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.”

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


Choosing a Midwife: Questions to Ask a (Homebirth) Midwife

Many folks know they want a midwife, but then wonder: How do I choose a (homebirth) midwife?

Midwives come with equipment!

There are many resources available to give folks an idea of their ideal list of questions to ask a midwife. Take a little from here, a little from there–whatever works for you and perhaps a few that push your boundaries, too. Get yourself a list of midwives in the area. Throw names on there even if you think they may not work out, because you never know. (Caveat: Philosophy that doesn’t match your needs *is* a read flag, however. If you want a natural birth and the site has several photos and lines boasting of facilities for monitoring or administering drugs you probably want to keep that one off the list.)

TIP: Don’t simply judge from the photo on the site!

You may think you want the young, hip looking midwife. What you may need is the older, frumpier midwife. You might think you want a quiet and reserved midwife, but you may find yourself feeling more safe and open with the more assertive and “tell you straight without the sugar” kind of midwife. You won’t know till you know.

My midwife, looking on after the homebirth of my first.

The process of finding a midwife is one you can revel in and use fully for the opportunity it presents. This is not only about finding a midwife, but also about finding out who you are and who you are becoming. These first glimpses and impressions, if we can draw our awareness to them while withholding judgment, provide some of the first insights into the powerful voice of inner wisdom that we have access to during labor and birth.

These fleeting and seemingly insignificant details — that drop I felt in my stomach or heart when they ____, the relief that washed over me when she ____, the nagging doubt or off feeling in the back of my mind (or heart?) — these are important pieces of information.

Newborn checks, when I was ready and after 2 hr delayed cord cutting.

To provide some context in which to feel out your care provider — your prospective (homebirth) midwife — I wanted to get some resources together with questions you might ask. Get together your own list or use any of the lists if you like them that much.

There is no question that is too much. No question too “stupid,” or “personal,” or “picky,” or “annoying.” If you have a question or even think you might have a question in the future, or maybe someone else has posed the question to you, put it on the list.

Here’s the absolutely shortest list I feel reveals some important but sometimes elusive information about your prospective care provider:

1. What is your philosophy of birth?
2. How do you see your role prenatally, at the birth, and postnatally?

3. In your view, how important is it to do invasive interventions such as vaginal exams prenatally or in labor, cervical checks in labor, or ultrasounds throughout pregnancy?


(Because many parents I meet worry that they might die at home because of this or that reason (personal to them) and for many of the cases midwives practicing a midwifery model of care are capable of managing effectively to get to a hospital in a non-emergency transfer or to make the issue of transfer of any kind inapplicable in the first place through prevention, awareness, attentiveness or equipment.)

What tools, approach and equipment do you bring to moments when things go wrong such as hemorrhaging, cord prolapse, meconium in the waters, 4th degree tearing, or some life-threatening event?

Add-on for VBAC/HBAC:

(Because more and more mothers, and fathers, are making decisions about vaginal birth after cesarean section. And because there are so many scare tactics used for these families and choosing your care provider is key to actively and effectively pursuing V/HBAC.)

How do you handle vaginal (home) births after cesarean [V/HBAC] differently than other (home) births?

One Final Add-on:

(Because this may tell you some of what they know and have access to for natural means of this and that thing.)

[Specific] If I needed to induce labor, what natural means could you help me use? OR  [General] What alternative methods (to epidural, say) do you offer for various aspects of birth such as pain management or labor relief?

My son’s homebirth was the first homebirth for the 3 mo daughter of my midwife. (Also my midwife for my daughter’s birth, shown here bouncing baby…)


Related Posts: 

Sensory Play: Dropped Egg Turned Useful

Here’s What Happened:

I had a dropped egg that I had scooped up but didn’t get to the dogs. The next day my daughter poked the perfect yolk. We noticed that it ran….

That’s how it began….

Unique texture…

How does it feel? “Fwishy!”

The runniness of egg…

“It’s rubby!”

Egg moves in a funny way…..

Adding a bit of water to see what happens….

Adding water to see what happens….

“Hey! It’s not…it’s not as rubby! It’s…watering!…..It’s watery!”

“Let’s add more water!

