncommon to want to outshine them in things like academics and athletics. For many brothers and sisters, choosing a specific area of interest and different schooling path helps one to differentiate his or herself. But choosing that same path can make “standing out” hard to do.
For a few students at John Carroll University, including freshmen Elias and Vicky Haddad, freshmen Matt and Tony Mihalich, and juniors Adam and Cara Pizzurro, they don’t have the option of avoiding their siblings. Not only are these brothers and sisters going to school together, but they are all twins.
“It’s good for twins to go to the same school,” commented John Yost, a psychology professor at John Carroll University and father of two fraternal twins, “it’s particularly good if they have different majors and interests.”
Freshmen fraternal twins Tony and Matt Mihalich both agreed that attending the same school has been for the better because of their different majors and interests. It has also made the adjustment to college life a little easier.
“I didn’t have to sit around in my room and hug my knees all day,” recalled Tony on the very first weeks of school, “I knew I had my brother to go out and do something with.”
For the Mihalich twins, going to the same school was not something that they had planned.
“We applied to a lot of the same schools but for different reasons,” said Matt. “Tony liked John Carroll because he could study abroad, and I liked it because I could play basketball.”
According to recent studies in the U.S., siblings are more likely to have negative relationships if they are the same sex and close together in age. This is heightened in the case of same sex twins. Being compared and contrasted with each other seems to promote competition and rivalry.
However, when it comes down to sibling rivalry between the two, both Tony and Matt agree there is none. “If anything we’re more competitive with our older brother than with each other,” replied Matt.
Given their situation, it’s common that Matt and Tony are not competitive with each other.
“Competitiveness among twins is a result of having the same interests,” said Yost. “With competition, there is always a winner and a loser which will cause strain on the relationship.”
In the case of freshmen Elias and Vicky Hadadd, both feel that their relationship lacks competition between each other because they were never compared by their parents.
“There is no competitiveness between us because our parents have different expectations for the both of us,” said Elias.
The twins explained that their parents react to each child’s individual efforts differently because they are both strong in different areas.
While Elias is a pre-med student excelling in the science field, Vicky is a compelling writer, making her strongest subject English.
“If I do really well on a Biology test my parents make a big deal about it,” added Vicky. “However if my brother does just as good they don’t make as big of a fuss over it.”
“Parents play a large role in twin’s competitive relationship,” Yost said, “When parents tell their children things like, I love you for winning that award, kids are naturally going to compete against each other to get their parent’s love.”
For junior twins Adam and Cara Pizzurro, it’s their parents who seem to have helped shape their strong relationship.
Adam doesn’t deny the fact that many people, including his parents, probably compare the two of them. “With two report cards going home to the same house there’s going to be some comparing,” he said.
Cara realizes that as a twin, people are likely to be perceive her and her brother as more competitive with each other than other siblings. “I think with any siblings there’s competition,” she commented, “but it doesn’t even feel like we’re really twins, it’s more like brother and sister.”
Both Adam and Cara expressed that there is no ongoing rivalry between the two of them, but that both of their competitive drives come from their parents’ philosophy.
“Our parents always stressed more importance on being good individuals and not to be content with mediocrity,” said Adam, “they always told us do it to the fullest or don’t do it at all, and I think that’s where a lot of our competitiveness comes from.”
Although having a sibling or even being a twin can be a personal battle to set oneself apart, the relationship between siblings is a unique bond. If twins attending the same university can make their relationships work well while still seeing each other’s face everyday, there’s hope out there for the rest of us.