In my family, there are 3 girls, then 3 boys, then a girl. (Can you say spoiled rotten? JK sis!) The two older sisters and I fought occasionally. OK, we fought alot, like all the time. If you have siblings you know how it is. I remember one time when my sister, Jan, and I had been fighting. My mom, who I'm sure was at the end of her rope, grabbed us and made us face each other.
"If you want to fight, fine! Hit each other!"
We looked at her in disbelief.
"Go on, hit each other!"
So, what did we do? We looked at each other and started bawling.
"I don't want to hit her!"
Genius. My mom was a genius. We didn't stop fighting forever, but I'm sure she had a few hours of peace.
Fast forward 20-some years and I have children of my own. And, being children, they also fought. So, one day, I remember what my mom had done and decide to try it. I grabbed my two oldest and made them face each other.
"You want to fight? Fine! Hit each other!"
What did they do? Did they start crying? Heck, no! They hit each other. Then, they started crying. Where did I go wrong? Well, my first and biggest mistake was forgetting that my sister and I are girls and my two oldest are boys. I'm not sure how I could've overlooked that small detail. The second mistake was thinking that what worked for my mom was guaranteed to work for me.
So, now those boys are teenagers and they still fight. There's no way I'd tell them to hit each other now. Maybe forcing them to hug would be affective. It gets frustrating and tears at my 'mothering-self-esteem' to see them act that way. Looking back at the way my siblings all fought, and looking at the way we get along now, though, I have hope. I can't do everything like my parents did, but hopefully I've learned enough that my kids will follow their lead.
The real test is whether or not I survive it.