Ross and Monica Gellar are the rival siblings of our generation. The TV sitcom “Friends” depicted Ross as the favored child, a “medical miracle,” who could do no wrong in his parents’ eyes. Monica was often criticized for her appearance, her cooking and her romantic relationships.
Much research about sibling rivalry has been conducted since the show first aired and the close relationship between this brother and sister is quite the exception to what was found. Researchers from Purdue University find that siblings experience higher tension and less closeness with one another when there is a perceived favorite child, unless it is found that the favored child is “more needy.” Additionally, when mothers do not favor any children in the family, siblings develop closer relationships well into adulthood.
While some parents admit to having a better relationship with one of their children, they also report treating all their children equally. If this is something you are struggling with and want to create harmony between siblings, here are some tips:
Make time with each individual child to do special activities. Corinne Egger-Wittlin, mother of three, makes a conscious effort to divide her time and attention equally among her children. “I enjoy doing some activities with some more than others, but that will continue to change with time,” she said.
Spend more time with one child than the other. Each child should get “mommy time” or “daddy time.”
Look at each child as an individual. I recently told a fellow mom that when you have the first child, everything is brand new, but after a while you feel you’ve got this parenting thing nailed. Then the second child comes along, and you have to redo your whole parenting plan! Karri Perry has four children, ranging from ages 11 to 20. “Personality wise, they are north, south, east and west,“ she said. “Each one has to be handled in a different way.
Draw comparisons between your children, such as, “Your sister can keep her room clean, why can’t you?” Doing so will create a competitive atmosphere. While a little friendly competition doesn’t do any harm, ongoing comparisons will cause children to feel they are not good enough. Each child will have their own strengths and challenges, and it’s up to us as parents to recognize them.
Praise your children. Discover their love language to find the best way to fill their love tank. “I’m big on hugs and kisses,” said Ivannia Van Arman, mother of four. “I also try to surprise them with little things like a treat here and there or completing one of their chores for them.