So there I was, in a hospital bed, holding my brand-new baby girl, when hubbs brought our then 3-year-old son (N) in to meet his sister. N walked right over to us and said, “where’s my sister” and was less than impressed when he realized that his baby sister (E) really was a baby and wouldn’t be up running around with him anytime soon. I think that moment has pretty much defined the rest of their relationship…
They are now 13 and 10 and just cannot stop bickering. They don’t physically fight thank God, because E can hold her own and would probably beat the crap out of N, no matter how big he is getting. Spending time with either of them individually is great – they typically act the way they have been raised to behave. But put those two together and it’s like like Rocky and Apollo Creed, like Donald and Hillary, like Tupac and Biggie – it’s maddening. And I don’t know how to fix it.
- I’ve tried spending more one-on-one time with each of them and having their dad do the same.
- I try to make consequences for their actions as fair as can be (I try to keep my end goal – raise them to be good, well-rounded adults, as well as my more immediate goal – try not to breed resentment against their sibling in mind).
- I reward N for his good grades, helping around the house, etc. (he is more on track and cleans up after himself), but I refrain from comparing them to each other.
- I remind N (in private) that E has some diagnosed difficulties and although she can be challenging to be around sometimes, it shows what a great person he is when he accepts that and treats her right.
- I remind E all the time about all the things that make her wonderful and why I am so lucky to be her mom. I truly do try to tell her these things all the time but especially when I can see her getting frustrated.
- And I ALWAYS tell them when they are mad at me “I love you, even when I’m mad or you are mad at me,” because you just never know what the next moment is going to bring.
Here is an actual example of bickering from last night, while the three of us were playing Skipbo. There were 4 piles of cards lying in front of us, 3 of them had 8’s showing –
N: Wow, there’s triple 8’s
E: Double 8’s
E: I call it double
N: It’s triple, E! Mom, tell E its triple!
Me: Does it really matter? Somebody put down a 9
E: Double 8’s
N: (throws down cards) I’m not playing anymore if E’s going to mess around
Me: (looking at N) You are not quitting. Yes it is triple. E, it is triple, you know it’s triple and are just trying to annoy your brother. Knock it off.
E: Why can’t I call it double?
And then it was my turn and I had two 9’s so we no longer had a triple (thank God). But that is just a small taste of the constant, unnecessary bickering.
Will these kids ever grow out of it or am I destined to have two bickering adult-children?