Subject: Siblings

From: Listener S 

Date: May 23, 2016


Here are some thoughts about siblings. Feel free to read, just keep me anonymous.

I was sitting thinking about siblings on Friday night. We were planning as a family to watch Star Wars and have popcorn. We told my son (age 9) to turn off his computer game, and a meltdown ensued -- screaming, insults, pushing. My husband and I lost our tempers. From the other room we heard our daughter (age 11) crying because she really wanted family movie night. This is typical of her experience as a sibling.

One impact is that I see more anxiety and vigilance in my daughter. She is very aware of my son's emotional state, and when it seems he is escalating, she gets concerned, and either comes to me or heads to her room. She can be the victim as her brother is escalating, maybe by a thrown elbow or a push. I do my best to stay vigilant as well so she is safe.

Another impact is disappointment. Like our disastrous family movie night, we often have to adjust or cut short family activities. Sometimes the plan has to go out the window. Also, events with lots of noise and people can be dicey. Sometimes they go well, sometimes not. This is hard on a sibling who looks forward to fun family time.

The rules are different for the two siblings. We need to let some things go for our son and not punish everything but focus on bigger picture issues -- making sure he stays stable, and being positive when he is able to pull himself out of a meltdown. For a sibling, she is left wondering -- why can't I get away with that?

But the one thing that doesn't change is that my daughter loves her brother. The other day she said, "Mom, he is so funny, you know, when he's not in one of those moods." She always gives him another chance because they are each other's favorite playmates.

Listener S.