Brother vs. Brother

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

“How long did it take SJ?” BR asked. This seemingly insignificant question came while he was in the chair at the dentist office.  The dental assistant had a drill in his mouth and water by his side should he feel the need to spit.To put it simply, it was not the time for talking.

However, for my boys, the time for rivalry and jealousy seems to be 24/7.

They love each other. They kiss each other without prompting. They play on the computer together. They feel bad if the other one is upset.


However, it seems their more natural state is to argue.

“Hey, he got more juice. It’s my turn to go on the computer.  I want to go in the bath first.”

I don’t know what has caused them to behave like this. I know children argue with each other especially when they are close in age (31 months apart).

My next older brother and I are 27 months apart. And we argued plenty. I can remember many “shut up, no you shut up sort of fights.” But other than wanting to go to go to bed later like him, I don’t remember feeling jealous. Though I suppose I was to some extent which I think is natural.

However, my children are excessive. Their whole personalities can change when each other is around: BR becomes more tense and SJ ruder.

Car rides are hell. There is no room to go to or door to shut. Our last car ride, a 25 minute trip, featured screaming from each family member and my heart rate doubling. BR had headphones yet said he heard SJ’s movie, and it was distracting. SJ insisted he choose the movie, and BR did not like the movie that was on.

Petty crap, wouldn’t you say? Typical.

Neither my wife nor I does the, “well your brother does this, so why don’t you” sort of thing. Well, maybe on the rare occasion.

Each of the children gets attention. Is it equal? Probably not.

However, I don’t believe that everything is meant to be exactly the same for each child.  They have different personalities, needs, and wants.

Again, this is grating on me, and I don’t know what to do about it. Like all parents, I want my children to be friends. I want them to be loyal and have each other’s back.

On those occasions, when they do act nicely towards each other, I am thrilled. There is something beautiful about seeing them together that brings me a great joy. (

Anyone got some advice? We have another dentist appointment coming up.

36 thoughts on “Brother vs. Brother

  1. I was the eldest, and there is 4 years between me and my sister – and we fought all the time apparently. One time I do remember it came down to fist-cuffs! I think that the only advice I have is the good news that eventually they will outgrown this phase – well, they may still be competitive, but the fights should die down by the time they are in their late teens… or early 20’s. By the time they are in their 30’s they might actually get along. 🙂

  2. Sometimes when I have had my fill I just kind of step back and see how far it goes. Probably not the best way to go about rectifying the situation but man…sometimes you just throw your hands up in the hair in defeat.

    • I have to admit I step back sometimes also. Sometimes, I think it is the right way to handle it and other times I feel bad about it.
      Either way, the fighting is annoying – especially in the car.

  3. I have NO advice. Zero. I just plug my ears and wander away and hope that they settle it before one of them kills the other.

    Parenting at its lowest form, right there. 🙂

  4. When my munchkins were younger, I stopped playing referee. If they had a problem they would have to go to the bathroom and work it out, when come tell me each in their own words their solution. If the solution was acceptable then they followed the solution and if not back to the bathroom they would go. There have been some pretty heated arguments, but has thought them to problem solve, negotiate, and work together. For me, neither one believes I am favoring the other.

  5. I wish I knew the answers, but when you find out, please let me know! The sibling rivalry and jealousy in our house can be exhausting. It’s not constant, but it’s definitely a big part of our daughters’ dynamic together. Just today, Ava and I were watching Rhys swim around the pool during her swim lesson. Ava was drinking a smoothie. Rhys stopped swimming and pointed at Ava’s smoothie. I jokingly said to Ava, “All Rhys is thinking about right now is that you have a smoothie and she doesn’t!” We laughed, but when Rhys got out of the pool, the first thing she said was, “Why did Ava get a smoothie and I didn’t?” Oy!

