Sibling Rivalry can be a challenge at home, sometimes it is here at school, too. My “favorite” story of sibling rivalry in the classroom comes from one of our sisters who had twin brothers who were at each other’s throats, often. One day when things were at the height of their disagreement before lunch, though seated across the room from one another, they physically took one another down, right there in the middle of The Angelus. Catholic School is not a place where there is no sin, but we try to call sin by its proper name, then repent of it, confess it, make reparation where possible and move on, even when it happens in the middle of the Angelus.
Presently I’m reading a book entitled, Siblings without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish. There is a recommendation that intersects with a communication tool that we have all heard endorsed not only in the situation of sibling rivalry, but in good communication across the board. When one of the children comes in, impassioned about the injustice just inflicted by a sibling, the recommendation is to simply listen well and reflect back a summary statement, although in some instances breaking up a fight might be the first order of business. This is not the time for the talk on why you shouldn’t feel that way, or what you possibly did to cause……rather a summary statement to help diffuse the situation and enable deeper processing later. Statements like, “It is frustrating when others won’t play fairly, isn’t it,” or “younger siblings sometimes make a real mess, don’t they,” or “being in the car that long is hard, isn’t it, especially when they are sitting so close.” By listening we can help diffuse the situation and empathize with the impassioned one. There’s something about the catharsis that happens when we express ourselves and are listened to.
While the book has a number of good recommendations, which I hope to revisit later, it all starts with listening well. Something tells me that is true for a lot more than sibling rivalry as we work to get along well as coworkers, spouses, friends and collaborators in education, and fellow Catholics. May the Lord bless us along every step of the way.
In Christ’s Love,