Sibling rivalry is as old as the two sons of Adam A.S., Habeel and Qabeel. And that resulted in the first ever murder committed in history. In Surah Yusuf, mention is made of the emotions relating to sibling rivalry.
One of the worst things that can happen to any parent is finding their child becoming rivals as adults. A parent has to play referee his/her entire life. When the grandkids come it gets even worst. Before we go any further, let us first look at what exactly is sibling rivalry.
Sibling rivalry can be defined as competitiveness (sometimes tempered with animosity), between siblings for the attention, affection and approval of their parents. While the parents cannot be blamed in every situation, experts tell us that parents, unknowingly, are the cause of many rivalries. ‘Unknowingly’ is the key word here. Many of us might be creating rivalries between our children without even knowing it. That is why this week, inshaAllah, we will be looking at how we as parents can avoid creating sibling rivalry.
How Parents Can Avoid Creating Sibling Rivalry
1. Stop Comparing Children
There are surely families out there with kids who are all equally obedient and pleasant. And it’s just as likely that there are families in which all the kids are terrors. But most of the siblings we know fall into a classic dynamic: the good kid and the one who is harder to deal with. He’s not a bad kid, he’s just way more often a pain in the neck. As parents, most of us experienced it.
One will head straight for the coats when we say it’s time to get dressed; the other will ask why we even have to go visiting. One will eat a supper he doesn’t particularly like without complaint; the other will whine for something else. As a result, we always end up saying this in moments of exasperated frustration, and it never does anyone any good: “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” (Or sister)
What do we think? That the kid is going to hear that, pause for reflection, and say, “You’re right. I should choose my brother who sucks up to everything as my role model.”
Notice the resentment? That’s what happens when we compare siblings. We think it’s a motivator, but of course it’s completely the opposite. We should never ever compare. It simply never works, and the message that’s received by the child is, ‘I’m not good enough.’
The kid will take that darkness and see his sibling as its source. Once that happens, we’ll have to listen to the one who’s hard to deal with give us a rundown of all the do-gooder’s faults. And the “good” kid will go out of his way to act like the golden child just to get under his brother’s skin. And that’s not how we want our kids to relate to each other. We want them to have each other’s backs, not sizing up one another’s faults in competition for our approval.
It gets worst when they become adults because now the comparison is between jobs, houses, vacations etc., and as parents we have to play referee. Once there is rivalry amongst adults, it is very difficult to stop.
Any time we want to compare one of our kids to another, we need to stop. Whatever the issue, we have to treat our children as unique individuals.