Sister Rivalry: Teaching Them How to Get Along
Not long ago they seemed thick as thieves. Although there are several years between them, they always managed to find ways to play together.
Sure, your older daughter would get annoyed when her younger sister went for her toys, but overall things were peaceful. So, what happened? It seems as if since your oldest hit high school she doesn’t have the time of day for her doting sister.
In fact, although you hate to be honest with yourself, on occasion she has been downright mean toward her. Of course, you have sat her down and discussed her behavior. You’ve tried to explain that she should be flattered that her younger sister sees her in such high esteem and that, in reality, her little sis seems to wish she could be her.
While these talks have some effect, sometimes it feels like only minutes later that you are once again in the role of a ref. In fact,you have recently contemplated buying a whistle or at least a flag or two you could throw down when their interactions get mean and nasty. Your older daughter does have somewhat of a point at times.
Life can be difficult when your younger sister is always following you around to the point where it looks like stalking. To say she is in your older daughter’s business (or at least trying) is an understatement at times.
She is quick to come to you with the hottest news on who your older daughter is talking to and about what. The truth is– your youngster would make a great spy. Although you constantly redirect her surveillance efforts, a part of you is glad for the intel.
You long for the days when they played ‘school’ and ‘house’ together. Of course, they still have many moments. There was your trip this summer to the beach…well at least the long car ride, sort of. Even if they were both plugged in to their own movies and music at least they were getting along.
Will your oldest ever give her younger sis the time of day again? Is there a way to help find a middle ground? Here are some thoughts on how to approach this tricky situation:
Encourage together time. Ask your older daughter to devote some time to her younger sister. Appeal to her natural egocentrism by pointing out there is much she has to teach her. Ask her to pick a specific hour a week (the same day and time each week) when she can spend some time with her idolizing sibling. After all, there is much she can teach her.
Work with your girls to establish specific rules and boundaries with corresponding consequences. If your daughters share a room, for example, it is helpful to figure out a way to define each sibling’s own space. If your daughters are prone to take each other’s clothes or accessories, ask them to establish consequences for doing so without asking.
Insist on family meals. Research repeatedly reflects the value of eating together as a family. Although varying daily schedules may make this task a challenge, even sharing a few meals over the weekend is better than none at all. Family meals enhance communication and keep family members in tune with each other.
As your older daughter becomes more autonomous and independent, your younger daughter may benefit from and even crave more alone time with you. Make time to devote to your younger daughter. Although she may really miss time with her sis, a little alone time with you will make her feel special.
The bond between sisters is indeed a special one. Although right now it may seem like your daughters have drifted apart, with a little time and encouragement, they will once again appreciate each other’s assets. Although you might not be able to put away your whistle just yet, in time their continental divide will naturally come together.
Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, “Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent’s Guide to Becoming Bilingual.” They’ve set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.