Last month, while our family of four road tripped East, I took the opportunity to re-read Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This is a book that has been around for ages and road tripping happened to be a perfect way to refresh and put it into practice. Being in the car for hours gave us lots of time to talk through any disagreements, and the kids being buckled into their car seats kept them from getting *too* physical with each other! It gave us the opportunity to see the benefits of talking things through until everyone was satisfied with the outcome. Since my first time reading SWR, we’ve worked at accepting into our family that being angry at each other is just a normal thing that happens when people live in close quarters and that hurting each other won’t resolve an issue (even if the regulation skills aren’t always there).
While I made many, many highlights this time around, this read through left me with two main goals:
- Do not write my kids into roles.
I definitely think of my eldest as an academic and my youngest seems to me to be an empath. I’m planning to start keeping that more to myself. I’m also maintaining an awareness, thanks to SWR, that academics, because they seem to come so easily to my eldest, are in no way off limits to my youngest, and my eldest can still be emotionally aware. I’m still trying to figure out how to appreciate them and their uniqueness without imposing what I see as who they are. Hopefully, if I am listening, they will tell me who and how they want to be. And as the book points out, their siblings’ strengths, weaknesses and choices, have literally nothing to do with it!
- Trust my kids
This is something that I continually need to be mindful of. It is so easy to step in and help my kids solve disagreements. I always welcome the reminder that my kids are smart and capable people, able to independently resolve their own conflicts. And while they are sometimes annoyed in the moment—we all know that conflict resolution is hard!—working together seems, not only to strengthen their relationship, but also leaves them feeling empowered, walking a little taller, and seeming a little older.
This book, full of stories, gives examples of what not to say and what can be said instead so as not to pit your children against each other. It gives reminders of the value of allowing space for children to decide who they want to be, separate from their siblings. It is a quick and easy read and I would highly recommend it.