Syndrome: Oh, I'm real. Real enough to defeat you!
And I did it without your precious gifts, your oh-so-special powers. I'll give
them heroics. I'll give them the most spectacular heroics the world has ever
seen! And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so that
*everyone* can have powers. *Everyone* can be super! And when everyone's
super... [chuckles evilly] … no one will be.
Sibling rivalry can run amuck. Kids feeling constantly in competition with
one another, scorekeeping your action and expenditures. Watching each other for every little thing
they can get mad at each other about.
Bickering and fighting.
You may think that all siblings are this way, but that is
not true. In addition, it does not have
to be that way. The major problem is
that the reaction of us parents to comparisons between kids is often the
opposite of what it needs to be to diffuse the bomb that is sibling rivalry.
Syndrome (from the Incredibles) gets it, but it seems that
far too many people do not. If you
accentuate fairness in numbers and amounts, this is equivalent to accentuating
comparison. Even if what you want is
EVERYONE to feel special, the reality is that NO ONE feels special when cosmic
fairness is your aim.
Do you get your kids the same gifts or presents or things or
gum? If one gets something does the
other child HAVE to get something as well?
If you think that, you are feeding the rivalry, not merely keeping the
It is actually better (and makes kids feel more special)
when you rarely buy them stuff at the time.
It is better, if you are giving both kids something at once, to make the
items as different as possible.
Consider this exchange:
Daughter #1: You got
daughter #2 a toy. Did you get me
Me: No, it was her
birthday. You get things on your
birthday just different stuff.
Daughter #2: You got
daughter 1 a pair of shorts. Did you get
Me: No, she needed
shorts today. We get stuff when we need
Or if I got them both an item:
Daughter #1: you got
me a Polly Pocket and daughter 2 a Lego friend.
Why didn’t you get me a Lego friend?
Me: Well, daughter 1
really likes those and I noticed you had been playing with a Polly the other
day, so I thought it would be a nice surprise.
I know some of you may find it hard to believe, but kids can
handle those answers. Second, those
answers free them from focusing on the scorecard. Third, those answers stop you from placing
yourself in the middle of a sibling drama.
And lastly, read my final answer above.
That statement actually individualizes each child, showing that you are
thinking of each specially.
Accentuating fairness creates, sustains and enhances sibling
rivalry. It can create a situation where
nothing is ever good enough because kids don’t feel special. In order to feel special, they will fight for
every penny, nice comment, profession of love, trinket, parcel, widget, bowl of
cereal, pencil, dress, or piece of garbage on the face of the earth. When everybody is equal, no one has special
powers. Remember, Syndrome is the bad
Add into that our tendency of parents to have favorites, and
it is a recipe for warfare.
I think most parents want to be fair with their kids. I know I do.
We need to be fair without it being obvious and without it being a focus
of events, amounts and outcomes.
Instead, accentuate what is special about each child and allow them to
see the other get presents alone, as a special individual in a special
situation. In time, they will be happy
for one another versus rivalrous bean counters.