Monica is a senior from the Bay Area, California. She loves playing video games, reading fantasy, listening to rap, and doing pretty much anything that works together to highlight her individuality.
A peaceful house is a happy house, and sometimes, it can be all too difficult for people in a household to get along well, especially if there are a multitude of siblings and a multitude of conflicting needs and wants between them. It does not matter if the children in question are step-siblings, half siblings, full siblings, or adopted; there is bound to be disagreement in the eighteen or more years that they live in a home with their family. Conflicts over property, annoying behavior, and disagreements can occur whether the siblings are five or twenty, but luckily, steps can be taken to prevent hurt feelings and belligerent behavior.
1. Allot time for each of your children to have whatever object they fight over.
This time does not have to be equal, but it does have to be fair. For example, it only makes sense that your child who is sick with the flu and cannot leave the couch should have more access to the television that week. Do not let them bargain (with your knowledge) because someone always ends up being slighted. This is a fair deal, because you, the parent, should not have bias toward either one of your children. Because you also have better decision-making skills that come along with the experience of life, you can allot time fairly.
2. Make sure that you spend time with all of your children.
Though I cannot speak for every child, preteen, and teenager in the world, I have found among my peers and their friends that we relish time with our parents, even if we blow off the initial contact. We want to know that you do care about us and that you are open to our ideas and wants. If a child sees that her parents dote on her younger brother more than they do on her, jealousy arises, and many parents can speak to the fact that jealousy does lead to resentment. An added bonus to this is slowly learning more about your child. It is extremely important to take steps to understand and respect your child, and when she wants to complain to you about her sister’s behavior, you two can brainstorm solutions together.
3. Allow your children to have time apart from each other.
Too much time together with anyone can create tension. That is the case with my brothers and I every summer that none of us have extracurricular activities. My friends, too, admit to purposefully picking on their younger and older siblings alike when they have no better activities to do or when their parents will not let them leave the house. An even better alternative to automatically assuming that your son wants go to the mall with his large group of friends or your daughter wants go to the movies with her boyfriend is asking if there is an activity that you two can do together. This goes back to trying to spend time equally with your children.
4. Have them spend enough time together.
They cannot be strangers living in the same home, especially if they share a room or bathroom. Encourage your children from a young age to share when they play together and to solve challenges together. This will build trust in their relationship. This trust will stay with them throughout life because it is like establishing good credit. When you make even small decisions that help you gain and maintain a good rating, your good rating stays with you. The more they know about each other, the better decisions they are capable of making about encouraging one another throughout life. If, from your youngest years, you began learning about every aspect of someone’s personality, you would effectively be able to make choices about the best things to make that person happy and to calm that person down when he is about to go on a rampage. Yet another advantage is that they have time, even in their teenage years, to discover and rediscover similar interests that they can bond over.
These four tips are full of advantages that outnumber the ideas in my own head, so all of them are worth trying and keeping on with even if upholding these traditions becomes difficult. From what I have seen of siblings who absolutely adore each other, these four practices have been in play in their lives and have allowed them to tell innumerable stories filled only with love and camaraderie with their siblings.
Photo: Andrew Nourse from Flickr