One of the things that I worried about when I was expecting my second child was that she and Emma would have a relationship like my sister and me. We have never been close, but at least we talk and I think there is hope for a better relationship. My father and his one remaining brother, however, haven’t spoken for over 20 years.
Nobody really knows why and I wonder if they remember anymore what has been keeping them apart. We all know that they stopped talking around the time another brother died. But that’s all we really know.
This summer we all got together at Brady’s Run Park, in Western Pa., where I grew up, and had a family reunion; they have been gathering every year there. I have not been to a reunion since I was a child.
It was kind of surreal to see cousins I had not seen since childhood. Bizarre in some cases. People did not recognize me. And I found myself wondering who the certain individuals were. Time has not been good to many of us—failed marriages, health problems, and drug issues. You name it. The Cox Clan has its difficulties. But there was a lot of love there, as well.
But still, the one brother not speaking with the other brother situation was one that seemed to hang in the air. My cousin, son of my silent uncle, said. “This thing between our fathers is bullshit.” I said, “You are right.”
I wonder if the issue between them is just a surfacing of older yet wounds from their non-storybook childhood. I began looking around for some information on sibling rivalry.
I want to start good relationship patterns now. If something arises in my daughters’ relationship, I want them to talk it out, or fight it out, if need be. I want them to know the love we created when we made them is true and it can see them through anything. After my husband and I are gone, they will need one another.
Here is what I found from the University of Michigan Health System Website.
How can I help my kids get along better?
Never compare your children. This one is a “biggie”.
Don’t typecast. Let each child be who they are. Don’t try to pigeonhole or label them.
Don’t play favorites.
Set your kids up to cooperate rather than compete. For example, have them race the clock to pick up toys, instead of racing each other.
Pay attention to the time of day and other patterns in when conflicts usually occur. Perhaps a change in the routine, an earlier meal or snack, or a well-planned activity when the kids are at loose ends could help avert your kids’ conflicts.
Teach your kids positive ways to get attention from each other. Show them how to approach another child and ask them to play.
Being fair is very important, but it is not the same as being equal. Your children need to learn that you will do your best to meet each of their unique needs. Even if you are able to do everything totally equally, your children will still feel as if they’re not getting a fair share of attention, discipline, or responsiveness from you.
Plan family activities that are fun for everyone. If your kids have good experiences together, it acts as a buffer when they come into conflict. It’s easier to work it out with someone you share warm memories with.
Make sure each child has enough time and space of their own. Kids need chances to do their own thing, play with their own friends without their sibling, and they need to have their space and property protected.