ABC’s of Parenting: “Q” is for quarrel

medium_544242452Quarreling is a fact of life a family has more than one child. Un-scientific studies (meaning my own personal observations) show that the incidence of quarreling increases exponentially as more children are added into the equation.

There was a time when The Husband and I were certain our two younger children would never be friends; would never be able to lean on each other as they got older and life became more complicated.

Their relationship mainly revolved around bothering, whacking, and screaming. Occasionally when all three kids were involved in a project together, Oldest became a calming presence and peace reigned for a time. But we always knew that Middle Sister and The Boy were a ticking time bomb, and that parental intervention could be required at any time.

And then – miracle of miracles – things changed. They began singing together in high school and suddenly there was immense respect and a camaraderie born of their absolute dedication to honing their instruments (i.e. their voices). At about that same time, Oldest Sister went away to college, and the two left at home had to find a new way to relate to each other and to their parents.

Let me insert here that it was our family tradition that whenever one child had a special event (school concert, recital, program, etc.) the whole family attended. I have plenty of friends who disagree with that rule – they’re unwilling to put siblings through the pain of sitting through all that stuff. But The Husband and I were adamant that we were all a team, and that family support was non-negotiable. If something was important to one of us, it was important to all of us.

I really think that mindset played into the eventual onset of peaceful relations, and the (almost) end of quarreling between our siblings. They may not have realized it at the time, but watching their sibs excel at what they loved most led to mutual respect.

I saw an instance of the end of quarreling just yesterday morning:

I had to go back to work after a week of vacation, and The Boy still needed support post-wisdom tooth extraction. Middle Sister was on hand and was happy to assist, making sure she was clear on the protocol for all his meds, diet, and palliative care routine. Awesome!

And then a conflict arose. Middle Sister had plans to go out for frozen yogurt with a friend, who just happened to be The Boy’s ex-girlfriend. It turned out that The Boy had made plans to go to the same fro-yo joint with another friend at the exact same time. He absolutely did NOT want to be in the same space with his ex, and “suggested” (“insisted” would, perhaps, be more accurate) that Middle Sister change her plans.

A few years ago this situation would have ended in a knock-down fight, complete with withering sarcasm and low blows. Yesterday they worked it out peacefully, and all is well.

I wouldn’t say we’ve seen the end of the quarreling, but we have certainly reached detente. So if you’re still living in the quarreling years, just know there is hope for the future!

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc


6 thoughts on “ABC’s of Parenting: “Q” is for quarrel

  1. I see where we went wrong. My three have kind of separated from each other. Each one has their own interests, and aren’t around each other much. Maybe if we had made the family unit more sound, by taking them all to moments of accomplishments, they would be more friendly toward each other. I hope that one day they will find their way to be supportive friends to each other.


    • I think I bent over backwards working to create a tight family because I SO did not have that growing up. We weren’t miserable (well, not all the time) but we certainly weren’t a happy, healthy family unit. It would have broken my heart if our kids didn’t stick together and care for each other. I’ll bet your three will one day discover how much they mean to each other.


  2. We are definitely in those years right now. My older two are 10 and 14 — they bicker and bother each other quite regularly. They don’t get “ugly” normally, but there are moments when I wonder if they will EVER get along!
    My younger sisters, now in their 20’s, nearly hated each other when they were this age but they are now SUPER close, so I certainly think you’re right. 🙂
    But there are those days I wonder…. 😉
    P.S. Ouch about the frozen yo place thing – that would have been very uncomfortable for your son!


    • I’m especially glad our three are good buddies now, because I have very little contact with either of my two sisters. And I’m sure yours will get along great one day!


  3. I have 7 kids and the dynamics would change daily. The two oldest would bond and go against the other 5, or the middle two would do the bonding. They are all grown now and are the best of friends but it is funny to see that there are still dynamics working in them as adults as well. Nothing major though…yes there was hope in the future!!!!


    • Oh my goodness – I can only imagine the different permutations of who could gang up on who with seven kids in the mix! Congratulations on bringing them to adulthood as buddies! 🙂


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