When Jill brought her second baby home from the hospital, her 4-year-old daughter, June, jumped up and down with delight to the point of exhaustion.
There was a big party to welcome her baby brother, and she had a total blast. As the last guest was leaving, June ran after her and screamed, “Wait, lady, you forgot your baby!!”
June’s delight turned to dismay. She cried for days, was fussy all the time, and behaved as if the worst thing in the world had ever happened to her. The sibling rivalry that ensued between June and Luke got worse as they got older, especially as he started crawling and becoming a real person.
Everything became a competition. They always fought over toys, and although they hugged and said they loved each other, Jill was deeply worried about their long-term bond. She just wanted them to grow up and be friends – maybe not best friends, but certainly close enough to rely on each other. Meanwhile, she wanted a home without the constant yelling, crying, and bickering.
Does any of this sound familiar?
OK, let’s begin by talking honestly about conflict. Sibling rivalry is all about conflict. In fact, our sibling is one of the first people we will routinely have conflict with.
The truth is, when any two or more people spend lots of time together, conflict is inevitable.
Conflict is a form of energy and life. It’s evidence that more than one thought, feeling, and approach exists. Without conflict, we would stagnate and wither.
Conflict lets us know we’re alive and that we have a point of view in the world.
Conflict, in and of itself, is not a problem.
As parents, our goal as we raise self-assured independent thinkers cannot be to avoid conflict. The goal is to work through our conflicts with our relationships and sanity intact.
Strange as it sounds, a conflict-free home is NOT a peaceful home.