10 Difficulties Half-Siblings Can Face in Their Relationship

10 Difficulties Half-Siblings Can Face in Their Relationship

One of the things that inspired my young adult novel Alma's Loyalty, was the fact that I have a half sister who was from my mother's first marriage. We didn't grow up together, she was raised by her father and stepmother after her parent's divorce, and I'm from my mother's second marriage.

Growing up we didn't spend much time together, and it was only when I was 13 years old and she was twenty and had moved from the country to our suburb, that we got to bond as sisters.

It was so strange having this person in my life. We felt so close and saw so much resemblance in each other, especially as we were the same star sign and our birthdays were one day apart, and yet we were also so different, in every way.

  1. Differing Upbringing and Values: Half-siblings often grow up in separate households with varying sets of values, rules, and expectations. These differences can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and even feelings of resentment. My sister was raised in a nuclear household, while my mother was mostly a sole parent for my formative years. 

  2. Jealousy and Competition: Feelings of jealousy and competition may arise, especially if one half-sibling perceives the other as receiving preferential treatment from the shared parent. While I had been raised by our mother and had an unsettled childhood due to her bipolar, my sister had a settled childhood. We found ourselves struggling to understand each other's childhood experiences.

  3. Unresolved Feelings of Abandonment: If one parent is absent or less involved in the lives of the half-siblings, it can lead to feelings of abandonment and rejection. Because my mother was a bipolar sufferer, she wasn't a very attentive parent, and this was difficult for my sister because she hadn't grown up seeing this up close.

  4. Blended Family Dynamics: The presence of step-parents and step-siblings can further complicate relationships. I had a stepfather who was the most loving parent who raised me from when I was ten years old and I always called him by his first name. My sister had a stepmother who raised her from childhood and who she called mother.

  5. Identity and Belonging: Half-siblings may struggle with their identity and sense of belonging, particularly if they feel disconnected from their full-blooded siblings or extended family. We were so excited about having a sister that we spent the first few years in heady joy, getting up to all sorts of mischief that sisters can get up. She used to visit me at school and I finally had all these cool adultish experiences to share.

  6. Communication Barriers: We had very different communication styles. My sister was raised to stifle her emotions, I was raised to process them loudly. There were many misunderstandings.

  7. Parental Loyalties: The loyalty half-siblings feel towards their respective biological parents can influence their interactions. My sister was always in the middle attempting to nurture a relationship with my mother, while also maintaining her relationship with her parents. I struggled with accepting my mother's bond with my sister and sharing a parent.

  8. Age and Developmental Differences: Significant age gaps can make it challenging for half-siblings to relate to one another's interests and life stages. My sister is seven years older than so when our relationship started I was an impressionable adolescent and she was the cool adult. She opened so many doors for me and saw me through so many rites of passage that my mother neglected: my first period, my first bra, my first kiss.

  9. Distance and Separation: Physical distance between households can make it harder for half-siblings to spend quality time together, potentially leading to feelings of estrangement. Growing up, my sister lived in the country and was three hours away. I only saw her once a year, if that. Then I lived in Bosnia for four years and she was like a forgotten relative. When we returned in my thirteenth year, everything changed. I was an Australian teenager and had a sister. My new life began.

  10. External Prejudices: Society's attitudes towards blended families and half-sibling relationships can impact how individuals perceive themselves and their bond. For a long time we felt so self conscious about the fact that we looked nothing alike. She is so much tinier than me and we have completely different colouring. She'd call me her "little big sister", and I'd call her my "big little sister." When people commented on our physical appearance, we used to give them our whole life story. And then we realised we didn't owe anyone that much information, and that so many full-blooded siblings looked nothing alike. 

It was this experience of having a half-sibling and, in a sense, discovering my sister in those important formative years that was the canvas for my novel. What if a young girl who was raised as an only child found out she had half-siblings? What if her sister was very close in age to her and they looked creepily alike? How would their relationship develop and what could happen? And from this germ of the idea came Alma's Loyalty.


Alma’s perfect family is fractured when her father finds out he has a long-lost daughter from his first marriage. When his overtures are rebuffed, it’s up to Alma to bring her new-found sister, Sabiha, into the family fold. 

Alma’s Loyalty is the second in the Sassy Saints Series for fans of fake friendships, secret boyfriends, long-lost relatives, and fierce and funny girls.

'Pajalić bravely deals with some serious adolescent issues.' Kirkus Review

‘Amra Pajalić writes with such honesty every young adult will empathise with her… While dealing with some ordinary “stuff” Pajalic’s observations are sincere and often hilarious.’ Bending Advertiser

Now available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, dyslexic font, audiobook, and large print. Click the image below.



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