Sibling rivalry. So often parents throw up their hands in frustration when their children are constantly fighting. Their original image of family harmony seems only to be a distant dream. lt’s normal a parent is told. All siblings fight. There’s not much you can do about it.
One of the significant foundations of a family’s life and attitude toward one another are the standards that we set. Standards can differ from family to family but within a family, your standards are the same to follow whether you’re the three- year-old or the forty-three-year-old. So it’s not just a case of getting the kids to stop calling each other nasty names. No one in the family gets to call anyone nasty names if that is a family standard.
Standards don’t deal with minor infractions like dirty socks left in the living room or forgetting to take out the garbage. Standards are the ideals your family lives by. They don’t need to be highfalutin or sanctimonious. They are actions that reflect the ways in which your family relates to each other, to happy and difficult times, to challenging problems and to celebrations. When standards are in place from the beginning, they provide a compass that all members of the family can follow. “In our family, we don’t hit”. A child who hears that from an early age, who sees it modeled, who feels its power every day, has the comfort, security and sense of belonging that allows him to integrate these standards within himself.
Does having family standards alone solve all the problems of sibling rivalry? Absolutely not. But they do provide a framework from which to begin to positively address issues that arise and a constructive path to solving them.
Differing temperaments, stress in the family, competition, jealousy, desire for attention – all can fuel the sparks of sibling rivalry. But a hopeful thought is that sibling rivalry is only but one side of this shiny coin. The other side is sibling caring.
If your family seems like a battleground these days, Family Resources is offering a free 3-week Sibling Rivalry class . Come figure out what’s working and not working in your family dynamics and the triggers that might be setting things off. Snicker, Bicker, Tattle, Battle will be held on Wednesdays, December 3, 10th and 17th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Limited childcare is available. Registration for the class is necessary. Call Fran at 784-8125 for more information or to register.
What a great way to get ready to start the new year ahead!