ParentMap, October 2006 Issue
Feature: Sibling Rivalry - A Survival Guide
Ages & Stages:
Getting School Ready: Helping a child who is afraid to take risks
Giving Together: Hopelink: 35 years of helping families
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About this issue
While we live in a region mildly famous for the highest percentage of people who say they have no religion, bear with my little Sunday school lesson on siblings. The Hebrew Bible records egregious discord between siblings. Abraham’s two sons — Isaac and Ishmael — could not get along, and it’s alleged their disagreement formed the basis of the Middle East conflict today. The relationship between the next generation of Isaac’s two sons — Jacob and Esau — was so contentious that Esau repeatedly sought to kill Jacob. And the next generation of Jacob’s sons sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. We all know siblings who could match and exceed these historic pairs with dreadful behavior toward one another.
Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Menashe, were the first set of brothers who did not fight and represent a break from this pattern. The Jewish faith holds that parents following certain traditions bless their children today to be like Ephraim and Menashe.
Tortured as parents by the disharmony of our eldest two, my husband and I had our third child 15 years after our first — in part so our middle child would experience a different sibling relationship. Now, constantly adored and kissed by his little sister, “easy E” has a completely different sibling experience. The illustration of that love has inspired our eldest daughter to be more loving, and upgraded her relationships throughout the family. I have the extraordinary and atypical experience of having a twin sibling who is also my best friend (Friendship Ages and Stages). The daily gifts we exchange in simple conversation, understanding, twin perception and care could make your average cynic slightly nauseous. The “armor” my eldest daughter gave daily to toughen up our sweet middle child is perhaps a gift he did not need, but has come to love and appreciate.
Words of the Rolling Stones come to mind: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.” And we needed child #3.
—Alayne Sulkin, publisher/editor