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Old 04-11-2010, 01:56 PM   #1
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sibling rivalry

hi, there. my older sister is in town, and she said some things that are really bothering me. i have 2 daughters, one is 3 and the other is 6 months. we got on the topic of being sisters and how the older one feels when the little one comes. since i'm the youngest, i have no idea now big sisters feel about this. she made a comment that what would probably make my oldest daughter happiest would be to stab her younger sister in the heart! okay, she was probably exaggerating, but ugh, it just made me so mad. partly because that's probably how she felt about me and also because i think that my oldest genuinely likes her little sister. she maybe doesn't understand the drop in attention that she's getting lately, but she seems to understand that we all love each other and we try to spend as much time together as we can.

she also said that my oldest was "testing boundaries" when she was playing with her sister earlier. she was waving a teddy bear around her and making her laugh, then she hit her hand with the bear (but he's really soft, so it didn't hurt). it seemed like an accident to me or her just playing rough like she does with her friends, but my sister made it sound like she was trying to figure out just how much she could do to her sister before i got mad.

my sister and i get along okay, but there's (obviously) some lingering stuff from when we were kids. it's obviously this older/younger stuff, but i feel like it's all initiated by her. i could go into more details, but i won't bore you .

anyway, so do all older siblings feel this way? i feel like my sister thinks that, but maybe that's just her rationalizing why she felt that way toward me. any insight would be appreciated! thanks!

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Old 04-11-2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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Re: sibling rivalry

No, not all older siblings feel this way because we are all individuals. Your kids are unique in their own ways to so it is not fair to assume that your girls will feel about each other the way you two feel about each other. Let them grow their own relationship outside of what your relationship with your sister is. I have two girls similar ages as yours as they pretty much get along. There are times where there is some toy stealing and whatnot but that's what kids do. I am going to do what I can to help foster a loving relationship between the two. As for your sister's comment, it seems really overboard unless she just has a sick sense of humor all the time. You can't change how she feels about you. Be the bigger person and continue working towards a healthy relationship with her or create a healthy distance if you two really do clash on a lot of things.
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Old 04-11-2010, 02:18 PM   #3
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Re: sibling rivalry

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No, not all older siblings feel this way because we are all individuals. Your kids are unique in their own ways to so it is not fair to assume that your girls will feel about each other the way you two feel about each other. Let them grow their own relationship outside of what your relationship with your sister is. I have two girls similar ages as yours as they pretty much get along. There are times where there is some toy stealing and whatnot but that's what kids do. I am going to do what I can to help foster a loving relationship between the two. As for your sister's comment, it seems really overboard unless she just has a sick sense of humor all the time. You can't change how she feels about you. Be the bigger person and continue working towards a healthy relationship with her or create a healthy distance if you two really do clash on a lot of things.
ITA. I have 2 dd's that are close in age and they do have days that they fight but for the most part I think that they have a good relationship. It's not fair to say that your girls are going to feel the same way your older sister feels about you. The best you can do with your sister is try to get along with her and if you find that you can't then maybe just create some distance between you two.
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:47 PM   #4
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Re: sibling rivalry

thanks for the responses. yeah, she does kind of have a sick sense of humor, i guess. but i think the sentiment still stinks. i'll just let it roll off my back. i think it's funny that she doesn't see us that much, but she seems to think she knows us so well that she can make judgements.
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Old 04-12-2010, 01:13 PM   #5
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Re: sibling rivalry

Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish is an awesome book if you are worried about your daughters developing an unhealthy relationship. Your older sister sounds like someone to avoid.
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:29 PM   #6
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Re: sibling rivalry

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Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish is an awesome book if you are worried about your daughters developing an unhealthy relationship. Your older sister sounds like someone to avoid.
i don't really want to do that. in the past year she's gone through divorce and infertility, so she's having a rough time.
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Old 04-12-2010, 02:53 PM   #7
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Re: sibling rivalry

Being the older sibling is both super frustrating and incredibly awesome.

I'm not going to lie - there were times when my brother and I really did nearly kill each other, though not so much on purpose but more as a way of winning the argument. (We tended to fight in the swimming pool. I grew up in AZ, and summer vacations were too hot not to spend most of them in the water.) I didn't love him one iota less (still don't) but sometimes he could be so frustrating. Especially if it was something he wanted to do but hadn't mastered, like juggling, algebra, or underwater somersaults. I'm actually not sure anymore how much of the physical fighting my brother remembers - being older, I grew out of it first. Because I would no longer engage, Steve had to quit much younger than I did.

