We’ve just acknowledged our moms for all that they do/did do for us. My mother has been dead for almost eight years, but I swear that she showed up last Sunday. She might have been pointing to her watch and informing me that it was a few minutes past noon and that she hadn’t yet gotten a “Happy Mother’s Day Call” from me. That wouldn’t surprise me!
But we siblings not only spent time considering the major role our moms played in our lives but also the ways in which they did (or did not) help foster good relationships with our brothers and sisters. (As an aside, I am sure my mother is still having conniption fits over the frosty connection between my brother and me. She so much wanted us to get along and remain in each other’s lives. That’s a subject I write about in The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives. Check it out at any online book site.)
It should be said that the distance between my brother and me had little, or nothing, to do with my mother and her parenting. At least, that’s not how I see it.
However, childhood is the time when siblings spend the most time together under the same roof. Moms (and fathers) are an important factor in how their children get along. Parents can help their children foster close, supportive relationships by:
- Allow children to settle their quarrels. Research has shown that the more parents intervene. the more siblings fight. When parents send their children to separate rooms, for example, they don’t learn how to make deals, to compromise. Quarreling can be quite healthy.
- Avoid the tendency to label one child as the “good” kid and another “bad.” The “bad” child always gets blamed for trouble, while the “good” child gets away with murder. This sets up a lot of anger for the “bad” child toward both his/her sibling(s) and parents.
- Honor the different temperaments of children. Temperamental differences can fuel fighting, particularly if at least one child is highly active or impulsive. It’s not unusual for parents to have trouble differentiating between who children are and how they behave. Often it is the difference in temperament that is especially annoying or particularly appealing. Yet few parents can admit that they may like one child more than another at any given time.
- Recognize that what affects one child usually affects the others. And what affects parents is usually passed on to their children, though, most likely in different ways.
So, as we move from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day and then to Sibling’s Day next March, let’s not wait for specific days on the calendar to celebrate family and to do all we can to foster close, supportive, and fun sibling relationships.