Sibling showdown 

If it’s not a chair they’re fighting over, it’s the color of the chair. 

To successfully cohabitate with children, one must learn to quietly cry. 

Because dealing with sibling rivalry is not even about being a good referee, it’s managing each kid’s mood, too. So one kid is a biter? And the other a pushover? 

Why don’t we add a drama queen to the mix? Just to spice things up.

So in between the “I hate you!” “Go away!” “He took my pen!!” here are my house rules regarding fights: 

  1. Never fight over food. Just never.
  2. If you don’t want to share a certain toy/thing, put it away. If you show it, you share it.*
  3. Use your words. No hitting, biting, pushing, screaming.

*I established this rule after FZ became a big sister and I realized that everyone has a few personal things that they value. Be it a special gift or artwork. 

While we enforce sharing in our house, I also teach my kids to respect each other’s personal things and space. But I make them responsible to take care of their things. If they leave out a special toy, then it’s their fault if baby brother grabs it. 

And while I have rules, who says my kids follow them? It’s a long process, folks. My goal is sometime between now and my first gray hair they finally listen to me.

And so I have learned to quietly cry. In my pillow, when I have those early morning pre-breakfast “I want the blue plate!” fights. In the bathroom, when I have those mid-day “That’s my book/pony/string!” fights. And in my head, when I have those post-brushing, “I want Mama/Baba to sleep with me!” fights.

While it may seem like they’re fighting all day, the beautiful moments of love and friendship shine through on occasion. When they laugh, or share a book together. Or hold hands as they walk. And you feel like you got this. You feel like yes, kids are great. You feel like baking cookies and dunking them in milk.

Keep holding onto that feeling.

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Conscious parenting 

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of parenting on auto pilot. As soon as they’re born, babies cry for milk and the warmth of their mother. A new mother automatically puts her child to her body and if you’re lucky, a bond is formed. As the days turn into months, you might start just thinking that fulfilling kids’ material needs means your kids will survive. 

And they will. We all need shelter, food and clothing for our survival. But what about being conscious of the words we say? Of the way we behave? Do we really think about our behavior and how if affects our child? 

One snide remark. One burst of sarcasm. One critical retort. One eye rolling. 

It might seem insignificant on its own, but after a few times, kids will pick up on these reactions as the way to respond to others. 

And on the other hand, do we know how much of an effect a big hug has on our child’s day? An “I love you?” A reassuring smile after a hard day? Our full attention during a story? 

I call this conscious parenting. I admit I was guilty of running on auto pilot but now with FZ almost 8 years old (I know, I can’t believe it!), I’ve become more watchful of my behavior and words. I’ve had to dig down deep and rethink how I parent. 

I’ve had to come out of my comfort zone so they can experience a childhood of imagination, mess and creativity. I’ve had to take a mental timeout so I could be there for the whining and help them get past it. 

But it’s just easier to say “Stop whining and just get over it!!” And there are times I might say that, but now I take every moment as a learning experience – not just for my kids, but for myself. 

I believe my kids are a trust from God. I’ve been privileged to serve as a mother to these little creatures of God. If I screw it up, it’s not just my life that will be affected, but their lives and the lives of all those they come in contact with. 

It’s a big responsibility and I pray that from here on out, I will take my parenting seriously. I know it’s not easy, and I’m sure there will be plenty of more hills to climb. Not to mention lots of hills I’ll be rolling down. But I will get back up, and I will try my best.