Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sibling rivalry

I am convinced that siblings play a greater part in each other's character building than even their parents do and, though it is far from intentional and often the result of temperament and perception than any specific act, it should not be underestimated.

As a child I learned that the best way to avoid feeling like a failure was to do none of the things that my elder sister did. Clare was always more ambitious, more determined and more astute than I so, no matter what natural talent I displayed, if it was in one of her areas of interest, I would always be second best, because she was willing to work harder at it. In some ways it worked beautifully as I did well in the things I chose, in others it may well have backfired, after all Clare is a Dr. of Engineering and I am not anything specific, although writer is the tag I go by now. I think it may also have something to do with vision but that is another blog post altogether.

So my questions are: is sibling rivalry a good thing, a bad thing or a bit of both? and how does a mother help her children to channel their rivalry in a manner that both, or all, children benefit, if that is even possible?

At the moment the biggest issue I have with sibling rivalry is who got which toy first and the whole 'my Mummy' argument in which Shannon delights as it winds her little brother up no end. Despite the three and a half year age gap they are very close and play together well much of the time. As for the rest it drives me to drink (yes, a large glass of red at bed time) trying to persuade Shannon that at five years old she should know that two different coloured blocks of exactly the same dimensions are really not worth fighting over. Or should she? Perhaps I am unfair and should also admonish Jordan, at not yet 2, for caring which one he has.

I am sure that very little harm will come to their developing psychs fighting over lego, however, as they grow older those rivalries will change and I am not sure I will notice in time if one of them is applying my avoidance tactics and pretending that they care less. The downside to that tactic is that it is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy and the drive, ambition and character they both show now may grow dimmer in which ever of the two is the less dominant. Between you, me and cyber space, though I really dislike predicting how children will turn out as adults since they usually surprise even their greatest critics, I think that it will be Shannon who falls into her brother's shadow. I think her need to needle him is already a sign of her knowing that on some level. How do I help her to choose her own path without losing her self and her way in the process?

Perhaps I think too much.

1 comment:

Goose said...

This is very interesting...having spent so much time with you all, I used to observe the three of you quite a lot...My brothers and my sister and I all fought terribly when we were growing up...mmh, I think I will comment further on this later :)