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My Kids Aren’t Friends, and I Won’t Force Them to Be

Whenever I tell people about the insane amount of fighting that goes on in my house, they brush it off, laugh, and say “sibling rivalry!”

Maybe.

hhlogoMaybe it’s normal, natural, even totally okay for siblings not to get along in their youth. Maybe it’s normal, natural, even totally okay for siblings NEVER to get along in their youth. I certainly didn’t get along with my brother growing up, but I sometimes wonder if that was normal, too. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t.

As a parent, I find “sibling rivalry” to be the most annoying, irritating thing I’ve ever had to deal with. More annoying than a fork being dragged across a plate. More cringe-worthy than teeth grinding together, or nails on a chalkboard. It’s the worst. Seriously. Most days, I’d rather sit in a vat of acid than listen to them fight over Legos one more time. It certainly gave me a whole new insight into why my mom was so f’ing crazy while I was growing up. Me and my brother were at each others throats constantly. I don’t actually even remember a single moment where we got along. My mom’s method was to punish us by telling us we’d better get along “or else”. “Or else” included all kinds of fun punishments from the loss of toys, and desserts, to groundings, to being sent to be without dinner. So, of course, we played together, but I think my mom’s method was flawed.

I don’t want to say it was wrong, because I know that when we get put in situations where we feel like we’re about to snap, we utilize whatever parental skill we can think up to make it stop as quickly as possible- and every kid reacts differently. But, in the long run, forcing me and my brother to play together backfired on her. Our fights went from verbal to physical. He broke my nose, I broke his finger, and it was all laughed off and called “Sibling rivalry”- but man, could it have been avoided?

Me and my brother didn’t get along until our twenties. There was a long period of time I thought we never would.

I wouldn’t call my kids mortal enemies, but they are not friends. They fight more than they get along. They argue more than they agree, and just like my mother before me, it’s driving me crazy. Really crazy. Like, wire hangers, putting them in a “get-along” t-shirt, making them hold hands all day kind of crazy.

At first, I went the same way as my mom. It seemed like the right thing to do. “YOU TWO STOP FIGHTING AND PLAY TOGETHER NICELY!” Reasonable, right? At first, it seemed to work, at least a little bit, but the older Holden got, the less he seemed to want to play with his little brother- and the older his little brother got, the MORE he wanted to play with Holden. It became clash of the titans up in this bitch. “PLAY TOGETHER NICELY” quickly turned into “JUST PLAY WITH YOUR BROTHER! GOOD GOD, MAN!” and the longer that went on, the less they enjoyed playing together. The more they fought, argued, complained, and banished each other from their rooms. I nearly took their damn doors off of the hinges. I’m still tempted to some days, honestly.

In a rare moment of clarity, I realized my tactic wasn’t working. It would probably never work. I should probably try something else, and so I did. I stopped. Completely. They didn’t “have” to play together anymore. If one wanted to be alone, I made sure that happened. Of course, I nipped their rudeness in the ass, and insisted if they didn’t want to play they should at least be polite about it, but there would be no more pushing from me. That mess was exhausting anyway.

The less I told them to play together, the more they wanted to. I didn’t have to force it on them, instead, I started having to force them apart as punishment (because, still, they constantly fight). Arguing with no resolve? You two don’t get to play together. Complaining non-stop? Banned from playing together. Crying or getting hurt? No more playing together. They might not like each other very much, but they sure hate to be apart now. …Most of the time.

They’re not friends. They might not be friends for a long time, but I’m thinking they’ll get there before their twenties, and hopefully before I’ve resorted to sticking them in a “get-along” t-shirt….. which I might do anyway, just because it’s hilarious.

Posted on July 31, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 2 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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2 Comments

  • divide and conquer

  • My dad used to punch walls and doors when my brother and I would fight. I think my brother should thank me. My father became an expert at re plastering his punch holes and later he plastered my brother’s house. He owes me!
    I just let my kids fight (sometimes I even give them boxing gloves 😄) because I don’t care to learn how to plaster.