Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Anyone else notice that raising children is really hard sometimes? The challenge in our house right now is managing the competing needs of Annie and Jonathan. Competing is a very appropriate choice of word, unfortunately, as J views life as a competition between himself and A.

He's never much cared for her. Classically first child, he couldn't figure out why we wanted a second child--after all, we had him! J has been pretty unpleasant to A most of her life. I have tried all manner of consequences, punishments, rewards, and outright bribes in a futile effort to change J's behavior. I am able to stop the behavior, but only temporarily. Now the dynamics between them are ugly, as Annie gave up trying to get along with him a few years back.

Every few months, there's a major conflagration between them. I know, not so abnormal for sibs to be fighting. I had sibs. We fought. My brothers shed blood between several times. That was fun.

The level of animosity J carries is very sad and beyond the norm. He talks a good talk most of the time, boasting of his superior intelligence. But during these fights, J exposes his true feelings of never, ever measuring up to his sister, who he views as having no problems whatsoever. A has everything he wants: grades to "prove" (sic) her intelligence, friends and, usually, our trust.

J, incredibly bright, struggles with meeting the standards that demonstrate such aka grades, and always has. Standardized tests? He's a whiz at those. But crafting a paper to meeting exacting requirements of content and form? Not so much. He's had few friends in his life. One at the bus stop in 8th grade. A few online buddies, including an on again, off again romance. But that's it.

As to trust. Very difficult issue. J used to say that he hadn't lied since he was 7. I don't know why he got stuck on this issue. But we knew that this statement wasn't true. He lied with regularity. Sometimes, they didn't seem like lies to him, as he can be both literal and quite black and white. Sometimes, though, he had to know.

So when it comes to deciding who to believe when A tells one story and J tells another, we tend to find her stories more viable and reliable, to Jon's great chagrin. It is a nasty position to be put it, to have to chose to believe one child over the other. If you refuse it, there is always one child who is telling the truth and hasn't been believed. If you take it, it's not healthy for either one of them, in many ways.

This was probably more appropriately a diary entry. But I needed to splash this out of my head to organize my thoughts. It's time for therapy, time to figure these things out. Wish us luck.



Blogger Suna said...

J's feelings sound a lot like how my brother felt about me. For similar reasons, only to him, he should have all the attention because he was the baby. And how dare I make good grades. We got along for a while as young adults, but when I had my first child, he got pissed off and hasn't stopped. Why? The new "baby" took the attention away from him. There, my diary entry.

Suna, who according to a "who is your ideal candidate" test agrees completely with Gravel, but has never heard him say more than a couple of words.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Liz T-G said...

Isn't that odd (about Gravel)? As you can see, I blogged today about the same thing. Gravel was my second place candidate.

Siblings never really go away, do they? For better or for worse . . . .

3:13 PM  

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