  6. My oldest two are 11 months apart, they have nothing in common, and they fight more in one day with each other than I have in my entire life. What I find odd is that they won’t stay away from each other despite the animosity. They can’t be alone for 5 minutes without getting bored, and they’d rather fight amongst themselves then get along with anyone else.

  7. oh!oh! I don’t know when will it stop! we are old and my brothers and I we still fight as if we were 10 years old. My tries her best to stop us when we are all together at her house for a family gathering but she can’t! I know we look ridiculous in front of our couples but it still doesn’t stop ha!ha! 😉
    it’s funny because I fight more with the youngest one now! 🙂 & yep, I remember those car trips (I feel bad for my parents now!) ha!ha! 🙂
    hope your little ones will stop fighting in maybe 10 years or so! 🙂 good luck on your next dentist appointment! 🙂

  8. I feel ya, buddy. My kids have just recently started really torturing each other. For a long time it was the younger one being a pest, but lately he has been caught doing things to deliberately antagonize her.

    I’ve seen really cute pictures online of two unhappy-looking kids together wearing one giant oversized T-shirt. On the T-shirt someone has written in marker, “This is our get-along shirt.” Apparently they have to wear it till they simmer down and agree to get along. I was thinking about trying that. It might be good for a laugh anyway.

    • My younger one fights back more these days as well. It was easier when he would just take it. I don’t blame him.
      Let me know if the shirt thing works. I am ready to try it or anything reasonable.

  9. Sorry I can’t help you either. My sister and I are about 20 months apart from each other and we fought constantly. We were better when we were younger but once we hit elementary school, it got worse. High school was the time when she tried to find ways for me to get in trouble and I would fight with her to make her stop. We didn’t start to be ‘friends’ until we were in our 30’s and had kids. I’m probably not helping, am I?

    Think the best thing to do is make sure they each have something that’s special just for them so they don’t feel like they have to share everything.

    • No, you are not helping. I do appreciate your honesty and comment though.
      I think the note about finding something special makes a lot of sense.

  10. i wish i could tell you to hang in there, it gets better…but I’m still waiting for it to get better. everyone says girls don’t get along. my girls get along much better then my boys do.

    and they argue over the tiniest things. it’s insanity. my insanity. 🙂

  11. My kids do this sort of thing too. My answer is always, “I don’t want to hear it.” It’s probably not the right thing to say but I figure at least I’m not taking sides ever. 😉

  12. Oh Larry, you are describing my kids exactly!!
    I had hoped the jealousy would diminish once they were a bit older, but no, still going strong. The only thing that has changed is that when they are not obsessing over what one has that the other doesn’t they play really nicely together.

    • Exactly, when they are not obsessing, they can and do enjoy each other’s company. I just wish those times were more prevalent.

  13. As the mother of an only child, I had planned, even hoped, for the siblings playing together and squabbling. If those around me are any indication of the typical, it seems that sibling rivalry is part of the territory. Ebb and flow. As adults, my sister and I aren’t “talk to you weekly close” but if we need each other we are there.

  14. I raised two boys who were 23 months apart in age. Totally different personalities and likes. I ran interfereance until the youngest was old enough to take on the oldest then I stepped back and said they would have to solve the problem themselves. Sometimes it boiled down to a free for all fist fight, sometimes they talked it out. Just like in real life, they had to learn to choose their battles because the war is never really won until we die. I think my boys were around 6 and 8 when I stopped playing referee. Funny thing is, once I stopped, they learned to work things out faster. Oh, the oldest pounded on the youngest, but the youngest had the smartest mouth in town and he learned to run fast. By the time they were 12 and 14, they were the better friends. By their mid teens, heaven help anyone who picked on their brother because it was them against everyone else. My oldest died when he was 21, my youngest is now 37 and misses his brother in the most profound ways.

    So, step out of the equasion and do not engage them when they are being brats. That is the best way they can divide and conquer the parents and win. If you lose your cool, they win. And they just keep on trying to one up each other. Figure it out was my most common remark, followed by Oh Well, and a shrug.

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