Monday, May 23, 2011

Parent Therapy...I Need Help!

I spent the last few days in Georgia with some of my family.  We were celebrating the high school graduation of one of my nieces.

My middle brother and his wife have 3 kids, ages 20, 18 (the graduate) and 16.  I haven’t had the chance to spend extended time with my nieces and nephew in a few years.  One of the things that I noticed about them during this trip is that they get along SO well with each other!  To be honest, I was feeling pretty insecure about my own kids, so I said to my sister-in-law, “Please tell me that they used to fight with each other when they were my kids’ ages (14, 12, and 10).” 

She thought for a moment then said, “Actually, they didn’t.”   

‘Hmm,’ I thought.  “Okay, I don’t really mean ‘fight’.  What I really mean is more like ‘bicker’.  They did that, right?” 

“Ummm, no.  They really didn’t.  They’ve always gotten along really well.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking…she has just forgotten.  Everyone’s kids fight, or argue, or bicker, or whatever you want to label it.  Or, maybe she just doesn’t want to admit it…maybe she’s one of those moms that acts like her kids are perfect.  But I can tell you this.  I’ve known my sister-in-law for over 20 years and that is just not her personality.  She’s honest about the weaknesses of her children, along with their strengths.  She loves her children dearly (as does my brother), but neither of them are blind to the truth either. 

Then I came home to my kids…who really are awesome kids…but who do not get along nearly as well as my nieces and nephews do.  A few minutes after arriving home, I was looking through my son’s 8th grade yearbook with him, when his youngest sister asked if she could look it when we were done. 

If you had walked into the conversation at this point, you might have thought that his sister had just asked him to cut off his own arm.  He acted so 'put out' by the question.  I mean, how could she?  It is a ridiculous request when you think about it…that his younger sister would want to look at this book that means so much to him…that she might actually be interested in something pertaining to him…I mean, it’s ghastly, really.

Someone help me understand what is going on in his mind?  Help me, seriously.  When you have something you care about, and someone else shows interest in it, isn’t your first reaction to want to share it?  Aren’t you excited that someone else cares about it?  Don’t you want to show it off?

Why is this not true for my son with his little sister?  And, how should I handle it?  Do I force him to show it to her?  Do I try to talk to him about why he doesn’t want to show it to her?  Do I try to use reason and logic? 

Help?? Anyone???


  1. When you find the answer, please share. I have five and for the post part they get along fine but there is something about the one right after them. My oldest has5 years on the next due to one going to Heaven. I wonder what goes trough his mind sometimes. He is either wonderful to them all or constantly breaking boundries. Stuff like don't tickle me, he scared me when I opened the door. Such foolish stuff. I do think sometimes that the nicer and more repectful we are towards the kids the nicer they are to each other. It's not that we intentionally mean to be hurtful but we both grew up in homes where faults were seen more regularly than achievements. I get so fustrated at the sheer foolishness of some of the things they do and the questions and sometimes hurtful comments fly. I have never been one of those insiteful mothers and find myself quite often having to go back and fix where I messed up. Forgive if there are many errors in this post. I am on my phone because my laptop is down.

  2. Kim,
    You are not alone this happens a lot in our house! Drives me crazy!!! For us it comes down to the overflow of their heart. Are they looking out for their own self-intrests or the interests of others. He might have been thinking she might ruin it or lose it.
    A good book that has helped us work through similar situations is The Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp. It is gives spiritual and practical insights into our older kids and ourselves.
    I'll be praying for you all.

  3. All situations are different. But I can only suggest this -

    Make sure that each child has special things that they get to keep for themselves. They shouldn't be expected to share everything. This doesn't make them selfish, it just helps them respect the property of other people.

    I wouldn't make him show her. But I would gently ask his reasons why. Maybe there is some conflict between them that you can gently work out over time.

    Also, I wonder if his rude reaction to her request was simply because he couldn't think of a nice way to say "no."

    Conflict between siblings is the greatest opportunity for training good citizens. Mothers have the toughest job in the world! You are doing a great job, so please don't worry!

    Mrs. White