Siblings without Rivalry: How This Book Came to Be (Intro)

[This is the first of a series of posts for A Living Family online Book Club on the book Siblings Without Rivalry, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Whether you are reading with us, have read the book already, or can’t get your hands on a copy, please join the discussion!] 

Consider the following (and please discuss in the comments):

According to the authors, the book Siblings Without Rivalrycame about after the chapter on siblings in their other book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, became too big for one chapter. Faber and Mazlish, learned from their work that siblings and rivalry were a hot button topic among the parents with whom they spoke. Thus, this book came into being, after further research.

Wondering how parents were “coping with this heavy responsiblity” of nurturing both children, that “the embattled siblings might one day see each other as a source of pleasure and support,” they asked the following questions:

  • Is there anything you do with your children that seems to help their relationship?
  • Is there anything you do that seems to make it worse?
  • Do you remember what your parents did that increased the hostility between you and your siblings?
  • Did they ever do anything that decreased the hostility?

Through their work, Faber and Mazlish came to believe that “we, as parents, can make a difference. We can either intensify the competition or reduce it. We can drive hostile feelings underground or allow them to be vented safely. We can accelerate the fighting or make cooperation possible. Our attitude and words have power. When the Battle of the Siblings begins, we need no longer feel frustrated, crazed, or helpless. Armed with new skills and new understanding, we can lead the rivals towards peace.”

FOR the BOOK CLUB
Please take some time to take notes or jot down your thoughts about the above questions. When you are ready (and willing), please share some of your thoughts here so that we may learn from each other, grow together and move forward, collectively, as mothers and fathers and caregivers.

***

NEXT UP: Brothers and Sisters–Past and Present

PAST POSTS:

6 responses to this post.

  1. I’m putting myself out there first and would love a vibrant discussion that we all can learn from. If you feel like it, share a sentence or two about yourself before diving in.

    I’m Sheila, of A Living Family. I have two children, one almost 3 yo girl (Nov. 3) and one almost 9 mo son. I am a younger sister to a brother that is 4 years and 5 grades older. I am a first generation American of East Indian parents. (I think this may be significant in this context, culturally.) I grew up in Kansas, which diminished and complicated the cultural factor somewhat. (Regardless, it defines who I am in many ways.)

    1. Is there anything you do with your children that seems to help their relationship?

    Sometimes I am able to keep myself from saying something; I might use my energy and nonverbal language instead or physically move. If both of us (my husband and I) do this, then it seems most effective.

    2. Is there anything you do that seems to make it worse?

    React too quickly and inappropriate to the situation. Be inconsistent. Not give my daughter (older) the time, space, attention, food, sleep, etc. that she needs.

    3. Do you remember what your parents did that increased the hostility between you and your siblings?

    Have double standards or no standard. (When my mom asked my brother to clean he would not do it. She would end up asking me to clean and be more upset if I chose not to.) Made my brother into the smart, successful one and me into the weird, athletic one. I also have never liked the way my mom says that we are supposed to love each other and be a certain way together. I think I mostly wanted love from him, and forcing him to love me was not where he wanted to be.

    4. Did they ever do anything that decreased the hostility?

    Let me play outside all day. (My brother was inside mostly, reading or doing who knows what.) Also, I’m trying to puzzle it out in my memory (which we all know is extremely subjective and wishy), but I think my parents at times left us to ourselves. Mind you, sometimes that meant I was stuffed in a closet. … so maybe that doesn’t belong with this question…

    Additional Thoughts:
    I am left wondering what my relationship with my brother might have been like if we had more space to figure things out on our own. We are not close, now, though there is a thread connected there somewhere. I value that I have a brother, but it’s not a relationship I pursue and maintain closely.

    I’m curious to hear other people’s experiences, folks who are close to their siblings and only children and all kinds of people.

    Thanks in advance for participating in A Living Family book club,
    sheila 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted by Katie L. on September 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I will start by introducing myself. I am Katie. I have a 4.5 year old and a 14 month old. I have a younger brother who is 3.5 years younger than me and 4 grades younger than me.

    1. Is there anything you do with your children that seems to help their relationship?
    We just started using one of the techniques in the later chapters that I really like doing. We set them up to beat the clock together instead of trying to beat each other. My 4.5 year old has really been liking contests lately and a few times I competed them against each other such as “who will get in the bath tub first.” Then I read the book and realized that this is horrible. Right now my 14 month old does not care but she eventually will. So now I say,” Do you think you can both get in the tub in under 1 minute?” This works just as well for my 4.5 year old and does not set one up to ‘fail.’

    2. Is there anything you do that seems to make it worse?
    I know there is but cannot think of anything now. Maybe I will figure it out by observing closely the next few days.

    3. Do you remember what your parents did that increased the hostility between you and your siblings?
    My brother and I are four grades apart. I am the older one and so he was dragged to many of my sporting events. By the time he had sporting events I was too busy or chose not to attend his. I think that if my parents had placed more emphasis on supporting my brother as a family he may have been less resentful (but I have never asked him this so this might be all in my head; I really should ask him this question! we are close enough that I can do that so I should). Also, I remember being not so nice to him and picking on him with words. I wish my parents would have figured out a way to prevent me from doing this. It always seemed to me that when I was growing up I didn’t appreciate my brother until I went to college and by that point he no longer appreciated me or cared to appreciate me (he was in high school at this time) and then it was too late. I wish my parents had figured out a way for me to value my brother more.

    4. Did they ever do anything that decreased the hostility?
    Not that I can remember. We did have some fun times playing together and I can remember some of those times.

    The bottom line is that I wish my brother and I currently had more fun together and were closer. We do count on each other (at least I count on him and I know he knows I am always there for him) but I would like an ease in our relationship that is not currently there.

    Thanks!

    Reply

  3. […] Book Club « Siblings without Rivalry: How This Book Came to Be (Intro) […]

    Reply

  4. This book was EXACTLY what I was looking for. In dealing with my two stepsons as well as my own two daughters, ranging in age from one to seven, I felt there HAD to be a way to prevent some of this fierce competitive and unkind nature between kids. I refused to believe there was nothing much we parents could do about it. The perspective it gave in how to treat the children each as individuals, without reference or comparison to their siblings in any way seemed obvious, yet for most of us parents, we do these things unconsciously in various daily situations. I began realizing how even the smallest comments, however well-intended, could induce rivalry between the kids and have found the ideas and suggestions in this book to be of immeasurable value to my family. In some areas, I do feel that it gets a little too extreme to be realistic, however, the main concept behind the advice and suggestions is very helpful.

    Reply

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