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Three sisters and epic levels of sibling rivalry

I think there is something truly special about three sisters. I came from a family of three sisters, and then as luck would have it, I ended up having three daughters! When I moved to Calgary, Alberta I became enthralled with a trio of peaks near Canmore known as the Three Sisters.

It is spectacular to see the big one (faith), the middle one (charity) and the little one (hope) as you drive into the Rocky Mountains. I would quietly compare them to my sibling dynamic growing up, and a similar female dynamic in our house back then and now.

Let me start by saying there are wonderful things about having siblings – especially ones of the same gender and age grouping. There is always someone to play with and the girls are hardly ever lonely. They all like the same things, you can shop for them at the same store, there’s usually lots of agreement on what movie to see, activities to choose or game to play. The whole “hand me down” idea works great at our house. Old toys, clothes and bikes get handed down between the girls and the youngest is usually very pleased to accept it all – just as I did when I was the youngest.

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But what I find the most challenging about having three girls is the sibling rivalry that happens between them. I may be wrong, but I think we have more than the normal amount. From sports and academics to clothes and even weight, I find my daughters comparing themselves regularly.

I remember taking them to the playground when they were little and before I knew it, my husband had them doing obstacle courses on the play structure. They begged him to time them and make it a race, and before long, a fight had broken out. Tears, hurt feelings and a day at the park was ruined because they’re fighting over who was the fastest, did someone cheat, why was the course different for the littlest one?

Not too long ago, my husband took one of our kids out of town for her sporting event. They stayed at a hotel, went out for dinner and he took her out for a movie in their down time. What a great bonding time for them together. He was feeling pretty special, but when the other two found out that they missed out on “Daddy” time, they were up in arms. They insisted that this just wasn’t “fair” – that the middle sister was given preferential treatment.

We made no apologies.

You see…that’s the great thing about having siblings. You quickly learn that life just isn’t always fair. One sister is good at something and you are not. One sister may get something, and you will not. There is a pecking order in the family, and sometimes privileges are doled out based simply on birth order…the benefits of being the oldest. The other two will eventually get their turn…they just have to wait.

I really believe having a sibling teaches our kids about how the real world works. We have to learn to get along, to give and take, to deal with jealousy and competition. An only child who receives everything she asks for or is praised for everything she does is in for a reality check in the real world.

Our sibling rivalry issues have improved in recent years. As my girls get older they have come to accept that if one gets something at the mall and the other doesn’t, it doesn’t mean we love them any less. If one gets a trip to France for a student exchange, it’s because she’s proven that she’s mature and responsible enough to handle that kind of adventure. These arguments aren’t always accepted by the others, but that’s ok.

It’s also been beneficial to encourage our kids into different activities – so they can each shine at different things and they are not always competing directly alongside one another. They compete enough at home.

My kids were right about one thing though…there is something to that idea of special “Dad” or “Mom” time. If and when your schedule allows, it’s a nice treat to spend one on one time with each girl individually. Removing them from the busyness of our everyday life, and letting them know they are truly unique and special, does wonders.

So, I am hopeful the girls will soon realize their sisters are their best friends… for life!

Michelle
 

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