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I was wondering if any of you wise mama's had any thoughts to share on sibling relationships. I grew up in a very hierarchial-ish home (older is takes care of the younger, different rules for everyone eetc). I always assumed I raise my kids the same, but mine are very close in age; so I'm wondering if that's best.

I'm already using language like 'take care of your sister/listen to brother etc'. So I'm just looking for some ideas, example and thoughts on nurturing a good sibling relationship in your eyes.

TIA.
 

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I really try to avoid trapping our three into roles. Instead of focusing on their role in the birth order or even roles that can come of judgements of character (like, say, "DD is our honor student and DS is our star athlete), I try to recognize what efforts I see and encourage co-operation all round. DH and I were both first borns, and both gifted, and had parents, like yours, who had the hierarchy. Not only was the pressure stressful, but we both had to struggle with conflicts between parental expectation and personal expectation.

The other tricky thing is that sometimes the oldest is not as capable of taking on the leadership role as one of the later borns. DS1 is only 18 months older than DD (I never know how to number this as child three is the second of the sons, DD is second born but first daughter) and is a lot less socially and emotionally aware. On top of that, DD is the better athlete and does very well academically. We struggle with giving DS1 a sense of getting to be the first to achieve something as society's message is very much that getting to be that trailblazer is part of being a first born. We try to encourage lots of exposure to individual interests so that each child gets to shine rather than compare.

I think the biggest sibling struggle for many of us with 3 and more children is not getting too soft on the last borns. They seem even more little by comparison, and both DH and I find ourselves being too lenient with our last born.
 

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I think couples, including parents, show some

sibling rivalry towards each other. As I looked at

the other couples in our life I saw "sibling rivalry"

between the two people in each couple. Who does

more dishes, some jealousy when one goes alone

on a business trip, friction about money, etc.. I

recall Dr Brazelton (the famous perdiatrician) felt that

"gatekeeping" was a problem between parents

wherein each tried to limit the influence the other

had over their children.

I try not to model any rivalry between my spouse

and I.

"The one thing that needs to be mentioned is that there is always gatekeeping. That means every adult who falls in love with the same baby is in competition with every other adult, so they gatekeep. When a new father picks up the baby, the mother is all too likely to tell him, "You shouldn't do it that way." She will make little cracks all the way through, unconsciously, making it competitive..." ~ Dr. T. Berry Brazelton on Being a New Dad Founder of the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital, Boston
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by FarmerBeth View Post

I really try to avoid trapping our three into roles.
Yes to this. We are not roles -- we are people. While it's true that, as parents, it's our responsibility to respond to our children's needs, and, as people, it's everyone's responsibility to care for one's fellow-man, and those who are more mature and capable should look out for and help those who are less mature and capable, it's really not necessary to have a hierarchy for this to happen.

We should just start out by being responsive to our children and taking them seriously, and also start out by communicating with our children (age appropriately) about our own needs and feelings -- NOT in the sense of expecting them to fill an adult role, but in the sense of helping them to learn empathy, This also involves communicating with them about the needs and feelings of their siblings (and encouraging siblings to do so, too) -- and about the needs and feelings of other people, too.

In this way, children learn that they are loved and worthy of love and that they can trust that their needs will be met, and they learn that others have needs and feelings, too, and that others are worthy of love and respect just as they are.

I honestly feel that dh and I are the ones who got to enjoy the sex that resulted in our two daughters; we are the ones who made a choice to become parents and to have not just one, but two, children. Dd1 didn't choose to become a parent. While I certainly welcome her help when she wants to spend time with and nurture and enjoy her little sister, I truly don't feel that she has any responsibility to take care of, or to "boss," dd2..

They are, however, certainly responsible toward one another as human beings who share a particular little corner of the same planet.

Of course, I also don't see my relationship with my children as hierarchical. I do have a tremendous amount of wisdom and experience that they don't have yet, and they are pieces of my heart that are now freely living and pursuing their dreams outside my body,* which makes me feel very strongly tied to supporting their wellbeing, and I will always feel this way.

One part of supporting their wellbeing is learning to distinguish between the situations where they need my guidance and protection, and the situations where they are ready to branch out and handle things on their own. As they grow, there will be fewer of the former and more of the latter...it's not so much that dh and I are "over" them as that we are responsible to parent them until they are ready to assume that responsibility for themselves.

As they branch out, I, of course, do hope that they will continue to love and like one another as human beings who share blood ties as well as a whole lot of history. I want them to have, now and forever, exactly the sort of relationship that they are destined to have. I'd hate to interfere with the natural blossoming of that relationship by trying to force them into hierarchical roles. I see hierarchy as the antithesis of relationship.



* "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

- Elizabeth Stone

http://thinkexist.com/quotes/elizabeth_stone/

 

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interesting topic!

Books I found helpful were Siblings without Rivalry and Liberated Parents, Liberated Children.

Both my DH and I are the youngest in the our families, and we both felt the sibling dynamic was less than ideal in our families of origin. We just have 2 kids, they are closely spaced, and we've tried to de-emphasize the birth order. We haven't been able to rid our family of it completely, but to the degree that we have, I think it's been helpful to our children.

I also totally agree that de-emphasizing roles is helpful to all members of the family. Some roles, like big sister/little sister are about birth order, other roles are about gender sister/brother, and others are about personality -- the quiet one/the bubble one. I don't think any of it is helpful for a child to become their complete self. All roles limit. There is a TON about this in Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, examples of how to make moving away from roles a reality. Excellent book -- one of my all time favorite parenting books

http://www.amazon.com/Liberated-Parents-Children-Happier-Family/dp/0380711346
 
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