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Sibling Showdowns: The Way I See It

Posted by Jen on February 18, 2009 at 7:00 AM in JenSiblings
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how they really are

As I write this entry, my dear children are having a vigorous debate where Child A is asserting the logic of another child's actions while Child B is deeply mired in the emotional content of the incident in question. I'm not sure either kid is making any sense to the other but the intensity to the disagreement is making me wish I could make a backdoor exit to the nearest coffee shop.

I've been practicing staying out of these kinds of fights lately, since the conflict centers mostly around fundamental differences in how each child views the world. Child A sees most problems through the lens of choices and consequences, while Child B prefers to examine perceived intentions and emotional impact. If I choose to engage, I'll be saying more about my own preferences than the truth of the matter. Fact is, there's no problem on this earth that can't stand to be examined from a variety of angles. Our best solutions come when we consider love and logic, facts and feelings. Or so my better self tells me when all I want to do is lay down the law and institute my point of view as the-way-it-really-is, no questions asked.

So I bite my tongue and listen as each child educates the other on their own particular point of view. Ten tortuous minutes later, the exchange sounds something like this:

Child A: I'm just saying that I don't think it's fair for you to be angry especially when he wasn't choosing to hurt you. Didn't he already apologize a hundred times?
Child B: You mean you think I should forgive him?
Child A: Yes, I do.

Child A then went on to support the forgiveness argument with data I found more than a little sketchy, but Child B was satisfied. Child C was forgiven and the argument came to a natural conclusion. End of discussion.

Next up for the future conflict mediator and her boundary savvy little brother: Whether you can say you believe in Jesus and still think he's dead. I think I'll skip that Starbucks now and go straight upstairs and take a nap.

What's your stance on sibling disagreements? Do you step in? Stay out? Send yourself to your room as soon as possible? I'd love to hear what your personal rules of engagement are in the comments below.


Carrie writes...

Haven't had to deal with this yet myself (but see a lot of years of this ahead of me, with kids 21 months apart..) But I have such vivid memories of having "discussions" with my brother and being told by my mom not to fight. And we weren't fighting, just talking! :)

Patience writes...

It depends, but I can't stand the fighting so sometimes I step in but I always have the feeling like I should stay out of it...

I hated as a kid when mom made us go into our room until we figured it out but we almost always did...and then we were both mad at her. It was genius on her part!

Maggie writes...

What a great post! Sibling Rivalry is one of the oldest forms of conflict. Love and Logic has a new PBS special on this topic. It features Dr. Charles Fay and is called "How to Make the Best of Sibling Rivalry." Call your local PBS station to request it. It has already aired on WPBA and WGNU in Michigan and will air in KPTS in Kansas next month. I think you would really enjoy it!

Libby writes...

Haven't had to deal with this issue yet as my two children are 5 and 2. I do notice, however, that the further I stay away from their play the better able they are to play nicely together in the first place, and resolve their issues without needing my interference.

VMama writes...

So tricky! I found the book "Siblings Without Rivalry" to be so helpful. The authors general vote for staying out of the way but finding ways to let the siblings work things out for themselves in healthy ways.

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