sibling support

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by firehorsewoman, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. I would like to hear what others here do to support their difficult child's easy child siblings.

    My daughter is very often the victim of my difficult child's verbal, emotional and physical volatility. On the flip side she is his main provider of his emotional support, entertainment, attention and friendship. She is bearing a huge burden...has since he was born. Both her father and I have noticed her suffering more visibly lately. We are trying to give her time alone, time with friends without difficult child, we sent them to different day camps some weeks this summer, etc. I have searched online for local sibling support groups but did not find anything. I am hoping once we get a good referral for a therapist for difficult child that person can also meet with easy child.

    I have ordered her a book I found on Sibsupport website. I don't know if she is old enough to participate on their online forum for kids. I don't know how I feel about her doing that yet.

    Would love to hear other ideas.

  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Fortunately my easy child is five years older than difficult child. When the "big" problems began to manifest when he was 8, she was 13 -- she could understand on some level that he needed extra everything!

    I did make sure that I spent good quality one on one time with her on a regular basis. But I am also blessed with a big-hearted, understanding, and caring daughter. She is now in school to be a Special Education teacher -- she just has that caring inside naturally. There were a number of times when she was at the therapist office with us and our doctor invited her in to talk - we were blessed with a wonderful therapist as well!

    I believe if my easy child was younger, it would might have been more of a challenge. But I think I would still be as honest about their difficult child sibling's needs and issues as they could grasp at whatever age they happened to be. I would also make sure that quality one on one with them was a priority (but I also made that a priority with my difficult child as well - all interactions couldn't be negative!).

  3. Firehorsewoman - I know how you feel. My easy child has told me she hates difficult child. This was when we were in major crisis a couple of months ago. There is still 'stuff' going on but it has calmed considerably and is not as stressful as it was. When difficult child was out of the house things were calm and orderly, no fighting, so much less stress - then he came home and everything ramps ups again.

    It is so hard for easy child's to endure this turmoil because of the difficult child's. Even though my easy child is 3 years younger she has always been a friend and emotional support to my difficult child. She has always shown tremendous patience with him and has even guided him and helped him with things as well.

    I'd be interested to hear about that Sibsupport website and the book you ordered. Might help with my easy child.

    I don't have any other suggestions for you except what you've already described. One on one time for easy child - a mother/daughter shopping day, a movie without difficult child, a trip out for ice cream when difficult child is at an appointment?, making sure she has time to enjoy life and friends and forget about difficult child stuff for a while, counselling. We do that with easy child and if something difficult child has done causes her to miss out on something we try to make it up to her in some way - not always because life does have disappointments but a lot of the time - partly because I don't want her to have so much animosity towards difficult child.

    Wish I had more ideas. Maybe someone else does.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    This is SO tough. Same situation here... except almost-easy child is younger.
    We try to balance three things:
    - the medically necessary adjustments to our home for difficult child (very regular routine, specifics of diet, etc.)
    - the wear-and-tear of being the sibling to a difficult child
    - the need for almost-easy child to still be her own person

    There is no option on the first list - and almost-easy child fits in. She can't have friends over because of difficult child's schedule, for example. So we focus on the other two.

    We try to give almost-easy child some "no difficult child around" time at least once a week - she will go with either parent off to do something, or either parent will take difficult child off to do something and give her space. We also intervene when difficult child gets TOO mean.

    And then... we find ways to focus on HER interests. She can't have friends in - but she can go to their houses, and/or meet them "out" (pool or whatever). Lessons, events, etc. of HER interest, may mean that one parent goes rather than going as a family, but we still try to support these.

    As both are now in HS, ours are a bit more independent than a 10yo would be, but... we've been doing this for 10 years now.
  5. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    This is something we still struggle and our difficult child is already adult and out of house, lives three hours away and mostly visits only once a month for day or two, though right now he is spending more time home during his summer holiday. Our easy child is three years younger and their relationship is complicated, has always been. difficult child has never been physically violent so that helps. But he can be mean and verbally vicious and has been in past. Nowadays that is not really a problem between them any more.

    easy child has also always had most of his dad's attention on him, difficult child has been more my problem. But still, stress difficult child has caused us has affected also easy child. We live in smallish community (and unfortunately have rather uncommon surname) and difficult child's troubles and bad reputation is something easy child resents and some of it even reflects to easy child - at least in some people's minds. I have also worried if difficult child and his issues change too much about how I respond to easy child's typical teen behaviours.

    So I have no answers, just sympathy.
  6. Thanks for the responses.

    This challenge really is tough isn't it? Each individual family has their own dynamics and challenges. Although difficult children that are only children without siblings face their own problems associated with being an only child...difficult children with siblings give their parents two sets of children's issues to deal with.

    Because my easy child is a bit older than difficult child she was "recruited" as my assistant at a very young age. Mostly, because she was very good at it. When he was a baby I would tell her, "Make difficult child happy" and she would go through her routine of playing, singing, jumping, whatever to get him to stop crying. I had no idea then that was just the beginning of something way more serious. Also from the earliest days she would be reprimanded for "setting him off" "You know how he is! Why did you say/do/not say/not do_____." So, she has had it rough both ways: make him happy and keep him from getting upset. That's a tough job for a little girl.

    That all being said plus the fact that he has been physically aggressive towards her still does not change how close and connected they are to each other. Because there are just the two of them and they are very close in age, their relationship is even more intense I believe.

    Thankfully, easy child has friends although difficult child has made that difficult at times. There have been many instances in the past when children were afraid of/shunned/or just didn't want to be around difficult child and therefore easy child lost those children as playmates. Also, difficult child embarrasses easy child many times on purpose by saying inappropriate things to easy child's friends and no surprise here, he is often jealous of her friends. All of these things make maintaining friendships challenging for easy child but she does it. Still, I hope we can find her some way of connecting with kids her own age that have difficult child siblings.

    I worry about her future...I worry if I have doomed her to a life of enabling and co-dependency. These are issues I would like to discuss with a therapist.

    I know that I have waited way too long to start addressing this issue directly instead of just thinking and talking about it. My goal is to keep easy child a focus as much as difficult child as we all try to address difficult child's condition. I also need to remind myself that no one has a perfect sibling relationship...nor perfect life....and stop feeling responsible for every little bit of it.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Firehorsewoman, I feel for you, these are tough issues you face. I have nothing to offer in the way of advice for your dilemma, however, I reacted to your last statement about feeling responsible for every little bit of it. We all deal with 'stuff' no one is exempt from it. And, all our 'stuff' arms us with valuable lessons which mold us into the people we become. Your daughter is learning things which she will likely have to overcome, but she is also learning things which will shape her life in positive ways too. You can't control either. I grew up, as you all know, in a home filled with mental illness. Although it was remarkably difficult, I learned healthy life skills, compassion, understanding, a sense of humor, to not sweat the small stuff, lots of stuff. So although certainly a double edged sword, many of our childhood 'issues' become our adult strengths. Your daughter will grow in ways you can't see and with your honesty, love and commitment to her, I imagine she will be a woman with much empathy, understanding, patience and compassion, among many other traits. HUGS to you...................