Are You There, Moms? It’s Me, Idiot How Do You Deal With Sibling Rivalry?

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mom-adviceWhile there’s nothing inherently better about being an only child or having siblings, I am endlessly grateful that I ended up with siblings. But I wonder how you deal with sibling rivalry, because if I have children I hope to have more than one, and I’m pretty nervous about how to handle all of that fighting and teach siblings how to have healthy, respectful relationships with each other.

My younger sister is four years younger than me. Our parents took the “stop harassing each other” approach, which didn’t exactly foster communication or even faked apologies. We simply went to our corners and then pretended nothing happened. We fought constantly as kids and didn’t become friends until I left for college, but even then, our relationship was fairly fraught. It’s only now that we’re starting to really work through the underlying issues that tie up our relationship, and get in the way of the fact that we’re ideally suited to be best friends. In that regard–we got pretty lucky.

As it turns out, the relationship with my sibling turned out to be one of the most significant in my life. Sometimes we both call each other at the same exact moment and leave identical voicemails. I can say, quite literally, one word to her and communicate a story or experience that would take hours to explain to anyone else. It’s a relationship worth working on, because most of the time, it’s great. But I wonder sometimes how our relationship might have been different if we’d learned to communicate better as children (this is not to blame my parents, who I believe did the best that they could. But don’t we all want to improve upon our parents’ model?).

So, how do you make sure your kids don’t kill each other? Or, did your parents do a particularly good or bad job? Are you still close with your own siblings, and how did you guys get over the years of shoving each other and hair pulling?