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  • Writer's pictureBradley DeRuiter

Parenting Siblings and Parenting Elderly Parents

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

How parenting skills might get better mileage when you have to transition from parenting your kids to parenting your aging parents.

Don't You
Cousins Breakfast Club Pose

A friend on Facebook posted this as she attempted to parent her daughter through a teachable moment:

How do you get siblings to get along?

I haven’t parented multiple offspring, but there was that one time that I held Camp Kimiya for two weeks with my four nieces in Arizona, while my sister, their mom, had back surgery in Texas. My sister had been home schooling them. I was a retired home school veteran with a successful prodigy finishing college summa cum laude a semester early. I was the optimal choice to corral these four unique personalities and keep their studies on track. 

A few days in and the twins had an altercation to the likes of a girl version of an MMA fight. They were ten at the time. Completely baffled by what these two intelligent young ladies had done to each other and how the emotions had acclimated so  fast and furiously, I did the most rational thing my adult self could come up with on the fly. I yelled at them and blurted out that I was so shocked and disappointed in them that I didn’t know what to do. Yes, I was vulnerably honest in that moment of responsible leadership. I told them that I was gonna need a moment to pray & ask God what to do about it!

~Silent Heavy Thud~

I wish I had an emoji for the look of shock on their faces. Now strategic is my top strength finder strength. Creativity is the essence of my being in all realms of expression. I’m not boasting or arrogant about this, I am merely humbly at peace with a healthy comfort level in my own skin with this actualization about myself. Figuring out how to discipline these two ten year old girls during a tiny biting scratchy little cat fight over a torn library book should not require assistance from a bomb squad or SWAT team. There were, however, a few unique obstacles I would have to consider while planning effective discipline to execute this operative. 

The eldest of the four sisters, old enough to need a bank account for stashing her own babysitting earnings, had warned me that should Alpha Twin need to be excused from the school room during class, that her potty break hall pass should only be for the one bathroom in the house whereby no mirrors of distraction were along the path. Alpha Twin was easily distracted with the fellowship of her own reflection in the mirror. She was easily distracted with any form of relational interaction. Ah ha! Isolation would be her punishment! 

Honestly, this inner dialogue between God and I, was going on all while Alpha Twin and her sister, Pixie Twin, were both left screaming and crying at the scene of the crime. I was pacing and praying in the hall, probably talking with my hands, “Holy crap Lord! What do I do?” 

“I can confidently say that stories of pain and courage almost always include two things:

praying and cussing. Sometimes at the exact same time." ~ Brené Brown

Granted, I am not even aloud to say, "Shut up." or use the word, "Stupid." at my sister's house, again please let me emphasize that this is my inner dialogue with Daddy.

Guess what He suggested? I announced to Alpha Twin that she was to sit on the the garage, and think about the welt she had maimed her sister, Pixie Twin, with. 

~Thunderous Volcanic Eruption~

Don’t tell me there is no God. You can not convince me that Daddy is uninterested in knowing the intricate details of our hearts and how to lovingly steward our issues as The Ultimate Parent. In order to pin point the tiny selfish bullseye of Alpha Twin’s issue, He was brilliantly crafty in tolerating (we all had to tolerate) her momentary light affliction in order that remorse and sincere concern for Pixie Twin, could be sculpted into Alpha Twin’s own soul.

She immediately flailed and flew into orbit with the ugly-cry hysterics. I apparently hit the spot. Where a moment prior, she was cold and indifferent, showing no remorse, now all of a sudden she was terrified of her worse nightmare...sitting on the step in the garage...a l o n e... with no vanity. 

You see, creativity is not only depicted in DIY projects. It shows itself valuable in problem solving and humor as well. I usually cannot take credit for my creativity as I am not my own maker. In this situation I was desperate and had no clue what to do. It’s hard to think when you’re in shock and suffering PTSD from witnessing the violence of sisters fighting. That’s why i had to call on a higher power and hope that I heard Him correctly. Apparently I did.

The brat in me, however, couldn’t resist smirking at dinner with, “Hey Alpha Twin, I’m surprised you’re still hungry after taking that bite out of Pixie Twin earlier.”

By this time they had made amends on their own accord and could both giggle at my insinuation.

How do you mold and shape compassion and sincere concern for others in your kids?

How do you nurture a sincere love amongst siblings who can’t stand each other?

I used to do mean things to my sister, justifiably because she was such a brat...and now she and I are best friends. I am not sure what changed things for our relationship. I cannot pin point what instilled a sincere compassion and concern in us for each other. I just know that we understand each other in ways that no one else does or even can.

Now my sister and I have to huddle together to stay united in care for our aging parents! We tease each other about which one of us is gonna have to eventually take care of mom or flip a coin for dad. We usually land on deciding to threaten them both by putting them in a retired home together if they don't get along at least cordially (they are divorced). 

When we mom’s finally make it through the brain fog coma of sleep deprivation and constantly changing feeding schedules with cracked dry hands from the perpetual hand sanitation of diaper changes and potty training, we tend to come out transformed into grizzly momma bears. Regardless of our momma bear status, sometimes we have to call on a higher power for creative problem solving strategies if we want optimal effectiveness. Actually, duh! Why not program that in our settings right away as an auto default response. After all, He is The Ultimate Parent.

Don't You Simple Minds

Hey, hey, hey, hey Ooh woh

Won't you come see about me? I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby Tell me your troubles and doubts Giving me everything inside and out and

Love's strange so real in the dark Think of the tender things that we were working on Slow change may pull us apart When the light gets into your heart, baby

Don't you, forget about me Don't, don't, don't, don't Don't you, forget about me

Will you stand above me? Look my way, never love me Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling Down, down, down

Will you recognize me? Call my name or walk on by Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling Down, down, down, down Hey, hey, hey, hey Ooh woh

Don't you try and pretend It's my feeling we'll win in the end I won't harm you or touch your defenses Vanity and security

Don't you forget about me I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby Going to take you apart I'll put us back together at heart, baby

Don't you, forget about me Don't, don't, don't, don't Don't you, forget about me

As you walk on by Will you call my name? As you walk on by Will you call my name? When you walk away Or will you walk away? Will you walk on by? Come on, call my name Will you call my name? I say (Lala la la lala la la) Will you call my name? As you walk on by

Songwriters: Keith Forsey / Steve W. Schiff

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