The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sibling Rivalry...

One of the things I like least about becoming a parent for the second, third, fourth time is the Sibling Rivalry that rears it's ugly little head! It makes my baby a big boy (all three times), it makes a child that I left the house feeling was the most precious, gentle, adoring, adorable son in the world become the most passive-aggressive, jealous, mean-spirited, defiant little brat I have ever seen. Truly, adding a sibling seems to bring out the very worst of all my kids. The good news is, it only seems to happen once, so when Jack was displaced by Liam, he didn't feel the same level of angst when Connor came home and Meg, etc.

Connor definitely falls into that passive-aggressive category. I witness him walking past Meg, supposedly very innocently, and just "accidentally" knocking her down or stepping on her toe. The infractions are sometimes very subtle, but sometimes just very blatant, like today when he said, "Watch this mom" and then proceeded to hit her in the face with a sink plunger. Egad!

Not surprisingly, though probably a little late, I broke out the Siblings Without Rivalry book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish that has walked me through two other little misplaced toddlers to see what I could glean. I re-read what I consider to be one of the most enlightening exercises I have found regarding how siblings feel about one another and what brings out this "meanness." Following is a direct quote from the book:

"Imagine that your spouse puts an arm around you and says, "Honey, I love you so much, and you're so wonderful that I've decided to have another wife just like you." When the new wife (husband) finally arrives, you see that she's very young and kind of cute. When the three of you are out together, people say hello to you politely, but exclaim ecstatically over the newcomer. "Isn't she adorable! Hello sweetheart... You are precious!" Then they turn to you and ask, "How do you like the new wife?" The new wife needs clothing. Your husband goes into your closet, takes some of your sweaters and pants and gives them to her. When you protest, he points out that since you've put on a little weight, your clothes are too tight on you and will fit her perfectly. The new wife is maturing rapidly. Every day she seems smarter and more competent. One afternoon as you're struggling to figure out the directions on the new computer your husband bought you, she bursts into the room and says, "ooooh, can I use it? I know how." When you tell her she can't use it, she runs crying to your husband. Moments later she returns with him. Her face is tear-stained and he has his arm around her. He says to you, "What would be the harm in lettering her have a turn? Why can't you share?" One day you find your husband and the new wife lying on the bed together. He's tickling her and she's giggling. Suddenly the phone rings and he answers it. Afterwards he tells you that something important has come up and he must leave immediately. He asks you to stay home with the new wife, and make sure she's all right."

Isn't that the best! When you throw adoption into the mix, it means that you not only bring home a "cuter/younger" version, but you also bring home a child who's already mobile, already into all their stuff, already "behind" in their needs for your attention. Losing your place as the baby of the family is HARD enough to an infant (a.k.a. blob) who stays where mom leaves them, sleeps 16 hours a day, and can't bother you when you want to be left alone. But displace the baby with a child who needs to securely bond and all the implications that brings with it, along with the fact that this new little person is getting into all your favorite things. Your mom is a stress case because now she has to worry about your new siblings physical, motor, and emotional development and attachment while trying to keep your needs met and you have a recipe for an early afternoon cocktail, for sure! (For mommy, not new sibling or brother, of course! :) Anyway, this too shall pass, we hope. I only half joke when I say that Jack is still not over the fact he's not an only child. He would probably be perfectly happy to have one sibling... Meg. Liam and Connor are the best of buddies, those two I don't ever have to worry about, but Jack is constantly riding Liam even to this day. And we already heard the issues Connor has with his sister.

Well, if that doesn't make you want to run out and have a baby/adopt a toddler, I don't know what will! :) The only thing I can tell you is that the rewards, even in light of all this, for both you AND your older child are far greater than if there never was a sibling to rival. It's worth it, but boy, do I ever need a Savior!

Psalm 69:1-3
"Save me, O God, for the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters and a flood overflows me, I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait for my God."


Becky and Keith said...

Love the analogy to the 2nd wife. If anyone can conquer the sibling rivalry it WILL be you!

Lindsay said...

Thanks for this - will be looking for the book! I've been trying to find stuff that will help me understand what Hannah will be going thru when her sibling(s?) come home, and this one sounds ideal.

Poor Meg - a sink plunger!! :(

Michelle R said...

You have a Halleluiah! Aidan is the king of gently tappin Ana so she falls over, and when I am not looking-- sitting on her sometimes! How will she ever trust me? I am supposed to be showing her I will keep her safe, and I bring her home where she has to be on guard as soon as her brother gets home.

findingourdaughter said...


Antoine & Lori said...

LOL, we have similar issues. My goal is to teach the girls to mix the afternoon cocktail! We bought the book before we got home with Claire, and I have become a "you guys need to knock it off" expert. I had the hardest time not taking sides at first, but now that I've let that go (o.k. 65% of the time), life is considerably easier....