Parents often cause of sibling jealousy

I’m concerned about sibling rivalry between my two daughters. What are the areas of potential conflict that should be handled with care?

Question: I’m concerned about sibling rivalry between my two daughters. What are the areas of potential conflict that should be handled with care?

Answer: There are three areas that are most delicate.

First, children are extremely sensitive about the matter of physical attractiveness and body characteristics.

It is highly inflammatory to commend one child at the expense of the other. Suppose, for example, that Sharon is permitted to hear the casual remark about her sister: “Betty is sure going to be a gorgeous girl.”

The very fact that Sharon was not mentioned will probably establish the two girls as rivals. If there is a significant difference in beauty between the two, you can be assured that Sharon has already concluded, “Yeah, I’m the ugly one.” When her fears are then confirmed by her parents, resentment and jealousy are generated.

Beauty is the most significant factor in the self-esteem of Western children.

Anything that a parent utters on this subject within the hearing of children should be screened carefully. It has the power to make brothers and sisters hate one another.

Second, the matter of intelligence is another sensitive nerve to be handled with care. It is not uncommon to hear parents say in front of their children, “I think the younger boy is actually brighter than his brother.”

Adults find it difficult to comprehend how powerful that kind of assessment can be in a child’s mind. Even when the comments are unplanned and are spoken routinely, they convey how a child is seen within his family. We are all vulnerable to that bit of evidence.

Third, children (and especially boys) are extremely competitive with regard to athletic abilities.

Those who are slower, weaker and less coordinated than their brothers are rarely able to accept “second best” with grace and dignity.

Consider, for example, the following note given to me by the mother of two boys. It was written by her nine-year-old son to his eight-year-old brother the evening after the younger child had beaten him in a race.

Dear Jim:

I am the greatest and your the badest. And I can beat everybody in a race and you can’t beat anybody in a race. I’m the smartest and your the dumbest. I’m the best sport player and your the badest sport player. And your also a hog. I can beat anybody up. And that’s the truth. And that’s the end of this story.

Yours truly,

Richard

This note is humorous to me because Richard’s motive was so poorly disguised.

He had been badly stung by his humiliation on the field of honor, so he came home and raised the battle flags. He will probably spend the next eight weeks looking for opportunities to fire torpedoes into Jim’s soft underbelly. Such is the nature of humankind.

Question: Can you give us a guideline for how much work children should be given to do?

Answer: There should be a healthy balance between work and play. Many farm children of the past had daily chores that made life pretty difficult.

Early in the morning and again after school they would feed the pigs, gather the eggs, milk the cows and bring in the wood.

Little time was left for fun, and childhood became a pretty drab experience. That was an extreme position, and I certainly don’t favor its return.

Contrast that workaday responsibility with some families today that require nothing of children — not even asking them to take out the trash, water the lawn or feed the cat.

Both extremes, as usual, are harmful to the child.

The logical middle ground can be found by giving a boy or girl an exposure to responsibility and work but preserving time for play and fun.

The amount of time devoted to each activity should vary with the age of the child, gradually requiring more work as he or she grows older.

James Dobson is founder and Chairman Emeritus of the nonprofit organization Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80995 (www.focusonthefamily.org).

Just Posted

Rural transit service rolled out

2A South Regional Transit will link Innisfail and Penhold with Red Deer

Some Red Deer waste collection schedules change due to holiday season

Tuesday collections will be moved for two weeks

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

Red Deer Airport’s prospects are looking up for 2019

Ultra-low-cost passenger service is on the horizon

Funding down for Red Deer Christmas charities

Food hampers and toys for children going out to those in need

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Most Read