Sibling rivalry

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by SuZir, Nov 6, 2012.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Ugh! easy child is again showing signs of envy for difficult child. And is being nasty on the matter. He did have a quite big disappointment in his sport and that is probably the reason behind it. easy child is very used to being the golden boy of the family. The one who is good at everything and is much praised over his achievements. difficult child has always been the troubled one. But there are few niches there difficult child is showing more talent than easy child. Unfortunately those happen to be things easy child deems important. Sports are the biggie. While easy child has always been better than difficult child in most sports, the one they both are serious with, is the one difficult child may be more talented. They luckily play different positions, so comparing is more difficult and of course they both are still so young nothing definite can be said. And while adults may have always thought difficult child more talented one of our boys, for easy child it is something newer. He has always been best or one of the best players of his team, so did difficult child. Only now that also easy child is old enough for junior national development programs, it has became clear to also him, that while difficult child has always been one of the stars also in those circles, he himself is more a fringe player in that level. Doesn't mean that he couldn't end up better than difficult child, as I said, they are both still very young, but currently there is a difference for difficult child's advantage. Also in school, after changing schools this fall, easy child has started to hear different things about difficult child. Till now it was always: "Oh, it's good that you are nothing like your brother!" and now easy child in fact has teachers who think highly of difficult child and some have even said that to easy child.

    difficult child's gifts tend to give him some extra second changes, some more support and understanding and trying to help him and that easy child thinks is unfair. We and his school and sport have always taught him, how working hard and giving your best is what we all want and what matters. How everyone treats difficult child and how easy child feels he is or would be treated in similar situations are to easy child too far from each other to be fair. And he is having hard time getting over of unfairness of all that. And he is angry for difficult child because of that.

    He doesn't seem to appreciate how much hardship difficult child's limitations and weaknesses give him and how unfair that is, if he wants to compare unfairnesses. To him difficult child's problem seem to be just choices and he doesn't really get, that many of difficult child's core problems are things he simply can't choose differently. For example easy child thinks that difficult child would be more liked by his peers, if he would just choose to be nicer to others. He doesn't really get, that difficult child's problem really isn't that he just wants to be annoying and detested by his peers, but that he simply doesn't know how to be 'nicer to others' and likeable.

    difficult child spent a night home on his way to his national team camp (yeah, that was a trigger for easy child) and while easy child wasn't that nasty to difficult child himself, he has been making very catty comments about him to me, husband and others. He also broke something of difficult child's. I'm quite sure it wasn't completely deliberated but neither do I believe it was an honest accident. There was more or less disregard involved. How much, I can't say for sure. The thing broken is luckily not too expensive, but it does have some sentimental value to difficult child, and is unfortunately something that can not be replaced. I'm in little loss with how to deal with easy child, because this is not like him at all. In fact it is straight from difficult child's MO, not something typical to easy child at all, which is why I do tend to believe, it was more an accident and less deliberate.

    I'm an only child myself and I really hate this stuff. Especially when I get it from my sweet easy child.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Argh. It is so hard. It does sound like a sports disappointment at the moment. I guess it's an underlying thing that rears its head at times like this.
    It's so hard to keep things fair, when there is no such thing as fair.
    Hugs all around.
  3. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Terry, you are right. The current bout is most likely because easy child feeling bad about getting cut. And I understand it is difficult to be that fringe kid. Every other time in, every other time out depending this or that. And this time he even got surpassed by his own team mate, who in their own team hierarchy is much behind easy child and easy child has done much better than that kid in their own team. But while they are playing same position, their role is different and I can see why the coaches chose that other boy to the team. His strengths are in areas easy child is weaker and easy child is strong in areas that other kid isn't. And they had enough boys to that position with easy child's player profile who were better than him and needed boys with that different profile. But of course easy child is disappointed, especially because he has done very well all fall and exceeded expectations everyone had for him. And at the same time he sees how difficult child's national group is bending backwards to help difficult child, who really has had major struggles this fall, to get out of his slump, because they have very few possibilities in substituting him. I can see how unfair that feels to sixteen year old, who has always been taught that it is about hoe hard you work, how good team mate you are etc. And then difficult child gets so many extra chances even though in the same group there are kids he has even stolen from and though he is certainly not a good team player.

    If it would be outside of the family he would likely have easier time with unfairness of it and he would understand that goal is the best of the team and at times that makes different rules for different people. But when it is about his own brother, it is more difficult for him to see it from that point of view. He sees it like difficult child getting more ice cream than him even though difficult child is being naughty and less deserving and that of course feels unfair for him.

    Because difficult child and easy child are so different people and because easy child tends to be very good in areas that are most difficult for difficult child, easy child has hard time really seeing difficult child's point of view. It is so easy to underestimate things that come easy for you. For example easy child has always been very quick to make friends and is good at keeping them. He has a big and great group of friends and even when he has to try anew, like this fall partly, he is quickly making new friends and comfortable and in ease in any group. He really don't get how much struggles and hurt those same things cause to difficult child. How much harder difficult child works to survive socially and how much it hurts when he still fails all the time. easy child has no experiences on being social outcast, so it is easy for him to scoff off those kind of things and simply envy those few, small niches where difficult child may be bit more talented than him.
  4. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    This is probably something that comes as a shock to easy child. He is so used to being the "good one" in terms of behavior, and to hear that someone like a teacher thought highly of difficult child is probably stunning to him. Yes, I do agree with you that right now the sports thing is what is driving the rivalry, though. Can you try to explain to him that just because difficult child is a difficult child does not mean that he doesn't deserve to be better at something than easy child? I know. It sounds so simple, but sometimes these things need to be pointed out to kids, both the difficult child kids and the easy child kids.

