Team of Rivals

Miles and Zach

Miles and Zach


Siblings fight. About everything. The color of their toothbrushes, the number of chips in their cookie. Who touched the tree first. Who got to pick the last TV show. Who is imitating whom. And, of course, who mom and dad love the best. There is arguing, punching, scratching, wrestling, pinching, spitting, and name calling accompanied by screams and tears. Zach and Miles fight. Not fun to observe (or experience).

And Zach and Miles play foosball; stage plays; work a lemonade stand; pretend they are waiters, policemen, teachers; run 5Ks; they show pride in the other’s accomplishments (at least some of the time); worry about the other when hurt (most of the time); and need to know where the other is (at all times).They share a bedroom, a basketball hoop, and a ping pong table. Lots of fun to observe and experience (before things deteriorate into a fight).

Sixty somethings, like me, have become used to peace and quiet. While we know that kids fight, it’s sometimes unsettling to bear witness to the chaos of grandchildren’s hostile interactions. But it’s heartening to read and listen to today’s “experts” who say that most of these squabbles between siblings are harmless and are actually healthy. Arguing and fighting are how kids learn to articulate their feelings, compromise and problem-solve, and relate to others. It’s part of preparation for life in the real world where not everyone gets along. It seems that fighting between siblings can be just as developmentally important as sibling comraderie.

The parents’ role is not to referee or judge who’s right and who’s wrong but to make sure that everyone feels loved, nurtured and supported, while setting limits on the immediate disruption–separating the kids– and trying to soothe hurt feelings and hurt bodies. Fortunately these two brothers are blessed with the right parents.:)

And, of course, I recall my own sibling rivalry with my younger brother. There was the requisite yelling, punching, crying and running to mom and dad. But we survived the rivalry with an unbreakable, life-long bond. No doubt, Zach and Miles will do the same.

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Categories: wisdom

4 replies

  1. I like the title, which says much about the interaction of siblings. That rivalry for acceptance, attention and love is best role played through the staging of siblings. It’s just very difficult to experience as a relative or observer.

  2. As usual, you have described everything perfectly…..could have been talking just as easily about Nolan and Murray…I so very much enjoy reading your musings here on the other side of the world….

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