When I was growing up, I always wished I’d had an older brother – or a twin sister. Being an only child, I had always envied people with a lot of brothers and sisters. It seemed like it would be fun to have other kids around to play with.
My mother grew up with an identical twin sister, three brothers, and another sister. “How wonderful that would be,” I thought, especially the twin part. I would love to have had someone to be that close to, then and now. Just about every kid I knew had siblings. And out of 16 grandchildren on my mother’s side, I was number 15, and the only “Only Child” in the bunch.
The idea of having siblings was a bit romanticized for me, since I had none. I would hear stories from my mom about how close she was to her sister, how she picked on her little brother, and how her big brother picked on her. Even though not every part of life associated with having siblings sounded positive, I still wish I could have had some of those experiences.
So when I became a mom, I didn’t want to just have one child. I wanted several kids, so they could grow up together, form close bonds, and have good relationships together when they were adults.
Being an only child, however, I was not exactly equipped with knowledge on how to parent multiple siblings. Since I didn’t have that bit of experience in my own travels, I had to learn on the fly.
I’ll admit, there were moments when I was tempted to throw my hands up in the air and say, “I’ve had it!” (Wait, I think I did that a couple of times!)
But there were other times when I had to chuckle under my breath, like when my daughter fussed at her little brother for making the river “dirty” by throwing rocks into it.
There were other times when I did not understand why one child felt or acted hostile toward the other. Sometimes I felt downright helpless over the attitudes these kids had for each other, and I wanted to fix it, but I didn’t know how.
So I asked some folks along the way for advice on handling different sibling issues, and I even figured a few things out on my own over time.
Of course, my husband had some insight, since he grew up with two brothers, but a lot of times I was on my own when dealing with my kids and their conflicts. We had girl issues and boy issues going on, and how to mix the two harmoniously. I had to be creative and resourceful.
I expressed my angst one day about the conflict between my two older kids to a friend. She then told me about a round she had with her older brother when they were kids. She said they got into it so much that he wound up chasing her around the house while wielding a golf club as a weapon. I had to laugh at that mental image.
“Wow!” I said. “How old were you?”
“Sixteen,” she replied, also laughing.
“Oh, my!” I responded. “What kind of relationship do you have now?”
“Oh, we’re best friends!” she assured me. “Don’t worry. They’ll come around.”
Hmm. Maybe there was hope after all.
Of course, there was, and thankfully at ages 24, 21 and 15, everyone has been getting along quite well for some time now. Even before the older kids moved on, while they were still teens, they were doing pretty well overall with getting along.
Now they refer to each other as “buddy,” they call and text each other pretty regularly, and they hug each other, say “I love you,” and buy each other Christmas presents. When they do, my heart melts.
So how do you do it? How do you get teenagers to get along and not hate each other, or at least not try to kill each other using the nearest piece of sports equipment?
That’s a tough one. All I can do is pass along some of the wisdom we accumulated from other people and from our own experiences and let you decide for yourself what might work for you and your kids.
Do you have teens who hate each other? Do they drive you nuts because of their bickering? Are you stressed and frustrated? Believe me, I get it. Be sure to click on the link above to get my tips on facilitating a peaceful relationship between your teens.
Also, please leave a comment in the section below and tell me your experiences, and what you’ve done. I would love to hear all about it.