Title: Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too
Author: Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Publication Year: 2012
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Review: My two kids (pre-crawling and almost 3 years) don’t seem to have any sort of rivalry at the moment. I’d like to say it’s because of this book and my awesome parenting, but really I just think I’m lucky so far. We may run into problems when my baby learns to crawl. However, I think this is a fantastic book. It mostly deals with older children, but I think any parent with more than one child could benefit from reading this book. A lot of what the authors recommend seems like common sense, but there is also a lot that is probably the opposite of what I would naturally do, though it makes sense once they explain their reasoning. For example, they suggest not treating your children equally. If one child gets a new lunchbox, the other child should not also get a new lunchbox if they don’t need it. Similarly, a parent shouldn’t say they love all their children equally. Instead they should make clear they love all their children uniquely. They say roles are destructive, even positive roles, like “the brain” or “the athlete”. Instead of introducing one’s children as “my son and my daughter” or “my oldest, middle, and baby”, a parent should always use their kids’ names. Another lesson is to allow your kids to say all the hurtful, angry things they want about their sibling and to acknowledge and listen to them, just to not let them use violence. There is a long chapter on fighting and how to deal with different levels of fighting ranging from not wanting to share to inflicting bodily harm. While I haven’t yet had an opportunity to test out the advice in this book, in principle I agree with everything they advocate. In the years to come if (when) my children start having problems with each other, I will definitely be revisiting this book.
Please note the authors have another amazing book on parenting called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. If you have more than one child and can only read one, I definitely recommend Siblings without Rivalry as this is the most effective book I have ever read on a topic that is of crucial importance to our daily sanity. However, if you have the time, How to Talk is also worth a read.
Update: I now have three kids (a few months, 2 and a half, and almost 5) and I still love this book as much as the first time I read it. My older 2 definitely have issues with each other and screaming matches once in awhile, but generally-speaking, they play together SO well. I’m extremely grateful. This third child has been my easiest newborn period, since the older two are completely engrossed in their fantasy games and make believe worlds together that they don’t even seem to notice that I’m little “busier” than usual. They do have very vocal disagreements a couple times a day, but for the most part, I’m able to refrain from taking sides. I express my confidence that they can work it out on their own and most of the time, they actually do.
(Personal Rating: 9/10)