I grew up with an older sister. That meant I followed her through school, church, and 4-H activities. We even went to the same university and the same college within the university. And I still remember the day I walked into a college class and the instructor said, “Your sister would never wear that to class.” I didn’t say much but inside I was thinking, “I am NOT my sister and I will wear what I want!” You can about guess I wore interesting clothing choices for the rest of that class.
I share this story to make an important point about siblings – don’t compare your children. Don’t compare them to each other. And if you have an only child don’t compare your child to cousins or friends. Of course it is natural for you to notice that your son is more athletic and your daughter gets along better with her friends. Each will have his or her own special personality, talents, and skills. No two kids are alike and should be treated as individuals.
We might think that by comparing kids they will want to act better or work harder at perfecting a skill. That usually backfires (like it did with me). Instead kids are more apt to get jealous or think you are being unfair. Remember the Smothers brothers and their famous line, “Mom always did like you best.” Focus on finding ways to let your children know their unique qualities have nothing to do with anyone else.
And just for the record, I still don’t dress like my sister. 🙂
You’re smiling. I know it. So am I. We’ve all heard, seen or done it ourselves.
Sibling rivalry. It is what it is. The love hate like despise relationship with those closest to us.
I wanted to see what research had to say about our siblings. I entered the following in my search engine: Sibling Rivalry : edu
Wow what a list! We must really have lots of questions about those amazing siblings!
What kinds of experiences have you had with sibling rivalry?
I grew up in a family with an older sister and two younger brothers. We were pretty typical – playing and fighting our ways through the days. Eventually we all launched into the world as adults. We reconnected occasionally at the parental home as happens in most families. First our father died and then our mother. We were truly on our own and that sentiment is echoed by Katherine Conger, family sociologist at the University of California, Davis. She says that spouses come along later in our lives and parents eventually leave us. Siblings are with us for the whole journey.
I’ve watched other families after the death of the last parent. Sometimes a family grows apart without the common denominator of a parent and family home. In our case we forged stronger links. The connections are powerful as we no longer try to compete or change each other. We focus on what we have in common instead of our differences. This is consistent with findings that the shared early childhood experiences cast a long shadow.
All this can be comforting to parents as they referee endless arguments with their children. Some day those children may come together as good friends. It is also a reminder that it is not too late to reconnect with your own siblings. Conflicts and disagreements can be forgotten (and forgiven) and replaced by the support of those who were there from the beginning.
Have you experienced the death of one or more parents? If so, how has the relationship with your siblings changed?
Brothers and sisters can seem to be arch enemies one moment and best friends the next. Or maybe you’ve described it as “can’t live with them, can’t live without them”.
The good news is that while siblings fight a lot, they also learn to resolve the conflicts, this is a valuable social skill that translates well into relationships in school. Fast forward into the adult world with personal and work relationships, and you can readily see how living with siblings is a rehearsal for later life.
During July, we will talk about the benefits and challenges of siblings, stereotypes, and how siblings shape each other’s lives.