Siblings Aren’t Always the Best of Friends
When you and your sibling fought as children, your parents probably intervened. They sent you to your rooms, asked you to think about what you did to each other, and expected a mutual apology. Most of the time, this method worked and eventually whatever you fought about was forgotten. But what happens when siblings fight as adults? Should parents get involved or let their adult children hash things out? Do siblings have to get along with each other? Here’s what you shouldn’t do if your adult children are fighting with each other.
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Don’t Take Sides
Unless one sibling is physically or mentally abusing another sibling, don’t take sides. As a parent, you’re supposed to remain impartial. The issues you children have with each other run deep, and they may even be the result of their upbringing. If you get involved, you also risk becoming the common enemy, as your children can turn on you. Just let them work it out.
Don’t Ignore Their Feelings
Dismissing or ignoring your adult child’s feelings is detrimental to your relationship with them. Using words or phrases like “dramatic,” “overly emotional,” and “insignificant” in an attempt to quash an argument between siblings only fuels the fire. Whether you agree with them or not, your adult children are experiencing real feelings that they need to work through. If you don’t acknowledge their feelings, you’re basically saying their hurt doesn’t matter to you.
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Don’t Lie to Them
In an effort to speed up apologies, a parent might go to each sibling and say the other one is sorry, when they aren’t. In fact, they haven’t regretted their actions at all! But if each sibling thinks the other is sorry, it’s easier to come together and make up, right? It is, until your children find out that you lied to both of them. The bottom line is, an apology is useless unless it’s sincere and comes from the offending party, so don’t invent apologies.
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Don’t Make Excuses
Many sibling fights are often about feeling disrespected. You know what respect is and you most likely taught your children to respect themselves and others. So don’t make excuses for why one sibling treats another poorly. Don’t blame it on stress at work or at home. Don’t make them seem more important to the world than they actually are. Even if one of your children is this close to discovering a cure for cancer, it doesn’t give them the right to be a jerk to their sibling.
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Don’t Lay a Guilt Trip
If your adult children are fighting, don’t use guilt to make them reconcile. Don’t talk about how hurt you are because they don’t get along. Don’t make references to your advanced age or physical health. Don’t talk about unborn nieces and nephews who will never meet their aunt or uncle. You know you can spend time with your children individually. Your physical health is your own responsibility and no child ever suffered greatly because they never met their aunt or uncle.
Don’t Threaten or Bribe Them
If your adult children aren’t behaving the way you want, don’t threaten them. If you’re disappointed that they can’t get along (even for your sake), don’t dangle inheritance or gifts over their heads. Don’t promise them material things as an incentive for pretending to like each other, just so you can feel better about how you raised them. What do you think will happen once you’re no longer around?
Making Things Worse
Sibling relationships are complicated and form in early childhood. Sometimes they can be warm and loving; other times they can be downright combative. Just because two people played well together as children, it doesn’t mean they’ll make excellent friends as adults. As a parent, you’ve raised two individuals with distinct personalities, likes and dislikes. There’s bound to be some conflict at some point. Your job is to not make things worse.
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