Babyled Weaning: How Does a Baby Eat Whole Fruit? (Photo Series)

Siblings without Rivalry: (Online) Book Club

In their book, Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too, authors Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish share insights and direction for parents who have or are expecting to have more than one child.

These are the same authors who wrote How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, a valuable tome for parents and teachers on communicating clearly, kindly and compassionately. I read that book as a teacher before becoming a mother. (They also wrote How To Talk So Kids Can LearnSince then, I have learned more about Nonviolent Communication (as shared by Marshall B. Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication). I have learned more about respectful parenting, positive discipline and motherhood in general.

Despite all I have learned and the ways in which I’ve grown as a mother and a person, I still find myself struggling at times when it comes to tandem nurturing. Despite watching birth videos for siblings in preparation for my son’s homebirth in which my 2 yo daughter was my main birth support, I realize I did not prepare, my child or myself, well enough for the actual addition of a sibling. I have already shared about the nose obsession that turned into a nose-touching issue with baby boy. Even though that has died down a bit, I continue to need support and wisdom to be a better mother to my two children.

Time for Siblings Without Rivalry.

I look forward to learning more specifically how I might think of my children’s interactions and how I might support their relationship growing into one that is loving and respectful if not close and confiding. I also want to know how I can apply all that I know already in a more effective way with two children.

What about you? Want to join me for an online book club exchange on the topic of siblings and parenting multiples? What would you like to learn from reading Siblings Without Rivalry?

[Weekly posts (chapter a week) for A Living Family online Book Club of Siblings Without Rivalry will start in September. ]

Another Climbing Incident: Why Don’t We Let Boys Be…Not Boys, but Human

I’ve already explained in my climbing/trust post how, as a rule, I let my daughter climb and don’t help her down or up when climbing.

Well, today my daughter easily climbed up a big, fake mountain of rock, easily the height of that scary merry-go-round tree structure from my experience explained in that earlier post. At the top, she sat for while. I noticed that after the initial “I’m at the top” face, came a look down and a “I don’t want to get down” face. She said as much to me when she said “Help me get down!”

Now don’t you know some other little girl, a few years older at about 5 or so, climbed up and sat next to her and also was afraid to come down. Her family members were going to climb up there when they heard me tell my daughter, “I know you may be feeling scared, but if you got up there then you need to come down on your own.” The little girl’s help climbed down and said, “She’s right. You can climb down on your own. You need to figure it out.” So the little girl’s grandmother directed her what to do and where to go, and down came the little girl, leaving my daughter sitting there by herself.

“Help me!” came her shout as I wavered inside but not outside. “It is important that you get down on your own, my love. Trust your body. It knows what to do.” She started to get down, instinctively turning around and scrunching her body so she was more balanced. She stopped her descent and went back to sitting.

I saw her up there, looking more scared, so I said, “Sometimes climbing down can feel scary, huh? What can we do when we’re feeling scared?” She looked at me for a minute. “Are you breathing?” I asked. She nodded, calming herself down.

I told her she could take her shoes off if she felt that would help. She did. It did help.

After gathering her breath and her bravery, she ended up turning around and climbing down with some guidance from me about possible options when she got stuck or was headed towards a place with a big drop and no footholds.

When she got down, her face beamed with relief and pride. “I did it!” she said to me, more than once. This was clearly a feat for her. She had conquered her fear.

Not much later, though, came a boy, older than both girls, who climbed up less than halfway and stalled. An adult male he knew had climbed to the top and others were down on the ground. He began to doubt himself and expressed that. The man from above began taunting him about how this girl (another girl had climbed to the top in the meantime) could climb up and why couldn’t he do it. The boy continued to hold on, growing in fear. The other males said common phrases like “Be tough” told him to stop being scared. The little boy finally lost it and was crying in complete fear begging for someone to help him down. One of the adults (his dad?) picked him off of the “mountain” and put him down.

The whole event struck me. First, my daughter, who had just climbed this thing, was watching intently with a puzzled look on her face. Second, it was clear to me that this boy had every capability of climbing up and back down on his own. Finally, I felt saddened that this boy had his gender thrown in his face (and girls backhandedly complimented/insulted), his feelings denied and his potential to have a similar experience to my daughter’s (that pride, that relief) thwarted.

