If anyone had told a young adult me, a proud only child, that I would THREE children, I would have laughed in their face. Who would do that on purpose, I would think. Well…here we are. I’m a middle-aged mom of three: Girl “S”-10, Boy “A”-12, and Girl “M”-14. I’m going to just cut to the chase here. It is HARD.
Growing up with no siblings, I really had no concept of what sibling rivalry really meant. I figured all brothers and sisters kind of bickered, but mostly got along and had each other’s backs.
Man, I was wrong.
My three fight all day, every day. There are periods during the day when they can work together and play together, but it seems pretty infrequent.
While the fighting is exhausting, I am most troubled by what I like to call the “Challenge of Three”. In almost every scenario, two kids gang up on the other kid. The “teams” change, but I estimate that 85% of the time it’s A and M against S, the elders against the littlest.
I know I’ve been writing a lot about my mom, but she’s going to take a little bit of a hit here too. She was the kids’ caregiver up until about 5 years ago and obviously preferred the youngest (S). She still does, but it’s not on display every day. The older two complain about this preferential treatment all the time and I can’t deny it. Unfortunately, it was a large factor in the wedge between them and S. It hasn’t improved one bit in the last five years. I can’t seem to dissuade it.
I can’t lay all the blame on my mom. S can be a bit of a challenge. She definitely has some “baby of the family” characteristics. She is very dramatic, prone to crying when she doesn’t get her wat, hesitant to do things that indicate she is “growing up”, and tends to get away with things the older two probably didn’t (yes, this is where I lay blame squarely on me and my husband).
Try as I might to foster warmth and camaraderie between these kids, it doesn’t seem to be working. My son seems the most resistant to S. Maybe this is a common “middle child” issue? I don’t know, but I do know he’s purposefully mean and excludes her even when she hasn’t provoked him. I hate this, for him and for her.
Now that I’m home, I’m trying to work on these relationships before it’s too late. I can’t be the only parent with these issues, can I? If anyone has books or resources they’d recommend, I’d love to hear them!