Thursday, November 13, 2003

New on Mothers with Attitude

Ken Swarner's latest entry in his Family Man column muses on the futility of trying to settle sibling rivalries. I'll admit that animosity between siblings has been a challenging part of parenting for me. Although I have a half-sister, she left for college shortly after I was born and so I was essentially an only child growing up. I longed to have close-in-age playmates under my roof and imagined how wonderful it would be to have sisters and brothers to bond with. And there certainly are times when my two bond nicely, playing with video games or Barbie minivans together as peaceful as you please. And then there are times when my daughter is so disgusted by the sight of her male sibling that she's forced to put her hand in front of her eyes, and times said sibling teases and taunts his sis in ways that, if he were a random schoolchild and not my own personal son, I would have to haul him in front of the principal and scream "Zero tolerance! Zero tolerance!"

And so I try to enact truces. I talk a lot about peace, love and understanding. I make the girl put down her hand and the boy watch his mouth. But as the Family Man knows, resistance is futile. I was reminded of that again this morning when my kids were getting ready for school. My daughter was mumbling something derogatory about her slowpoke bro, and he responded by getting right in her face and yelling "Loser, loser, loser!" I sent him straight to time-out with admonishments about not using mean words, and when he was done he went right back to her and, with the same aggressive attitude and vocal volume, yelled, "You're a winner!" She stalked off, still mumbling. Siblings will be siblings.

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