Siblings is an immense theme of parenthood, rarely experienced with serenity. Between our own history, our projections and social aspirations, it is an explosive subject, full of guilt and the impression of incompetence. Let's try to see more clearly.
Adding a family member is a huge challenge. We all dream of the harmonious family, and in secret, we hope to do better than our own siblings. As we know, this is a sensitive subject, sometimes even painful. So obviously, when we are confronted with reality, it is not easy to welcome our emotions which are often ambivalent.
The duality is total. We always feel torn, and that's normal. Wanting to offer as much to the youngest, but moping about not being able to give what the eldest already had. Lack of time, adaptation, fatigue… Parents generally suffer from the “acute fairness” syndrome. They want to give as much and above all to be as fair as possible. Surely that would be the definition of a good parent: giving so much to each of our children.
Now children, according to their age, theirphases and their temperament, do not always have the same needs. This is clearly food for thought because giving fairly does not mean giving as much or the same, at the same time.
We are also discovering that, despite having a fairly similar upbringing, our children do not react in the same way. It is therefore important to reconsider our relationship to facilitate relationships between family members and above all, to observe our children; meeting their needs involves meeting what the child (really) needs – not what we imagine their needs to be. Staying tuned remains the best strategy to reduce our guilt, and above all to give us confidence in our competence as parents.
Unfortunately we have a lot of expectations as a parent. Siblings are a central subject and it regularly generates disappointment and frustration. If siblings get along, we kind of receive that as a success in our upbringing. It is extremely valued socially: the happy family that gets along, shares and loves each other. We expect seniors to take a lot on themselves because they are the big ones, the reasonable ones. From the little ones we would like them to collaborate and understand quickly so that we can quickly interact with the older ones and find harmony, the ultimate goal, as soon as possible.
The family is a micro society and it is normal to encounter disagreements, conflicts. It is also partof children's learning and development. Sharing space, time, care, attention is a long-term job and the more we are aware of the difficulties without denying them, the easier it will be to welcome the emotions of our children, and our own. ! This awakens in us memories of our childhood, our own siblings, our place in the family, the management of conflicts, certain wounds, certain irritants or difficult to reach desires.
Having conflicts, experiencing conflicts, it's more than normal! We have the annoying tendency to pose as arbiter between the conflicts of our children since we aim for harmony.
I have observed, time and time again, that the less we meddle in their affairs, the more they use strategies and compromises to coexist and find consensus. Everyone must find their place and define their affinities. It takes trial… and patience. Many issues are brought forward by siblings; it is an excellent playground and learning ground because children are confronted with the needs of communication (naming their needs, among others) and flexibility.
We are guides and it is important to stay on the periphery before intervening too quickly. It is important to trust our children and the values we transmit to them every day.
We would like to protect our children from pain, injustice or injury, it is our noble mission and, within the walls of thefamily, they are accompanied. We can adjust and readjust.
Behind the arguments, there are unmet needs. If you can take time with one child at a time to bring the balance back, it will lessen the crises during the more sensitive phases. Giving a lot of love to someone who is causing trouble is also a way of reminding him that he is loved and that he has his place because he ends up doubting it. Allowing each of the children to express their emotions, their feelings of injustice and their feelings will increase their confidence in you, so they will no longer feel threatened.
For everyone to be able to preserve their space, it seems to me necessary that there are places, toys for everyone, that we can keep for ourselves. We can also have common spaces and toys, which we can share when we are in the mood to do so. But allowing children to retreat to their own space will reassure them when they feel overwhelmed and a little overwhelmed by all the commotion around.
Siblings is an adventure that fluctuates, so even if some phases are difficult, it is possible to change the energy to start again on a he althier basis. Taking a step back remains the winning strategy.
- Brother-Sister Relations: From Conflict to Meetingby Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer
- Brothers and Sisters Without Rivalryby Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish