Sibling Rivalry in a Blended Family

by on February 12th, 2011
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Sibling rivalry is alive and well no matter what the family unit structure is. Whether you are from a large family like the Walton’s where no divorce or death of a spouse has occurred, or a blended family like the Brady Bunch, there will be sibling rivalry. It may not be an everyday occurrence, but it will be there, lurking in the shadows waiting to attack when you least expect it. When it does, how will your family deal with it?

Allow Them To Meet

Whenever possible, it is best to make sure the children have met prior to the wedding. A wedding is a huge life changing event and to suddenly meet your new siblings at the wedding is a huge stress on all of the children involved. Even if the siblings to be live a continent away it is important to find a way that they can meet prior to the wedding. In today’s modern era even a skype meeting is better than nothing at all.

Plan Some Outings

If the soon to be new step parent, only has visiting privileges alternate weekends, make sure to plan a few get outings prior to the wedding ceremony, so that the kids can become familiar with one another and get to know one another. It’s going to take time for the kids to get to know one another and this is a crucial step in helping them to get along. If both parties have full custody and all children will be living under the same roof, making sure the kids have met prior to the wedding is even more imperative.

Special Time

In our household, it is a tradition that all of the children, whether biological or step, that live in our immediate household, have a lunch with mom at least once a month. On our special lunch date, we talk about whatever the child wants to talk about. The time is this particular child’s alone and if another child wants to come along or the other parent, the invited child has to agree to it or else it isn’t allowed.

Showing each child respect and consideration by having a special date with each child each month, helps that child to feel wanted and needed within the family unit. It gives us a time to bond and gives the child an opportunity to have mom all to him or herself. If the child is having a problem and wants to talk about it, that is a great opportunity to discuss it. For the younger ones we often take our lunch to the park and have some great one on one time on the play ground equipment. Whatever we do, its all about that child for an hour or so.

Bonding Time

Children also need time to bond together and form an alliance. I am reminded of the old movie “Yours, Mind, Ours” where the man has about 8 kids and the woman has about 10 and they get married at their High School Reunion without inviting or telling the children until after wards. As you can imagine, both sets of children are less than enthusiastic about having new siblings, not to mention a new step parent.

The children are not happy about the situation and try to make each others lives miserable and break the parents apart. In the end, they learn to form an alliance together even though they may not agree on everything. They have forged a bond of brotherly and sisterly love that transcends the original dilemma.

Equal Treatment

If we treat all of the children equally and make every effort to spend time with each and every one of them, often the rest is up to the children.

Let The Children Work It Out

It is very important to allow the children to try work things out between them as much as possible. Only step in when it is absolutely necessary. Don’t allow the children to treat one another like the sisters in Cinderella, but rather encourage and foster that they are responsible to treat each other as they want others to treat them. Then step back and allow them to figure out a solution to the problem.

Remember that it is normal for children to occasionally fight and argue but, given time and patience most children will at least find a common ground with which to interact in.

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