Sibling Rivalry

QA151 QUESTION: How do I handle sibling rivalry between my two little daughters? I was not able to handle this with my own sister but what could I do to make this situation better and not worse?

ANSWER: Well, in the first place, as you rightly say, your own inner situation is the real cause of such a difficulty. For whenever a parent has overcome his problem in the specific area, he is then really equipped to help a child and prohibit the possibility of a similar difficulty.

To the extent you do this yourself, to that extent your outer measures will be successful. Conversely, to the extent you only do the right thing outwardly – you just try to be reasonable and intelligent and wise without seeing and eliminating the problem within yourself – to that extent your action will not meet with full success.

So the main emphasis should always be, whenever you see this happening with your children, to ask yourself, “Where am I still burdened and bothered by this problem, although it may now manifest in an entirely different area and not at all with the original brother or sister involved?” – whatever the case may be; I am speaking generally now.

When you see how you still suffer from this problem and where exactly it manifests, you will then instinctively, intuitively and automatically find the right tone, the right action, the right word, the right feeling, and you will reach her in that rivalry. You will then have the right words, which even if I were to explain them to you or would prescribe them to you would not really help.

You know by reason that giving love and explaining helps – for children understand a great deal – but this help is directly dependent on your own position in this respect. Do you understand?

QUESTION: Yes I do, but I was rather hoping that you would explain a little bit the relationship between sisters and brothers, for when trying to explain to them why this is so, that one is younger and the other one is older and the younger one is, in a way, in the way of the older one. These conflicts seem real.

ANSWER: Now you see, of course, it is also a truth that you know and can admit to yourself that you had a preference for the younger one, for the simple reason that you identified with your older child and disliked in her what you dislike in yourself.

But this is not something that you can explain to her. As far as the children are concerned, what you might be able to explain to them is by finding intuitively the right words. I do not ask you to repeat my words – this would be no good.

Children – or for that matter adults – where they still are children within their inner selves, can only think and feel in terms of totality and finality and either/or. When a child feels a parent has, perhaps, a greater affinity to another child, it immediately feels it is totally unloved. It cannot perceive that a mother or a father can show, perhaps a more demonstrative way to one child, and deep in the heart really not love the other child less.

Now, perhaps you can succeed in explaining to them that there are many kinds of love for many kinds of relationships and personalities. What seems to one less desirable, because the other gets it, does not imply a lesser feeling. Also, it is always a question for every child, “I want it all. I want it all for myself and no one else must get any, not even the tiniest slice of a cake.” All children have that feeling.

By your patience and understanding of this principle, and by seeing where you yourself are still living this principle in a hidden corner of yourself, to that extent you will be able to convey to them that this is what everyone wants and that real love is indivisible. The more one gives, the more is there to give, and the more you will be able to express your love. The less guilty you are, the less impatient you will be, and the more this knowledge will transmit itself.

QUESTION: My second question is, lately I have felt much more in turmoil and much more tired than I have felt for a long time – as if it were the birth pangs of my trying to separate myself from my mother. I feel so much hatred with my mother and my sister and I don’t know what to do with it. I feel physically so weak and I’m just wondering if this is the reason?

ANSWER: Yes, it is. The reason is that you are afraid to express this hate because you do not know how to get rid of it in a healthy way. It is a pent-up energy in you that you do not know what to do with. It is imperative that you find some outlet, even physically, that you express it in some way, and that you let it go without doing any damage to anyone.

You yourself know it is there and know it is an energy that can only convert itself into something more constructive when it is fully accepted and fully expressed. The tremendous rage in you is towards your mother and your sister, because with your mother you were not the first. This is the rage and this is why you do not wish to let go. You still seek to make up for the past as you felt injury that’s been done to you.

I guarantee you, I promise you, you will almost simultaneously observe a totally different situation with your daughters the moment you can accept for yourself that your mother has given something, perhaps a little more demonstrative and different, to your sister than to you – the moment you can no longer quarrel with that, but accept this.

This acceptance will become possible in the measure you fully acknowledge the self-centered wish, “I want both my father’s and mother’s total love. I disregard everyone else. I am the most important thing. I do not care what happens to anyone else, including my sister, but I want it all for myself.”

When you can fully, again and again, feel your rage in connection with this sentiment in you, with this wish, then you will be able to release the rage in a way that no damage will be done – physically, emotionally and mentally – on all three levels.

Then you will be able, as a next step, to tentatively try out a new approach to this question by saying, “Well, do I really need, for survival and for self-respect, that I have to have it all for myself? Is it perhaps not an error? Can I perhaps not live just as well by conceding that certain feelings have gone to my sister without impoverishing me in the least?”

When you can mean this and think this, you will begin to feel it. Then you will be free from the tie. Your tie to your mother is directly related to this. And the problems of your children, among each other, is directly related in turn to that.

You will be able to cut this mental umbilical cord and no longer have to hate her while you obey your mother, when you acknowledge the full significance and implication of your rage – again and again – why you are enraged and what you wanted from her and how the ruthless child in you disregarded all and anyone else but your personal interests – the greed of the child that wants it all for itself.

The more you acknowledge this, the more you will free yourself of it – and not only of the rage, but at the same time of the tie.

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