Sister Sibling Rivalry: What does a Mother do?




Sister Rivalry




“What does a Mother do? ”


This morning, my work is disturbed by three almost grown women, aged 16, 18 and 20. These quasi ‘Women’ had exploded into an all out brawl over ‘bras and panties’. At the top of their lungs, these three gals are waking the neighbourhood, taking each other’s inventory for the last ten years, and all the while I sit, hiding in the shadows, dodging the bullets that so easily could be instantly redirected at guess who? Yes, you got it! MOTHER! …for at the end of every war in a home full of girls, the credit for controversy always is tossed back to Mother, whether earned or not.


There is an old joke that my own Mother used to tell, goes like this:

” When a daughter graduates ‘summa cum laude’, she must have had a great Father!

When a daughter is arrested and put into jail, she must have had a terrible Mother!”


Now, that is quite a statement to grow past. Yet, historically that is how meny women felt for Mothers historically have been the recipients of the ‘race consciousness’ that gave them some form of total responsiblity for all that went wrong.  This attitude is changing in modern times with the ringing in the necessity of the double working family; having men change diapers has carried us a long way.  Yet, we have a long road ahead of us to erase this thinking completely.

Back to my morning for a second, “Well, my first reaction was to stay absolutely silent and when that didn’t work, I ran outside the house and took cover. They individually hunt you down rivalling for your vote. I would share all the details of this neo-classic event, but I would need to enroll in x-rated online privileges for the dialogue to actually go in print.  Therefore, sharing the ‘who took what from who story…’  in detail will have to be left to your own imagination.  Trust me, you can be extremely imaginative!

Can you relate?

All you Women out there with daughters… “Bras and Panties” 


Moving forward, I decided that ‘everything happens for a reason’ and so I researched some experts and this is what I found…. 


What a Mother can Do, starting at the beginning …

1. In the first place, when the family is expecting a new baby, the parents should begin early to talk and to convince their older children as to how important the children’s help is going to be with the caring of their new baby brother or sister. The parents should also discuss the children’s considerable responsibilities as older brothers or sisters. They should mention that these responsibilities will change with the baby’s age, and that they will continue for the rest of the siblings’ lives.

2. The parents should plan to allow sufficient time between the births of each of their children so as to try to avoid having more than one child needing the same kind of care and attention at one time. Also, as was previously mentioned, if the older child is still very young, he or she will not yet have the capacity to understand the parents’ explanations with respect to the efforts needed for the care of the new baby. A child that is still too young will not be able to understand and respond to the new baby’s arrival in a reasoned manner, but will tend to respond in a purely emotional negative way. It should be noted that Jewish law permitted an abortion if the mother already had a child that was less than two years old.

3. Parents should carefully observe their children, and continually explain to the older siblings the necessity that the parents have of their help with the care of the younger ones.

4. Parents should NEVER demonstrate a special preference for one of their children (of course, they certainly can and will HAVE such a liking or preference – the damage only occurs if the child’s other siblings become aware of this preference). Giving preferential treatment to one of their children is one of the most TOXIC attitudes that parents can have with respect to their families. This attitude will actively cause the development of rivalry among their children. EVERY child has nagging suspicions that his parents love another one of his brothers or sisters more than they love him. There cannot be any good reason for parents to encourage their children’s feelings of rivalry by confirming such suspicions (See also Sibling Rivalry and the Family Favorite).

5. Another common mistake among parents is when they tend to over-identify themselves with one (or more) of their children and to satisfy that child’s every wish or “to give that child everything that the parent didn’t have as a child.” This parental attitude will make it difficult for the child to grow out of his initial self-centered stage. It will also obstruct the development of his or her tendencies toward cooperative behavior. More than 200 years ago the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote:

“Do you know a sure way to make an unhappy child? It is to accustom that child to getting everything that he or she wants. Because, as the child grows, so will its demands. Sooner or later the child’s wishes will become larger than our capacity to satisfy them, and this unexpected denial will cause him more torment than the lack of that thing he demanded of us.”

And, from that pain will come hate and loathing. Both extremes, of too little or of too much satisfaction of their wishes, are harmful to the emotional development of children. This mistake is also frequently committed by parents of an only child, or with the oldest child, (during the time he or she is still an only child) and is also often committed by parents or caregivers who were abused or neglected when THEY were children – They are “not really” giving their child this extra love and attention, they are really giving THEMSELVES this extra love and attention (so it really is only a misguided form of parental self-love). These parents tend to feel that the only thing that their children need is LOVE.