    I hope that it gets better.
  5. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    That is something we have tried to point out to easy child. Just because difficult child has problems doesn't mean he doesn't have any strengths. And just because he does have problems doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to have also good things happening to him. I have also tried to point out how easy child should appreciate his own strengths more and be thankful he has so many of them. We have also talked how difficult child was born different and he hasn't really chosen for example his neurological differences. And that both easy child and difficult child have to learn to take everything out of their strengths and live with their limitations and make a best life they can from it. And that looking the big picture they are both pretty darn lucky ones compared to all kids all over the world born at the same time they were. But all that is of course rather big thing for easy child to comprehend.

    In this specific sport situation the easier way for easy child to accept it is to try to make him think about these things from coaches point of view. Both why his team mate was chosen instead of him and why difficult child is getting extra chances. Luckily they do play different positions and difficult child's position is one of those little different ones. Bit like a pitcher in baseball. Even if the whole team expect the pitcher plays great, but pitcher is bad, the team has difficult time winning. So other players often rather stand prickly great pitcher than have a bad pitcher who is a great guy. easy child is a real team player and gets that logic. So he kind of does get that even with difficult child character issues and even with him struggling, the fact that his best is better than the best of the other current options makes it very tempting for coaches to try everything to get difficult child out of his slump and performing on his best level because that would really help rest of the team. But being disappointed on being cut himself, he really doesn't want to consider that point of view, even though he does get it.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Some of this, it seems to me, is easy child's normal development curve running up against his older brother's shadow.
    In terms of normal development... 15-18 (they tell us, but those are "just numbers") is when teen males do a lot of "defining themselves". There is a lot of sorting, a lot of ups and downs. If difficult child was good at something totally different - music, or computers, or even a totally different sport - it would be easier for easy child.
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I think it's a chance for easy child to develop some of his so-called "perfect"ness... ie summoning up the generosity to be happy for his brother and the maturity to let go of some of his (all very natural) jealousy. :) This is why I think easy child and difficult child territories are not clearly delineated - perhaps your difficult child would be more capable of spontaneous generosity, SuZir? I know mine is.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I do believe this is normal development for easy child too. I'm just not too fond of it ;)

    I'm also not quite sure how I want to deal with broken item thing. My mommy gut says it was not broken in total accident, but I have absolutely no proof. easy child's story is of course that it was an accident and when I implied to husband I have my doubts about that, he basically blamed me projecting difficult child's troubled ways to easy child. But let's face it. The broken item just happens to be difficult child's sport memento. It was in difficult child's room, either in open shelf with his trophies or in closed closet. If easy child just happened to need item like that, there would had been several around the house with no sentimental value at all. So basically this is a case of little brother taking the ball big brother hit the breaking home run in state championship game to play catch with neighbours pit bull. Raise a hand if you believe in total accident-story.

    Luckily difficult child is not much of a sentimentalist and neither a collector, he will not be too upset about this. And if easy child tells him it was an accident, he will believe it. He is as much in denial on easy child being able to do something like that in purpose as husband.

    That leaves me three possible ways to deal with this:

    - I can confront easy child about it. As said, I don't have proof and if he denies it, husband will side with him and we will end up with another fight over difficult child most likely. Not wanting to go there.

    - I can let easy child tell difficult child it was an accident and let husband believe so too, but have a private talk with easy child and tell him that I know the truth, he knows it and if he doesn't want me to tell husband or difficult child he better make some amends to difficult child


    - I can just let it play out. Let easy child tell difficult child it was an accident and pretend to believe it myself and let bad conscience do a disciplining for me. This would probably be a toughest way for easy child, because here he is very different from difficult child. While breaking something behind a back of a person you are envious, angry or something with would be very difficult child thing to do, he would very strongly believe it is that other person's fault all together and it would need a lot of talking and coaching to make him take accountability. But easy child will feel really bad over this and it will eat him alive he has done something like this to difficult child.

    I'm not really liking any of my options. :sigh:
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    When in doubt, go with natural consequences.
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Wow, how silly of me! I honestly never thought about it from that point of view. Thanks IC for pointing that one out.

    He is sixteen, I'm sure he should be able to handle natural consequences of being nasty to his brother by now (in this case, having bad conscience) without me trying to make it better or trying to solve it for him. I have always blamed myself of spoiling and mollycoddling difficult child, but maybe he is not an only one I'm coddling too much...
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My younger two are also very jealous of each other. Well not so much now but they were when they were younger. Cory was really upset when Jamie was able to go in the military and he wasnt and that is still a sore spot to this day. He feels that Jamie got a leg up that he was never able to get. He does have a point. Jamie always thought Cory got so many good things just because he was To Jamie Cory got to go to places like wilderness camp which was actually a behavioral placement but it looked to Jamie like summer camp. He was so jealous he acted out like a banshee.
  12. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    difficult child stopped by at home and easy child told about broken item to him and explained it as a total accident. difficult child didn't suspect that at all, even though easy child shouldn't even have had any reason to take that particular item and even less use it so carelessly that it got ruined. Can be that difficult child has so many worries of his own that he didn't even think abut easy child told him at all. Or he is still incapable to believe that easy child could do anything like that. But I'm kind of glad difficult child doesn't need to deal with easy child aggression towards him at the moment. He is having tough enough time already.

    And I should probably be prepared to have one quite moody teen boy at my breakfast table for next few weeks. Bad conscience and easy child don't make a pleasant combination.