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A Lesson in Parenting

2014 May 26


I really want my kids to get along.

I don’t just mean the basics: play nicely with each other, share, don’t rip each others’ hair out.

I mean really be friends. Grow old together. Have each others’ back when no one else will.

We encourage them to play together even though they are three years apart and different genders. We encourage them to say “I love you.” We encourage them to help each other before we step in to help.

And the other night, in an effort to make them closer, we separated them entirely.

I took Little D for a girls’ night sleepover at my mom’s empty house while my husband stayed home with Kai. The idea came about because we felt like Kai was getting a lot of the attention around here lately – good and bad – because parenting him is decidedly more all-encompassing than parenting D.

She is vanilla, he is rocky road. She says yes, he says no. She says please, he says why.

We felt like she was spending a lot of her time giving in to Kai’s demands to avoid a meltdown, watching him getting reprimanded and getting the short end of the big sister stick.

So she and I packed our bags – much to his momentary chagrin – and spent a quiet evening together eating pizza (will post another 30 Clean update later in the week), watching Frozen (obviously) and sharing a big old bed piled high with down pillows and our favorite stuffed animals.

She got to talk and talk without being interrupted. She got to choose her favorite dessert. She got to sleep in. She didn’t have to share a thing. And in turn, she was a slightly different little girl. She had no frustrations, she was carefree, maybe a little selfish (well-deserved) and looked like she was on a much-needed vacation.

By the next morning? She was a little bored. She missed her playmate, her best friend, someone to sing those Frozen songs with who actually knew the words.

So we headed home.

Her brother awaited her with open arms.

“How was your girls’ night??” he asked.

“Great!” she said. “How was your boys’ night?”

“Great!” he said.

And off they went, running up the stairs two at a time.

Really getting along.

They were fighting again by that afternoon. The sleepover didn’t make the usual challenges of young sibling-hood magically disappear.

But I do believe that in pulling them apart, we helped them get a little closer.

If even for just one day. For just a few hours.

And we will definitely do it again.

4 Responses
  1. Jennifer permalink
    May 26, 2014

    My brother and I are 3.5 years apart and growing up we fought. A lot. It was probably the ongoing battle of me “parenting” him, a little mars. vs. venus and then the general sibling struggle. The good news is I now consider him to be one of my best friends. He is an awesome uncle and brother. The bad news (or some might call it the reality) is that this didn’t happen until we were adults. Like 20-something adults. It didn’t happen until we both paved our own ways and came into our own and once we both accepted each other for exactly who we were (ie we came from the same parents but we were different people). There wasn’t some “ah-ha” moment or family tragedy that triggered it- it just happened. It will happen with K & D. Just give them time. But be prepared it might not happen until they toast each other on their 21st birthday 😉

  2. May 26, 2014

    I have the exact same story as Jennifer. My sister and I are 3.75 years apart and never got along until I went away to university. I applaud your parenting effort though, and if anything, having a special night with your daughter will be a sweet memory for her and hopefully the start of a nice tradition. One day they will get along…one day.

  3. May 27, 2014

    This is fantastic! We have twin boys and we will spend time with them separately, so they aren’t vying for attention or in some cases, giving over a lot of attention as you indicate. We’ll also spend time just with our daughter as she was an only child for 8 years and it’s nice to have “the original family” back for a little while. Please don’t read into that. To us the statement is a joke. We tease our daughter that the boys birthday is “The day Phoebe’s life changed forever!” She loves them as much as she dislikes not having Mommy and Daddy’s complete attention the way she used to.

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