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Family Purity

Family Purity

10 Tips to Stop Sibling Rivalry

Published on Wednesday September 1st, 2021

There is no doubt that all parents want to see their children love and respect each other. Indeed, this is exactly what our Heavenly Father asks of us: "My son, what am I asking of you? ... That you love and respect yourself…cherish truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:19).

Undoubtedly, the task of raising children is particularly complex and presents many challenges.

Not long ago, I discussed this with my husband, and we came to the conclusion that it is not possible to succeed in educating our children without being guided by the Torah in every step.

To be honest, I will tell you that despite all my years of marriage and child-rearing, we run, even today, between marriage counselors, parenting counselors, and personal coaches, to get tools to help us fight and solve problems that arise in the changing dynamics of life. Without this, the situation could quickly turn into a comic (or tragic) succession of errors. And all this, despite my professional experience and the many diplomas that adorn the walls of my clinic.

I was at the supermarket one day, and a woman was lining up with two teenage children. The teens kept teasing, arguing and cursing each other.

The mother reprimanded them, threatened them, and even implored them to cease, without success. Her red cheeks revealed her confusion and anger. I understood her distress very well.

So, Practically Speaking, What Do We Do?

1.      Children are children: It is important to understand that if we, as adults, have difficulty adjusting our feelings and controlling our reactions and actions, then it is even more difficult for children. They need parents who set limits (without aggression, but clearly), with which they can talk freely and healthily, and who give them clear rules to be kept at home.

2.      A social battlefield: Every child comes home from school with various "explosive charges", but we must learn how to help them get rid of their difficulties so that their frustration does not come out on us or on their siblings.

3.      Disputes between parents: children who are exposed to arguments and quarrels between their parents imitate their actions. When they see that the adults who are responsible for them do not succeed in "stopping at a red light" and working on themselves, then it is obvious that they too will not be able to stop and control their impulsive reactions.

4.      "Man's inclination is bad since his childhood": If we want our children to love each other, we must learn and make efforts to create a loving and tolerant atmosphere at home, which allows our children to overcome their bad inclination and to choose good.

5.      Emotional Intelligence: When did we last speak to our children about feelings? A child's sensitive world is filled with overwhelming experiences, astonishments and frustrations. If we succeed in creating a healthy dialogue, where it is possible for them to express themselves freely, without being judged or criticized, the fights will eventually diminish.

6.      Parents never have the right to take a specific child's side: Children, unconsciously, judge their parents love for them through arguments. If the parent takes a side, it only aggravates the friction between them. A child who sees one of his parents take his side feels a superiority over his brothers, which creates a war of status and incessant competition for love and parental attention. When two children are arguing, we have to tell them, "I do not like these arguments, and no matter who started, I count on you to settle the argument between you! If you continue to argue, you will both have to go to your rooms to calm down and think about your behaviour."

7.      It is also up to us to remember that it does not matter if the big brother started bothering the little one or the other way around ... "It takes two to tango", and if they took part in the quarrel, it is a sign that they could have gained something, otherwise, they would have stopped. As I tell my children: "If you argue, apparently you like it, so if you, do it in your room, because I'm not ready to intervene." Either I move away from the source of the noise, or I send them to play somewhere else.

8.      The jungle of life: The struggles between children are not always negative, if they are not extreme. The natural quarrels between brothers and sisters help them to develop systems of healthy resistance, as well as to develop tools and aptitudes to live in society. Indeed, it is better that they become accustomed to using their strengths with their beloved siblings, rather than in the "social jungle" outside the home.

9.      Testing the limits: Children need parents with authority who know how to set clear boundaries. Parents can impose limits only through constant self-help, self-confidence, and setting a personal example. Children need role models that intelligently point the way, and give them clear messages, with kindness.

10. The Holy Torah: "It is a tree of life for those who master it and it ensures happiness for those who attach themselves to it!'' The Torah is the code of the road of this world. Children who grow up without clear ideology, without "instructions", will never be able to keep to set limits and barriers. The Torah is the heart of our existence and it is not possible to grow without it.

So, may we raise sons and daughters, wise and intelligent, who love and fear G-d, who love and respect each other, who live well, both in this world and in the World to come.

With all my love

Rabbanite ‘Haguit Amayav

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