I don't know your situation, but possibly your sister is trying to jokingly refer to similar sibling squabbles that maybe you had but don't really remember? I'm frequently amazed by the things my brother swears he doesn't remember. Anyway, if she's got something of a black sense of humor, I would not take it to heart. To me it sounds like it might be sarcasm aimed at herself, not at you or your kids...

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Old 04-12-2010, 04:05 PM   #8
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Re: sibling rivalry

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i don't really want to do that. in the past year she's gone through divorce and infertility, so she's having a rough time.
By all means, spend time with her, if you can protect yourself and your family from putting you into roles you don't like. You didn't really give a lot of detail and stabbing you in the heart is a pretty extreme way of characterizing sibling rivalry (especially with such young children). If she's going through a lot right now, that just might be the way she talks to deal with her own pain.

I've got another book rec for you for dealing with her (can you tell I'm bad at summarizing what I mean to say briefly? I end up being terse instead of clear whenever I write in forums.): Dealing with People You Can't Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at their Worst by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner. Don't be put off by the title. It could really be called dealing with the 10 most annoying behaviors people use to try to get what they want, but that wouldn't sell many books. They describe 10 stereotypes and explain what is behind that person's behavior and how to give them what they want (at least a little of it), so you can get what you want.

Ex.: My father-in-law is a perfect "thinks-he-knows-it-all" who gives advice for everything regardless of how much he knows about the subject or how welcome his advice is. What he is after is appreciation, but he goes about getting it in the worst way. Telling me that I should get a maid and that the garden needs tending doesn't really put me in the mood for saying "thank you." But what I have learned is that my FIL will actually stop giving me advice if I say that- "Thank you for being so concerned about us." Amazing. There are, of course, different strategies for different annoyances. The Whiner needs to be treated differently than The Tank. You might be able to get a copy at the library (both books, since they are bestsellers and older).
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Old 04-13-2010, 08:58 AM   #9
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Re: sibling rivalry

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Originally Posted by Ami in Deutschland View Post
By all means, spend time with her, if you can protect yourself and your family from putting you into roles you don't like. You didn't really give a lot of detail and stabbing you in the heart is a pretty extreme way of characterizing sibling rivalry (especially with such young children). If she's going through a lot right now, that just might be the way she talks to deal with her own pain.

I've got another book rec for you for dealing with her (can you tell I'm bad at summarizing what I mean to say briefly? I end up being terse instead of clear whenever I write in forums.): Dealing with People You Can't Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at their Worst by Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner. Don't be put off by the title. It could really be called dealing with the 10 most annoying behaviors people use to try to get what they want, but that wouldn't sell many books. They describe 10 stereotypes and explain what is behind that person's behavior and how to give them what they want (at least a little of it), so you can get what you want.

Ex.: My father-in-law is a perfect "thinks-he-knows-it-all" who gives advice for everything regardless of how much he knows about the subject or how welcome his advice is. What he is after is appreciation, but he goes about getting it in the worst way. Telling me that I should get a maid and that the garden needs tending doesn't really put me in the mood for saying "thank you." But what I have learned is that my FIL will actually stop giving me advice if I say that- "Thank you for being so concerned about us." Amazing. There are, of course, different strategies for different annoyances. The Whiner needs to be treated differently than The Tank. You might be able to get a copy at the library (both books, since they are bestsellers and older).
thanks for the recommendation. i'll have to give that a try.
she left today, but i realize that i'm acting sort of strangely around my kids. i know what you mean about her "putting you into roles you don't like". hopefully things can go back to normal soon...we really are a happy family, and my 3 year-old is a good kid, despite the fact that my sister said i'd turn her into a "monster child" because i changed my mind about letting her wear her pj's outside in the back yard. sorry, i had to get that one off my chest, too .
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:13 PM   #10
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Re: sibling rivalry

I think it's a good idea to keep an eye on your DDs' relationship. My younger sister and I were brushed off by my parents, with the result that I hated her throughout a lot of our childhood, and we still don't get along. I think we both were damaged by family dynamics. We even tried therapy.... All of which is to say a stitch in time saves nine. Be well aware of how they each might be feeling, read up, and be conscious of what you and your sister are modeling for them. This is what I'm trying to do for my daughters, anyway.
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