Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to Deal With Divided Family Loyalties and Sibling Jealousy?

Once Amber was born, I expected a degree of jealousy from our son.  He had been the sole focus of our attention for more than 5 years, so it was a given that his nose would be put out of joint somewhat by the arrival of a small squealing ginger thing.

And indeed that was so.  We spent many a time fielding questions such as 'who do you love more, me or Amber?' and 'do you still love me'.  I think we dealt with it as best as possible at the time, taking the time to reassure him that whilst there was a new member to the family, our love for him was just as strong, and that we love both him and his sister equally.

In this time of adjustment, it was inevitable that he would start to spend more time with his dad.  Obviously, during the first few months most of my time was taken up by a cranky, colicky baby, so my husband used the time to introduce Joseph to the Playstation and their relationship went from strength to strength.

Fast forward a couple of years and there now feels like there is a massive divide in the family.   Each child now seems to have their own dedicated parent and if the other sibling is given any attention by 'their' parent all hell breaks loose.

Amber can be positively evil to her bigger brother, God forbid that he should come and sit next to me on the sofa or get into our bed in the morning for a cuddle.  To her, I am strictly off limits to everyone else.  I am to be exclusively hers.  Joseph is screamed at, physically pushed aside and generally considered a trespasser in her space.

On the other hand, Joseph is now becoming more and more sulky should my husband want to do anything but spend every second of his free time with him.  If he spends some time playing with Amber, this is increasingly being met with sulks, feigned illnesses or any other way of trying to divert the attention back to himself.

I am obviously keen to get our family back on track.  To a place where either parent can spend time with either child (or both at the same time) without tears and tantrums following.

I keep hoping this is just a phase, that maybe when Amber is a little older she'll develop a better bond with her dad and not be so reliant on me.  I am also hoping that Joseph becomes slightly less dependent on his father—I love the fact that they're close, but I am starting to feel pushed out—and that we can be as close as we were before Amber was born.

I'd also really like for my children to like to spend time in each other's company, rather than see each other as competition all the time.

Did anyone else experience this sibling jealousy and one-parent attachment?  How did you deal with it or is an ongoing thing that you're still experiencing?

I'd love some advice.