I’m an only child, and my parents rarely fought.
That means that I am completely alien to any kind of family discord. A sharp word is devastating. A disagreement is the end of the world. I have never had to fight for what I wanted with an equal. The only people at home were my parents and they outranked me so if I asked for something and the answer was no, well, that was the end of the matter.
It may have led to a peaceful childhood, but I’m not sure it did me any favours.
So I always knew that I wanted two kids, and Owl’s personality confirmed that before he turned two.
But I am dreading sibling rivalry.
PH is the youngest of 5 kids, so he probably won’t be horrified when the kids fight and hit each other and claim to hate each other, but I will. Such things simply NEVER HAPPENED IN MY HOUSE when I was growing up. They are not normal to me.
We did a lot to prepare Owl for the baby. We explained how babies were made when he asked, although we refused to give him a live demonstration despite his repeated and eager petitions to witness one. Instead we got him a book.
We explained carefully what babies are like. The baby won’t be able to play with you. It will cry and dirty its diaper and that’s about it. Murmel Murmel, by the way, is a great book for explaining what babies do and what they are for.
We explained the importance of being a big brother. One of my friends didn’t want to make her son into a second parent and placed a lot of weight on him NOT having to help, but we decided to go another way and tell him how important it was for him to help us and help her. He likes to help.
He was very pleased with the idea of having a baby sister and showed no signs of anxiety before she came, but I was still worried about how he would deal with the change. I braced myself for acting out, jealousy, all sorts of stuff.
Guys, he LOVES her.
In fact, his behavior has actually IMPROVED since she was born. He loves to hug her (unfortunately he grabs her head and squeezes so she doesn’t really appreciate his hugs) and coo over her and he will drop whatever he is doing rather than miss a chance to come upstairs with me and hand me a clean diaper when I change her.
He even tries to play with her. One of his favourite games is to pretend that one of her flailing fists has hit him. He then throws himself down on the bed as if she has just sent him flying.
Better yet, in the last month or so she has started noticing him and she loves him right back. When he is in the room she watches him and smiles, and sometimes she’ll just stare at him and chortle, and then he chortles back, and it is SO CUTE.
I know that she’s going to get bigger and start knocking over his block towers and messing up his stuff and she’s going to start pestering him and their dynamic will change.
But for now, they love each other and I am SO, SO, SO RELIEVED.
I also grew up in a crazy peaceful household where my parents never fought other than minor bickering which would send poor sensitive me right over the edge. But my brother and I also never really fought. We bickered sometimes and teased each other and sometimes I was a pain to him because I wanted his attention but we only had one physical fight which I won and that was that. We played well together as children and there was enough of a gap between us that after elementary we were never in the same school so we didn’t compete and eventually we ended up having a lot of the same interests and friends. Not all siblings have a lot of sibling rivalry and I hope Owl and Fritter are like that.
Me too! Sounds wonderful.
The majority of sibling conflict is often of the “I’m bored so I’m irritating you on purpose as my only plan of entertainment” variety. It’s annoying, but it doesn’t necessarily trigger any conflict avoidance (I had a sibling growing up, but I too am VERY conflict avoidant). The more serious aspects of sibling rivalry often take place under the surface. My daughter often tries to get me to say which of my children I love more (and of course I never cooperate with or fall for any of her schemes), and she gets very upset if she thinks her brother is intellectually patronizing her. So I keep my eye on that (I don’t want her to construct herself as the “dumb” one or think that she has to or cannot compete with her brother), but it very rarely comes out in the form of direct fighting.
Nicki Hunt said:
my 2 have a bigger age gap, 5 years, but they never really fought, the older one adores the younger, and the younger idolises the older, even now they are 19 & 24!!! That photo looks like Fritter adores Owl in much the same way, so you may well escape the worst, often the jealousy shows in the younger one more – after all they can’t do everything the older can 🙂 I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that peace continues to reign xx