Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Three's a crowd?

I imagine my childhood was pretty similar to that of an only child. Although I have an amazing sister, she is almost thirteen years older than me. She was always off doing her own thing when I was a kid. She got married when I was ten, and started her own family shortly after that. When I was young, I wanted to be with her and her friends all the time. When I was a teenager, I did everything in my power to emulate her. When she had my nephew, I went back to wanting to be with her all the time. As I have grown, she has become my best friend. She taught me everything I know about fashion, hair and makeup; about being a good friend and mother. Even though our relationship may be slightly different from a typical sibling relationship, I cherish it all the same.

I share this with you because as a result of our age difference, I feel I lack first hand knowledge of what a typical sibling relationship is like while growing up. This leads me to my question of the day... Is three always a crowd?

My son (R) and youngest step-son (A) are 2 months apart in age, and my middle step-son (D) is 2 years older than them. They argue ALL THE TIME!!! The constant bickering makes me crazy, but my husband Jay says it's normal brother behavior.

Is it normal though, for one child to always feel left out?

Is this is a true sibling dynamic, or is this more a sibling/step-sibling issue? Sometimes I feel that my 2 step-sons gravitate towards each other, leaving R out; but at other times I feel that it is the two seven year-olds pairing off and leaving D all by himself. We try to explain to them that you can't force someone to play a game they don't want to, or go outside if they don't want to, but inevitably someones feelings get hurt. It is very rare that all 3 of them play nicely together for an extended period of time.

There is major bickering and crying at least once per weekend. I always step in, but maybe that isn't the best thing to do. I feel like I am constantly refereeing them when we should be spending quality time together. Is it worth me getting myself worked up over? Does this go on in every household with children on the weekends? I feel like I must be doing something wrong, but again Jay says, "all brothers act this way with each other - it's normal!"

I often wonder if being a step-mother makes me worry more than most. I want their time together at my house to be pleasant and happy, I don't want to screw them up more than the divorce itself!

Is it possible that my husband is actually right about something? I really hope so, this way I can let myself off the hook for once.


Cari said...

Being the baby of 3 it seems normal to me, tho my brother and sister never left me out we had a really close family we always hung w growing up and they have a daughter my sisters age and I ALWAYS wanted to be with them yet then never wanted me (3 years younger) around them and I always was a "pest" now my sister and I are best friends!

Steph said...

Being the oldest of 4, we paired off a lot more (older/younger, bookends/middles, girls/boys), but we definitely all fought at different times growing up. We weren't all at home for long (4 years before I left for college, the baby was born when I was 14) so we only had a little time together, but the fighting is normal sibling behavior, because each kid is at a different developmental stage, and the same is likely true for your sons!

Amy Drew said...

I have the same issue with my 3 step-kids (C-9, A-8, B- 6 1/2). A & B will play but then C feels left out b/c he's not getting ALL the attention. Then B & C will play boy stuff and A doesn't want anything to do with that so she feels left out that her brothers don't want to play. If B isn't around then A & C act like they're twins, not leaving the others side for anything (even potty breaks. Eww!) Needless to say if you remove 1 from the equation at any time, they get along so much better! I'm very curious to see how things start to work out after Baby A arrives in 2 weeks or less, and to see how he/she changes their dynamic.

And I agree, step-mom's do worry more than I think the average parent does b/c they want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable in such a blended environment. They want everyone to feel like this one central place belongs to everyone and it's not "Dad's house" or "Mom's house". We want it to be seen as "OUR house".