The problem is that children that receive this kind of “overabundant” love and attention, without sufficient moral and ethical life examples and instruction, tend not to grow out of the childish self-centered stage – they may grow up to be VERY intelligent and creative adults, but they will tend to use their talents ONLY for their OWN gratification – they may also become manipulative and abusive, simply because they have not developed the mental structures to empathize with the suffering and harm they may be causing on others (See Readers’ Letters, and also Note 2, Abuse of Power).

6. Another very toxic attitude that parents have with towards their children, is showing them APPROVAL for harmful or destructive behaviors, such as a lack of respect towards the other parent, or towards any of the child’s siblings or any other person.

7. Because of the previously mentioned reasons, parents should not leave their children alone at home, with the older ones caring for the younger ones, if the oldest child is still less than twelve years old.

8. Parents need to plan and carry out frequent “family activities” with all of their children. During these, parents should try to avoid games and contests in which one of the children “wins” and the others “lose.” They should instead look for activities and pastimes in which they ALL “win” if they cooperate with one another.

9. Each child’s temperament is a matter of luck. Nature selects it at random, without asking the parents’ opinion. So then, some children are born with an abrasive temperament, are strong-willed, or may be easily angered or irritated. On the other hand, there are other children that are naturally sweet-tempered, mild-mannered, docile and obedient (The three components of a child’s temperament are usually considered to be emotional intensity, activity level, and sociability). Parents or would-be parents have to be prepared for the fact that EACH of their children will come with his or her OWN temperament, and they have to be prepared to rear and educate each one of their children working with THAT particular child’s innate temperament. What is important for the development of that child as a true human being is not the child’s temperament, but his or her character. Character is the result of the child’s innate temperament plus the rearing given by his or her parents.

10. Above all, parents need to spend TIME with EACH ONE of their children. Without asking for their consent, we brought them into this world – We need to take the time to have an active part in the shaping of their minds, to share our life experiences with them, and to become a friend to them (And, no – buying them material things instead of spending time with them will not make you their friend. Also, being their friend does NOT mean you stop being their parent or stop being the source of moral authority within the family).  

If we do not take this time, we definitely need to ask ourselves this question:

“Just WHAT was our purpose in bringing them into this world?”



I have finally decided that I was gifted with all these daughters to teach me the lessons that I need to learn about my own Mother and, all the misconceptions that I have had over the last 40 + years about her perceptions, those that she had about her own Mother and now the attitudes of this generation of their Mother, etc.

 We, as Empowered Women, must take heed to the Bible verse:  “Heal Thyself!”.   

Women must work diligently, with complete vigilance, through all the ‘issues’ that Mothers, Sisters and Daughters have endured for milleniums, so to pay forward to our world a worthy gender that is capable of Taking Action and Leadership.  Through becoming a Power of Example that one and all will want to follow, learning to trust the power of forgiveness, living in Abundance will ensure that women recognize the damages of past abuses to Women as a Whole, have certainly manifested a degree of fall-out right down to the rivalry for “bras and panties”.  The fear of lack is a common one among women, as we have struggled for freedom to work, equal pay, right to vote, etc.  These voids in equality have put women on a different plateau in general, when speaking in the realm of Abundance.  The frustration that has been passed down among generations of women, fighting for their rights, has left the Women of our Generation a huge job, and that work involves creating a change in the thinking with respect to Abundance.

This transferred anger truly is capable of manifestations in the strangest, smallest areas of life.  i.e. My brawling gals this morning still suffer the fear of lack, having watched a single mother struggle for years to build them a life that they would not be ashamed of, watching their mother sacrifice and go without, etc. and  listening to stories from their grandmother, great-grandmother. These stories of lack and struggle  has left this generation with a void in a natural faith for Abundance. 

 “God forbid someone takes from them that cherished pair of ‘bra & panties’ for they may have to go naked for days….!  LOL. 

The healing in my own home will come through my  Power of Example that women do not have to be victims,

 and that we can Rise Above our own Challenges and live a life of our Dreams!   


 Be the Power of Example in your home…let the past go!


Women of our World … 

 Take Action!



Essay, read more:

For further reading:

-David M. Feldman, 1998.
Birth Control in Jewish Law: Marital Relations, Contraception, and Abortion as Set Forth in the Classic Texts of Jewish Law.
Jason Aronson Publishers.
(With special thanks to Prof. Ann Hibner Koblitz, Arizona State University).
-Jane G. Goldberg, 1993.
The Dark Side of Love; The Positive Role of Our Negative Feelings – Anger, Jealousy and Hate.
[A truly extraordinary book – Highly recommended!]
-Frank J. Sulloway, 1996.
Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives.
Pantheon Books.
-The Bible.

Additional reading – Books and Links on Sibling Rivalry, Parenting


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