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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Growing up, I didn’t get along well with my brother. Two years younger than me, we were constantly competing for attention and the rivalry was pretty intense. Seriously intense. I hated him with passion, and it wasn’t until we were both out of the house and on our own that we made peace and became friends.

Having that much contention in the home is something both Hubby and I want very much to avoid, so we work very hard to encourage our boys to get along with each other. I was very pleasantly surprised when the younger ones were born at how wonderful the older ones were as brothers. For the past 7 years I’ve often wondered when the wars would begin.

For the most part, they haven’t. It may have something to do with the twin thing…everyone has an ally and each set has a mutual adversary. So we’re fairly well balanced. The older boys do get exasperated with the younger ones, and not a day goes by that they don’t all pick at each other. Boys are boys after all. What would life be if you didn’t kick your brother on your way past him?

It’s still difficult though. As humans, they’re much more likely to extend kindness and mercy to friends and strangers before their own brothers. We’re toughest on those we love, aren’t we? The older boys do not want to believe that a) they need to be forgiving of younger ones just because they’re younger; b) they acted just that same way at that age; and c) it’s completely appropriate for us to expect them to act better because they’re older. The younger boys don’t believe that they should give their older brothers space or time alone.

This morning, Captain Earthquake got pretty angry when The Mercenary didn’t want him around. He’d been pestering his older brother and was no longer welcome to play. I surprised him by saying that he’d earned the consequence. If he wanted to be around his brother, he was going to have to be nicer. Oooooo, he wasn’t pleased. He at least listened and calmed down, so that’s a hopeful sign.

Too bad The Mercenary didn’t hear me backing him up. He believes that I’m always on the younger boys’ side. Well, I guess we’ll just keep working. Any suggestions or experiences with your own kids in this area?

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who are STILL dealing with sibling rivalry.