I can’t say what this boy needed in that moment, but I do believe he needed some support and care and, more than anything, empathy. I don’t think there is anything special about my daughter, but I have worked to give her the space to learn about her body and her mind and what they can do.

We are powerful beings, capable of great things no matter how big or small. We can only know that inasmuch as we have space to learn that for ourselves. Other people can work hard to build us up, but only we can truly put ourselves at the top….

My 2.5 yo daughter: The Climber

I Stink, Too, and I’ve Got to Do Something (Natural) about It….

When I was pregnant with my son, I noticed that my hormones were out of control….and so was my stench. Happily, CodeNameMama wrote a post on the very thing called “I Stink.” I thought, well this sucks, but I guess it will be over after the baby comes.

Well, as too many unfortunate people can attest, it has not gone away.

What I have noticed since having my son, even though it’s only been 8 months, is that I am most likely forever changed. It could simply be awareness, but I cannot eat wheat and sugar and drink caffeine the way I used to. Even (cow) dairy seems to be a possible trigger. (Sugars?)

Whatever it is, at times I am left feeling embarrassed and horrible for all the people in my community and out and about that have to deal with me and my stench. (My family can deal, but still….)

Over the years, I have tried all the natural deodorants on the market that don’t stink to high heaven themselves (like that Kansas coming out in me?). I have found temporary success with tea tree or lavender oils or baking soda, but nothing lasts. When it’s 100 degrees (which it seems it’s been all summer), I come out of the shower smelling.

Now, one caveat here is that in addition to wanting to address this smell of mine, for the good of all humanity, I also want to go no soap. Everything I have read tells me this is not good (for me). In fact, I believe it could be part of the problem. The little time this summer I spent not eating wheat and such and resisting soap usage were some of my least stinky days.

It’s hard not to resort to the temporary solution of soap when I want to fix the issue. Right now, though, I’m in limbo using other things while I figure this out more clearly. Those things, mostly tea tree and such, are hard for me to apply, though I have in mind a spritz bottle concoction of my own.

More than those quick fixes, I want to know what is going on with me that I smell when everyone else seems to be ok with their odor. (For all I know someone else may have this problem and be masking it with conventional remedies, but for right now I feel pretty alone and frustrated.)

Well, enough moaning, here’s what I’ve come up with after thinking and researching for a while:

Some Potential Problems

  • bacteria (from sweat)
  • toxins in the body (or diet–“studies” show red meat consumption can contribute….obviously that’s not applicable to my dilemma….)
  • deficiencies of magnesium and zinc can cause odor
  • blocked lymph glands
  • too much garlic, onion and curry. (I’m Indian, after all!)

Some Potential Solutions

  • apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp up to 3 times per day)
  • chlorella (How? Didn’t find out, but I put it in smoothies when I don’t mind a bit of a … thick-textured feeling.)
  • grapefruit seed extract  (Added to water)
  • baking soda
  • tea tree oil/lavender oil

What I tried immediately: Apple Cider Vinegar

I saw the most comments from folks on ACV. I liked that I can take it internally (which I plan to try). However, the fact that I could put it right onto my pits appealed to me.

Skeptically, I wet a cloth with some ACV and rubbed each armpit.

While the commenters mostly said to rinse with ACV, wait at least a few minutes and then rinse with water when showering, I had to forgo that part. Life happened, and I found myself out and about running around a park with a toddler while babywearing an 8 mo in the sun.

I was sweating as usual, so surely I would stink when I did a quick sniff check…….but I DIDN’T!

Seriously, I rubbed on some ACV around 2 pm and by bedtime my pits still didn’t smell at all. Mind you, this is only Day 1 of the experiment, but wow. If I hit on this one so early in my research, I feel much more hopeful that I can rejoin society confidently soon enough.

To all the folks who have smelled me and chosen to stay away, I apologize. To all of you who have smelled me and chosen to stay around, I am grateful. To all the folks who find themselves around me in the future, I hope you have no idea that I battled body odor this way.

Did you smell in pregnancy? Has your smell shifted over the years, perhaps with hormones? What has worked for you?

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