Worst part about parenting, hands down: the fighting. The incessant, out-of-nowhere, nerve-shattering fighting.
I thought my life, in what seems now like a constant state of escalating bickering, would have prepared me for helping my own kids through their daily disagreements, but really? It hasn’t. Even Earl, at only 2, has really gotten in on the act. One slight and he’s screaming and charging and sometimes pounding on his sisters, who at 6 and 10 just kind of laugh at him.
Of all the parenting challenges, its the conflict between my three kids that I feel least equipped to deal with.
Which is why reading that sibling fights are a good thing was sort of uplifting.
Jeffrey Kluger, a senior writer at Time and author of the book, THE SIBLING EFFECT: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, is reassuring when he says fighting between brothers and sisters is normal. And not just that: it’s educational.
If it’s educational, then my kids are definitely earning extra credit.
Kluger writes that parents can help by giving kids some conflict resolution strategies and also by looking things from the kids’ point of view. The latter, in particular, is helpful for me in understanding why Earl can insist I share my toast with him and then turn around and refuse to let his sisters eat apple slices … from the serving bowl in the middle of the table! (All about powerlessness and possessions being the one thing in kids’ lives they are permitted to control.)
Kluger also points to studies that conclude kids are better off when allowed to resolve conflict on their own in most cases. And if you feel like you’re raising the Baldwin brothers, remember that studies show kids fight, on average, with their siblings ever 17 minutes. Why? Here’s what Kluger says: Children — by their age, nature, and lack of life experience — will always be domestic anarchists.
It won’t last forever. (Mercifully!)