5×08 Sibling Rivalry
Competition and comparison between siblings is an absolute nightmare for parents. We all want our kids to grow up to be this unit that will support, protect, love, and be each other’s best friends. How can we use the short time with them to pass this message along? We brought Parenting Expert Einat Nathan to discuss sibling rivalry, when it is healthy, and what we parents need to do in order to not pour gasoline onto the flame.
At the beginning of the episode, we came to Einat with the notion of the competition between brothers, but Einat first tought us the important distinction between competition and rivalry.
“Competition is not natural, the rivalry is natural,” Einat said. “When I’m talking about Rivalry I’m talking about a field of practice in the sibling zone which we are not 100% aware of. We’re all looking for this place of belonging, significance, attention, encouragement, all the good stuff that the parents have to offer is now a commodity, and the race for the commodity.”
Competition between brothers, Einat suggests, is an unhealthy development of the rivalry. “In competition there’s a winner, and only one winner,” she says. “That’s the difference.”
Einat says that the first thing parents should notice when they intervene in siblings’ fights is that we parents never know the full, big picture. “We see dots on a long range of time [which is the siblings’ relationship]. We become this judge because we are very edgy when it comes to every behavior that is not harmonious.”
“If we understand or accept that we know nothing. If we step in in the name of justice – we’re not doing justice. We’re only reacting to a specific scene that we’ve seen.”
“We don’t want to give our children this ideal of something that doesn’t exist, that relationship has to be quite, perfect. Relationships are messy, and they are all about communicating different needs, negotiating, explaining, getting hurt, making amends.”
“If we are curious enough, we can be this ambulance outside the field, we’re getting the hurt ones, we can be there for them. When I hear, ‘mommmy!’ I’m saying ‘I’m in the kitchen guys whoever needs me is welcome to come.”
Einat says that dissolving competition between siblings takes time, and the key for it is for us parents not to give equally to every child.
“We parents have this amazing super power,” She explains. “We know at every minute what each pone of you needs. Not wants, we don’t promise the want, but what each of you need. And we’re going to prove it but it’s not going to be equal. When they have a birthday they are able to celebrate their siblings birthday with an open heart because they know it’s going to be their turn.”
Also on competition, we talked about parents judging other parents. “We are basically wired to judge who’s in our club and who’s not,” Einat told us. “And we women are so good at that, you know. If she’s breastfeeding I’m thinking something, if she has a career and I’m a stay-at-home I’m thinking something, If she has this Instagram… and it all lands on our basic insecurity and/or on our innate need for a group, for empathy. We’re all yearning for that, against judgement and judging ourselves. And I think the minute we can accept that it’s all happening, you know, between our ears, and the subjectivity of us interpreting who’s for us and who’s against us, other people are commenting or judging or giving advise – it helps them feel superior. It’s the way that humans self-talk themselves, self-soothe themselves and find this group they want to belong to.”
Our Guest: Einat Nathan
Einat Nathan is a parenting expert, public speaker and bestselling author, certified by the Adler Institute and the Ministry of Education for Parental Instruction and Group Instruction. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in law from Tel Aviv University.Her debut book “Haimsheli”, was the national bestseller of the year across all categories (2018) and is still a steady-seller. The rights for the book had been acquired by top publishers in North America (published under the name “My Everything”, picked by Amazon editors as one of the best books of 2021) China, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Romania, Lithuania, Croatia, Turkey and the Netherlands.Her second book “Mishelanu” about parenting teenagers, came out in Israel in March 2021 and is also a bestseller.Einat lives in Tel Aviv with her husband Yuval, and her five children Eyal, Yoav, Lihi, Rona, and Shira.
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