Friday, November 4, 2011

Sibling Rivarly

My children are 9, 7, 6, and 4. My two oldest are nearly 10 and 8. You know when your kids are small - that the years seem to create huge gaps in their physical and emotional maturity and capabilities? It seems like somewhere between 3 and 6 we just sort of lumped them all together. Having our kids so close together in age has it's challenges and it's benefits. For many years it was easy to lump them together with what they could do - especially the oldest 3 who are all within 3 years of each other. Chores, discipline, rewards, expectations.... were generally the same. Mostly out of sanity for my husband and myself. Sometimes there were moments where I felt my oldest was getting the shaft - feeling as if he deserved more rewards than he was getting. But then I often felt that my 3rd born was getting the shaft as my expectations of him where equal to that of his brother - 3 years older.

All this to say - it's been a song and dance and time of adjusting and pondering lately.

It seems that as our kids age - I am seeing the age difference be more pronounced. I anticipate this for a season and then I anticipate it falling back into the older pattern where they catch up with each other (perhaps in the teen years).

As a Mom, I find myself flustered and frustrated when watching and listening to my kids. I think they feel frustrated with the status quo right now as well. There is a lack of consistency from the parents and lack of follow through all the time. My oldest wants to have the extra privileges without the extra responsibility. My younger ones want to have equal rights to the big brother. The "That's not fair" line is thrown around a LOT. I mean A LOT. It doesn't seem to matter how much I acknowledge and encourage them to buy into the fact that life isn't fair; they think it should be.

Mornings seem to be the witching hour at our house. Getting ready for school, showers, breakfast, back packs, coats.... all of that is interrupted with flares of tempers and words that are less than building in nature. "He made me". "It's all her fault." and "I am so angry right now", are heard regularly. I frequently have to remind them that it takes 2 to fight. That no one can MAKE you feel a certain way or MAKE you choose a poor choice. I also remind them that anger is okay but it has to be handled in an okay way. That in their anger they can not sin. Practical ways they shouldn't sin right now is in hitting, rude words, glaring, sticking their tongues out, hitting walls, throwing things, or any sort of violence.

I wish I could get a glimpse into their little hearts and see what was going on in there. Maybe then I could understand better how to parent.

Right now, it's just tough.

This feels like a disjointed flailing post .... but it did help to just get a few thoughts out.

How do you deal with sibling rivalry?


Me! said...

Boy, parenting is really tough isn't it!?! I've been there many times, Charity. It always makes me think about how God must shake his head at us sometimes, yet His unfailing love never leaves us or fails us. As hard as it is to deal with sibling rivalry, I think it is best for us parents to just bring it to the Lord, whatever it may be. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. But it really helps me and my kids to force ourselves to stop and pray together. And what I need to be better about is pulling out God's word to show them what God teaches us in whatever circumstance, fight, etc. so we can use it as a teachable moment.
May God be with you through the tough days.

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