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Siblings without rivalry – Chapter 4: Equal is less

“Even though they seem to be wanting the same things, they don’t really.”
We are really going further on the theme of the previous chapter about comparison, as equality can only be judged from comparison!

First example od the book, that I find very good:
The dad is giving out pancakes to his boys.
One complains:
“You gave him more than me
– No, I gave each of you 4 pancakes
– Yes, but his are bigger !
– No they’re not. I made them exactly the same size.”

We’ve all been through that… Trying to convince the child that he has exactly the same as his brother/sister!

Here, the idea is to let go of comparisons, and focus on each one’s need :
“You gave him more than me!
– You are still hungry?
– Yes, a little
– You’d like half more, or you’re hungry enough for a whole one?”
And if there’s no more: show that we are putting a note on the fridge: “Buy enough to make more pancakes next time.” At least the kid will feel listened to, and we’ll have shown that his wanting more has nothing to do with what is in his brother’s plate !

And an extra note in case the scene turns into a fight between the brothers, and we want to express our discontentment: “If someone judges he doesn’t have enough, this is how I like to be asked: “Dad, when you’ll have a minute, could I have more please ?””

 

Then, we can discuss about equality in terms of love
Well, there again, there is no equality, each is unique, that’s the message!!
We will thus reach further by replacing our “I love you each the same” by “Each of you is special for me. No one has your smile, your ideas! I am so happy to have you !”

 

Lastly, an example that makes me think so much about what my father in law often says (without always putting it in practice): “What each one gets depends on his needs!”

We see a mum listening to her daughter planning her birthday, and the little brother is fighting for attention, because the discussion is getting too long to his taste.
The mother, trying to give time to each of them, cuts the conversation, and the little girl, not only is sad, but obviously also feels upset with her little brother !
The authors suggests to react differently, explaining the needs to the brother : “I know, I have already spent lot of time with your sister. That’s because we are planning her birthday party ! It is very important, and needs lot of work: we need to decide on the guests, on the activities, and I really need to be concentrated. I know it is not easy for you. When we are finished, I would love you to tell me what you have been doing meanwhile.”
Acting this way, not only we answer the girl’s need, but we also show the little brother that we are present when one of them needs us!

Of course the problem comes when the sum of each one’s needs goes above what we can offer… And with 4 kids, it is a situation we know. But that is also part of having siblings.
Theoretically, and that’s where them getting along comes in handy, they win in brotherhood what they loose in parents’ time…

So to be able to know what each need without comparing with the other, let’s refuse the comparison:
“He can…, he did…
– I am not interested in talking about your brother, I want to talk about you !”

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