Suppose your mother called you one day to tell you what your sibling said and did that angered her. She mentioned a few not-so flattering words about your brother to you. Then to make the conversation somewhat relevant to you, your mother added a few negative statements your brother said about you too. Almost immediately, you become upset, because you recall that it was just the other day you spoke to your sibling and everything was okay between the both of you. However, thanks to your mother that has all changed! Although this is an example of how a parent can cause problems between sons and daughters, it is a very real situation that plays itself out in many family’s lives. Maybe it’s a father who often talks negatively about one particular son or daughter to the rest of the family. It really doesn’t matter which parent is guilty of this sort of behavior, either way, it puts some sons and daughters at odds with one another. Even worse, some parents deliberately act like the example, simply because they are angry at one particular individual and not the whole family. Rather than, deal with their issues with the offending individual, some parents prefer to get others involved; therefore, building a negative image of the offending son or daughter with the rest of the family.
Sometimes parents put their sons and daughters in the middle of bad situations that they should never be in, just because the parent is seeking a desired outcome such as: acknowledgement from a son or daughter on a holiday, borrowed money returned back to them, assistance with household tasks or business, and other things. Some people would view this sort of behavior as unfair and downright wrong to involve sons and daughters in parental disputes with other sons and daughters. But what do some parents do anyway? Keep things going, between their children! Before long, no one wants to be bothered with any family members!
A parent who has never had a brother or sister may not understand what they could be doing to cause problems between siblings. When approached about their negative actions that may be causing a rift in their children’s relationship with one another, some parents may become defensive and deny any wrongdoing. However, there are some things that parents of two or more children should keep in mind when their children aren’t getting along with one another.
One. The parent should avoid taking sides during conflicts between sons and daughters.
When there is a conflict between siblings, some parents will defend one child or the other depending on the situation. If the dispute has nothing to do with the parent, why act nonchalant about a particular son or daughter’s needs while defending another? Sometimes parents switch from one side to the next, jumping to one child’s defense this day, then the other child’s defense the next and so on, to the point that neither sibling is talking to one another or the parent!
Two. The parent should not brag about accomplishments of a single son or daughter while ignoring other children’s good deeds.
Some parents hope this tactic will motivate the other children to do better with their lives, but instead it backfires and now the accomplished one is often ridiculed or hurt by his or her siblings. To sons and daughters who have parents like this, they see a parent who is “just head over heels in love with little Suzie who can never do any wrong.” While the rest of the children, might as well just disappear. The parents’ reaction toward the son or daughter who has made them “proud” as compared to the reaction they give their other children, looks as if they are playing favorites even if they are not. Problems between accomplished siblings and the not-so accomplished may result. Sibling rivalries might increase.
Three. The parent shouldn’t boast about a favorite son or daughter’s partner while putting their other children’s mates down.
It’s not just the favorite son or daughter who gets a warm greeting, but his or her family too while the parent’s other children just look on at how the parent makes over the couple and grandchildren. The parent may not realize that not only is he or she causing problems between siblings, but now an in-law may be mistreated by his or her partner’s siblings, thanks to the parent’s braggadocios behavior. “Carol is such a good daughter-in-law! She always makes the tastiest food! I love Carol! And the children, well they are so well-behaved! I don’t mind buying them what they want! But oh, I don’t know about those other ones. Why can’t my other daughter-in-laws be more like Carol?” Imagine hearing something like this at your next family function from a parent. Would you want to return if you were a not-so favorite in-law? Would you enjoy being around Carol who beams every time her mother-in-law gloats over her in front of the family?
Four. The parent should avoid buying more for one son or daughter’s family than the others.
Some parents and grandparents are guilty of doing this around holiday times, back to school, and during the summer when their children may come around them more to observe. “Sandy’s daughter got a whole new wardrobe from mom. I don’t know what Sandy does to help mom around the house. We are over here a lot more doing for her!” says the angry sibling. “Yeah, mom is not only doing for her daughter, but for Sandy too! She doesn’t buy my children all that stuff!” says another sibling. So you see, there is a resentment that was started by a parent who dealt with his or her children and their families unfairly. If the parent doesn’t have enough money to go around, then he or she should think wisely before splurging on one son or daughter’s family and not the other.
Five. Lie or cover up a son or daughter’s actions so as to make him or her appear perfect before other children.
Sometimes children will do things that will disappoint parents. Imagine the grief a parent must feel when a son or daughter, who they put so much hope in, let’s them down. Rather than just deal with the pain and face the truth, some parents will lie or cover up for their son or daughter’s negative behavior. It doesn’t matter that siblings know the truth about something a brother or sister did or didn’t do, the parent will insist on painting a “not-so” bad picture or outright deny certain events took place. “I recall when John wrecked the last car, and I was glad he was alright that’s why I didn’t scold him for it. His friend said he wasn’t drinking this time when it happened. I know John. He might drink once in awhile. He’ll be okay,” says the parent. “Dad, John is always drinking! What planet are you living on!” says his not-so favorite son. “Now you listen here junior, you are still angry about John taking your girlfriend, huh? So now you are saying he is an alcoholic!” says the father. “Well he is and something that happened 10 years ago between he and I has nothing to do with his recent car wreck, dad! Why even bother bringing that up again?” says the son. See how easy it is to start unnecessary friction between siblings by not only denying truth, but bringing up the past to keep tensions high between children. This is what this father has done in the example.
Six. Bad mouth siblings to favorite son or daughter.
Maybe a parent is upset because he or she didn’t get any acknowledgement on a holiday from a son or daughter. So what might the parent do? Call another one of their sons or daughters on the telephone to either casually mention what their brother or sister didn’t do or blatantly bad mouth the person in the hopes that something will be said. “Your brother didn’t get me anything for Mother’s Day. After all I did for him! You know you were always my favorite, I wish he was more like you!” says the mother. “That’s okay mom. I have something nice for you. You know how Jimmy can be—he only looks out for himself!” says his sister. This is not an issue that should be talked over with another family member especially with another son or daughter. Instead, the parent should have used better judgment and talked with the one who has offended her. There is also another problem going on with this parent and that is she is openly saying that she has a favorite child. So what kind of strife do you think this will cause between siblings? Her feelings should be kept to herself, even better, she shouldn’t have any favorites! Could it be that her son didn’t acknowledge her on her holiday, because he has witnessed his mother’s poor behavior over the years with him and other siblings?
Parents, who continue to cause dissension in the family as a result of doing the previously mentioned things, are asking for trouble--especially when sons and daughters have a history of arguing and fighting between one another.
Good parents are peacemakers and will put aside personal interests and feelings to help the family, not hurt them. When you see sons and daughters are not getting along as a result of negative actions or inactions from parents, help them find some resolve without personal bias. Don’t feed into negativity when it is brought to you. Challenge the parent to think about his or her actions and how it is causing problems between children. Don’t fear you may lose a relative or friend for pointing out the parents offending actions or inactions; rather, rejoice in the fact that you opened one’s eyes to how his or her behavior is negatively impacting the family. Hopefully, the parent will take note and try different approaches.