Yesterday, I posted a video about sibling rivalry. It’s an interview with my 14-year-old daughter Sophie.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked, “No such thing as sibling rivalry?” and Sophie answered, “Not in this house!”
I’ve been thinking about the value of posting this video. Is it helpful? Perhaps it’s not. Could it be off-putting?
We’ve all heard about those blogs where the blogger and her family seem to be perfect. They make us wonder what we’re doing wrong. Why don’t we have a perfect family too? The posts don’t build us up. Instead, they cause us to doubt ourselves and lose confidence. We end up avoiding such places.
Perhaps my video is like these perfect blogs. It might cause people to click away: “I don’t need to watch another video about the perfect Elvis girls.” And if you did that, I would understand.
So why did I publish this video? Because people ask me if we have a problem with sibling rivalry and the video interview is a true answer. There’s another reason: I believe it’s unschooling which has drawn us together as a family and strengthened the bonds between siblings. I want to tell people about that.
In some ways, I think if I’d made a video about how we’re struggling with sibling rivalry, it would have been much more helpful. If anyone else is having a hard time getting their kids to live peacefully with each other, they might think, “Oh yes, I’m not alone.” We could commiserate with each other. We might compare notes. We’d try and help each other.
This morning, in an attempt to be more helpful, I chatted with my girls about sibling rivalry. I asked, “Can you remember any times when things weren’t quite so good between you?” They came up with a few examples and I said, “Things got better. Why?” Nobody really knew. It’s very hard dissecting relationships and coming up with a list of things we did and didn’t do, especially when we’re looking back quite a few years. But I did scribble down these points which we discussed:
- Make sure siblings have their own personal space, both physical space and their own quiet times. This is especially important for older siblings.
- Don’t tolerate unkind words and meanness. Kids aren’t free to say and do whatever they like. Nor are parents. We have to keep each other safe.
- Never criticise a child, especially when she isn’t present. Don’t allow siblings to criticise each other either.
- Home should be a safe refuge from the world where everyone is accepted.
- Build up a good family team spirit. Enjoy being a family. Do things together. Spend time building bonds between all members. Have fun but also work together. Doing hard and challenging things draws people close.
- Sometimes when one sibling is having trouble getting on with another, they may need extra time and attention rather than critical words. Can we empathise and listen rather than express disappointment?
- If a parent is willing to help a child, a child is more likely to be willing to help a sibling. A parent’s example is most important.
- Changing relationships doesn’t happen overnight. Keep working at it.
Maybe everything starts with love. And I’m not saying parents don’t love enough because we do. Could it have more to do with the expression of that love? What are we willing to do to make sure our kids feel loved? The love we give them has a way of spilling over to other people, especially siblings.
Sibling rivalry has long term consequences. It doesn’t necessarily disappear when a child grows up, so it’s a good thing to talk about.
And now on to another sibling rivalry interview. I interviewed my 21-year-old daughter, Imogen before she had a chance to see the video I made with Sophie. Will she agree with her younger sister’s opinions?
As you can see, I don’t have all the answers about sibling rivalry. I’m sure I have missed lots of points. If you’d like to add your thoughts, please do!
And please don’t click away. We’re not really perfect. How do I know that? I interviewed Sophie and she told me. We talked about perfection, mistakes and listening to kids. I’ll post that video in a few days’ time when Sophie has had a chance to edit it for me.
(You could subscribe to my Youtube channel. I don’t always post my videos here on my blog.)