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Cain and Abel: Encouraging Good Sibling Relationships

Unless you have only one child, it will not surprise you that the first recorded murder took place between siblings. In fact, it may surprise you that there aren't more.  However, good sibling relationships are possible if you put forth some serious effort.  Here are some ideas to make things easier.

  • Never compare your children to each other.  Just consider how you'd feel about someone in your office if your boss said to you, "I wish you could be more like Jane."  Chances are, your first thought would not be to make Jane your best friend.
  • Encourage siblings to spend time together.  It is easy in our scattered society for siblings to be so caught up in their own activities that they lose touch with each other.  To avoid this, look for opportunities where your teens can do something with a brother or sister instead of with a friend.  This could mean playing on the same team or just going to the mall together.  The important thing is the word "together."
  • Try to create a team spirit in your family.  Most members of any sport's team have individual strengths.  However, rather than use those talents for their own advancement, good team players think of the good of the whole.  If you have a teen who is a really good cook, give her ample opportunities to cook for the family while at the same time encouraging one of her siblings to do something she's good at, like gardening.  The key is to help both see that they have individual gifts that benefit each other and that they are stronger pulling together than pulling apart.
The good news is that most teens resolve their conflicts with their siblings during early adulthood.  As they find their own independence and place in the world, they often come to appreciate those people who made them what they are:  their family.

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