#siblingrivalry #dontjudgeme #winwin

I remember reading a book about sibling rivalry when I was pregnant with my second child. I naively thought I could control   this domain by reading a few doctoral dissertations and merrily, merrily, merrily life is bout a dream. Well that isn’t exactly how things turned out.  I ended up with four children all formed in the same womb, knitted together by a common thread, and that is where the similarities end.  They came charging out of the womb with their own set of operating instructions, attitudes, and dispositions.  I was confounded each and every day for about twenty years.  (Who am I kidding, I’m still confounded daily)  What worked for one child didn’t work for another and to complicate things I’m a slow processor.  I was just learning to manage temper tantrums when puberty hit and I was doomed.  “What the hell,” I’d call my mom and complain.  She is like a priest; she listens and just lets everything pass in one ear and out the other, until I’d stop talking.  Then she tells me about her garden and which flowers are in bloom.  Not so helpful but calming nevertheless.  The years pass, the gardens bloom, and somehow so did my kids. They still compete for my attention and approval but I think by now they know my love is unconditional. I remember one night not so long ago we were all gathered for dinner and a discussion ensued about family vacations.  We used to make two fourteen hour road trips every year to my parents’ home in the Northwest.  This was a grueling adventure for even the heartiest of parents.  We would carry each kid out to the car, at four in the morning, still sound asleep. (Don’t judge me about the seat belts) Then we would drive until we ran out of gas around Shasta, wake the kids up for a donut stop, and inevitably someone would throw up. This had a domino effect in the enclosed car and let me just say that was some nasty business.  Around Grants Pass the kids start getting restless, I need a coffee, and Larry is about to blow. (A few times we were able to hedge off the eruption by dropping in on the Tardieu family, piling in their hot tub, and sipping margaritas, good times!) 
But usually we just passed on by until we hit Portland and by then it was all out war.  The kids are crying, I’m walking along the highway refusing to get back in the car, and Larry is reduced to throwing soda cans at the insurgents.  It is quite the journey, but when we finally pull off the Interstate 5 onto Donahoe Road in Chehalis, Washington, we are so grateful to be out of the car, we just leave the battlefield behind.  We are now on sacred ground.  After a few days we repeat the process and return home. I had great job security back then. The kids love those memories, reliving the fights, recalling each and every time Larry and I completely lost it. But I guess the whole point of this story is what we learned about sibling rivalry, rumbling along Interstate 5, from San Jose to Chehalis. The best defense against sibling rivalry is to create a little adversity between the parents and the kids. It is a fatal mistake for a parent to align with one kid and not another.  When the kids band together we win as parents.  Who cares if we’ve scared them for life, at least they know they can rely on each other during tough times, and secretly Larry and I learned the same lesson.  Win, win…

Dare to share one of your family lessons in the comments? 

You might also enjoy: Standing on the Table of Life or Someone’s Knocking at the Door


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  1. The hot tub photo stunned me. It seems like just yesterday that you pulled in for a quick stopover. I remember Larry getting out of the car with a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and thinking to myself, \”I hope he invites me to a piece or two…\” Olivia was born in '98 so that picture is from about 2000? 15 years ago…seems like yesterday.


  2. Greg it is crazy how fast those kids grew up! These days I feel like I have to make every minute count. When I'm not paying attention, time seems to leap! Wishing you well my friend!


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