Stop Sibling Rivalry: Help Siblings to Get Along with One Simple Change…
Sibling rivalry has been a problem since the beginning of time. The children are grown, and old battles rage on. I came from a family where we could barely be in the same room with each other even when our mother was dying. Imagine being adopted, and while your mother is on her death bed, you are being told by her biological children that the woman who adopted you and raised you your whole life is not your mother. And you have fought this battle ever since your father passed away when you were in your 20s…almost 30 years.
The one sibling who loved you passed away from a brain tumor 17 years earlier. But he and I were tight. Best friends. And that is a wonderful thing for siblings and what I wanted for my children.
Do not ever tolerate one of your children being cruel to another. It is just not OK. I never wanted my children to grow up to be those people. Ever.
And I never wanted my children to know what it felt like to be on the receiving end of that. I never wanted my children, the two people who I loved more than anything in this world, to ever be horribly cruel to each other like that.
I wanted a more beautiful life for my children.
As adults, it may be too late for us to have anything different with our families, but it’s not too late to teach your children a better way, even if you did not have it yourself. It does not have to end as a tragic, lifelong battle. It can be different.
And I may have found an unlikely way of doing that. It is actually something my sons stumbled across when they were younger and recently shared the secret with me.
My sons are grown now. The oldest is 28, and the youngest is 26. They are twelve days shy of being two years apart. While I impressed on the boys the importance of family and sticking together, you know, blood is thicker than water, wanting to create the family bond that I did not have, it was not working.
Saying it was not enough.
Requiring it was not enough.
While those are both good things to do. They were not enough.
Oddly, it was not until they realized, while playing the Super Nintendo, they could play on the same side in teams against the game that they finally got what I had been trying to instill in them for all those years. This was the turning point. They are almost 30 and still talk about that moment today.
The competitiveness that two little boys close in age had was now directed energy at competing together to beat the game or others, but not each other. They are even roommates now and are always there for each other.
We even got them an Xbox and game for Christmas this year, and they still play the same way…on the same side.
How did I miss this? Of all the things I tried, I had not thought about this as team building. In my defense, everyone in my family was practically grown by the time I came along, so for all practical purposes, I grew up as an only child. My idea of team building was what dolls I would be playing with that day.
When my children were growing up, we were not a family big on electronic games. They got 30 minutes a day and sometimes a little more in the summer. So this does not mean they need hours upon hours of electronic game time to accomplish this but just something the do that gets them on the same side competing with a game or against others instead of each other. And it may not even be the latest electronic game. It could be any game, even a board game that plays in teams.
Be intentional about this. Look for opportunities to build teams as a family. It can be more life-changing than you realize.
It wasn’t until they were grown that they shared with me the secret of when and how this changed. So now you have a little insider secret…get them on the same side, working toward a common goal or against a common opponent, and make it fun.
That is what we want for our children. We will not always be there. And even when we are, sometimes they need a brother or a sister. It is just a different relationship, a different bond. I know that my sons will always have each other. They have a heart for each other and are genuinely vested in the other’s well being. I have seen this in some amazing ways with my sons.
I love Joaquin’s description of his family…
“I had a really wonderful upbringing. We were a tight family. It was wonderful to grow up with so many siblings. We were all just a year or two apart, and we were always so supportive of each other. I learned everything from my older brother and sister and taught it to my younger sisters.” -Joaquin Phoenix
It is indeed a beautiful thing when done right.
Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero. -Marc Brown