Stepsibling Rivalry causing us to argue

hismineandoursJanuary 4, 2011

I think I may need to do more than post on a forum but I am just not sure. Let me start off with giving a short bio before jumping to the issue at hand. I have been with DH for nearly five years. We both have seven year old girls. Mine is eight months older and we now have a six month old boy. We have always had some communication problems when it comes to raising the children. I tend to be a strict parent as I feel that I can have a lot more quality time with the kids if they behave well. I now work from home so I have the children the majority of the time.

Things have gotten worse since the birth of our son. The BM also had a son on the same day. So now our SD has two baby siblings. There have been issues at school and with friends that are getting better, but DH does not believe I treat her as well as my own daughter. The other day we got in to an argument because he wanted to implement rules before going to a theme park (GREAT IDEA!) I read the rules, which were different for each girl, and they seemed good until he started going over them. His rule for my daughter was, acknowledge when you are spoken to. As he began to explain it to her he told her that she often ignores SD (her sister) when she is asking her questions or pretends she doesn�t hear her and that she isn�t allowed to do this anymore. Before he finished I called him in to the room to tell him that I advise her all the time to ignore her (SD) if she is becoming frustrated or annoyed and that I thought that the acknowledge the first time rule was for us. He thinks advising them to ignore each-other is unfair since my BD is much more capable of doing so. Is it wrong to have them ignore each-other? When do I alter my discipline of my child to compensate for SD? I am concerned that my BD feels resentment towards her stepsister because the only time she gets in trouble is when it relates to her stepsister.

Side note: In all fairness my BD tends to be rather aloof in general and does tend to "not hear" when she is being spoken to. On the other hand my SD tends to be rather contrary and argumentative when it comes to interactions with children in general.

My husband and I are barely speaking right now. He feels I do not treat his daughter as well as I treat my own. I understand how he can feel that way since SD does seem to need more discipline, weather it is because she is more hyper I cant be sure. In the end I try to keep the same rules for both it just seems like my SD has a harder time following them even though she has lived with mainly us for nearly five years.

Any advice you can give would be GREATLY appreciated.

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First of all, I think having different rules for different girls is ridiculous. Even if one girl has a harder time following certain rules, each girl should have the same expectations.

I had a stepsister who was also 8 months younger than me.
We were night and day. Being in the same grade, having a lot of the same friends... it was really hard.

I think your DD should be encouraged to find another way of dealing with her irritation rather than ignoring her Stepsister. It's rude and will not serve her well in the future.

Since you work out of the home and SD has a "harder time" following rules I can see how it may seem unfair to her and to dad. My stepsister had a much harder time following my mom's rules than I did. It seemed like she was always getting in trouble. I think it was a difference in parenting style between our parents, but since mom was the one home, and dad had to back her up, my stepsister got the brunt of things.

Not that you're intentionally trying to make her a second class citizen, just telling you my observations looking back as an adult on the relationship dynamic.

Also, SD has two new siblings. Think of it from her side. She has an older stepsister who lives with her dad and her stepmom.

So SD has to share dad with another girl, but other girl does not have to share mom with her. Split affection.

Then SD has a half-sibling with dad and SM and stepsister. She has to share, plus this half sibling is a WHOLE to SM and dad. And it's the same on BM's side.

SD is really at odds here. And she's little sister, too.

Do you want advice on how to deal with the girls, or how to deal with your issues with your DH?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 12:00PM
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Hmmmm, interesting. I'm going to wager that there are indeed times that your daughter provokes by deliberately ignoring the other girl...whether you want to admit it or not, but guess that's not here nor there in what's going on.

I'm also going to say that somebody chattering at me non-stop is going to annoy me sometimes more than at other times. But lining the kids up and doing what DH did 'now you must respond to _____' is silly. Seriously, if there is indeed an issue address it individually. The way 'rules' and 'explaination' session was set up was asking for a show down between DH and you and BS from the girls.

Chatterbox needs to be told to have 'quiet time' now and then from time to time. The silent one needs to be told (not in front of the other) that she is expected to be civil and polite to everyone (but she should not expect to be constantly badgered by chatter). Is there a reason SD may have a short attention span? Does she chatter to DH/you as she does to her stepsister? What do you two do at the times the girl is questioning/chattering at you both?

You advise the DD to ignore her stepsister. DH squeals the child is ignoring his daughter. I'd like to hear what you do when the SS yaks and yaks at you? Do you tune her out and ignore her? Or does she only do this chatter-chatter to your DD?

Different rules for the girls? If there really are, again would it not be better to address issues individually than in front of the girls together. To me pointing out ups and downs of each child in front of each other just re-inforces pitting one against the other. Currently when 'rules' don't suit you during 'explaination time' you call out the DH in front of the girls for a private chat?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 12:03PM
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"To me pointing out ups and downs of each child in front of each other just re-inforces pitting one against the other."

I totally agree.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 12:13PM
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The rules should be ONLY for safety concerns. Otherwise, let the children be children, for they will fight and they will make up. They will learn how to deal with each other just like they will learn to deal with others at school. They will have to learn how to resolve conflicts between them, not just run to mommy or daddy as their barking dog.

For your H to step in and force your D to acknowledge his D is just too much and will create lots of hidden frustration inside your D. Now when you and/or your H talks to your D, then she needs to at least acknowledge you because that is to show respect for her elders.

Again, let go of your idea that a strict parent will turn your children into successful adults later. Well they will become your cookie cutter, instead of their own individuality. Just let them be. Create a certain boundaries for safety, politeness, compassionate to others, and respects for your elders. Other than those, let them free to be children, to dream, to play, to get into troubles, to explore their world.

The key is your expectations - not really by what you demand of them, but by what you expect of them and by your examples in leading your own life. If you lead your life by controlling others, then that is what your children will see. If you lead your life with compassion, with love and kindness toward even a stranger, then that is what they will see as well.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 7:32PM
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Over the years I have learned that the more I "try" to solve the kids issues with eachother the further it pushes them apart. Sometimes you have to step back and let them solve their own issues with eachother unless it gets physical or really out of hand.

As for rules I think they should be the same for everyone. If you know that one child never cleans up behind themselves make a household rule about cleaning up behind yourself (even if it is really meant for one child). Fairness is a huge issue in blended families. Another thing I have noticed is that my ds gives dh a hard time when he thinks I am not paying attention. I have had to put my foot down on that. I have also told my dh to back off on discipline with my ds and let me know when issues occur and I will deal with them. It has seemed to improve their relationship.

I still struggle with my dh's reactions to the children though. My ds has adhd and can be really hyper or annoying at times to others. Dh seems to get more frustrated with him more frequently than the other kids. Something as simple as ds running down the stairs and jumping would drive dh crazy. But ss crying because video game time ending wouldn't bother him. We got into many arguments over it before he saw my side and has changed the way he reacts to things.

I guess communication is a must and needs to improve for your situation to improve.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 2:31PM
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We are really struggling with this right now,
I have a 14 yr old daughter, and a 7 yr old son.

He has a 9 yr old daughter and a 6 yr old son.

The girls have adjusted very well, and are very happy, but the boys are polar opposites, my son hss ADHD, is louder, more outspoken, his son talks in a baby voice, is passive aggressive, and meek.

When there is conflict between the boys my Partner always assumes that my son is at fault and doesnt see the ways his son quietly provokes my son.

We have tried diving into each arguement and figuring out who did/ said what and it has created alot of conflict and things are getting worse. The boys try to get each other into trouble and my partner and i are in conflict daily over it.

We are thinking about letting the boys work things out on their own, or giving them both the same punishment on the occasions that we have to get involved.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2011 at 11:09AM
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