I’d never really thought about it before. But it made sense when someone explained there’s no one genetically closer to you than your siblings. Each of you has half of your mother’s DNA and half of your father’s DNA. If that’s who you’re the closest to on this planet, why then, is it such a challenge to get along with them? Maybe because you are so much alike or because you both started life out in the same spot.

I got a note last week asking, “What do I do about my five and seven year old boys.” I am constantly settling arguments. One tells on the other and it turns into a crying ordeal. I’m exhausted.”

Most of the time, at least at our house, those scuffles were over crucial issues such as invasions of three feet of personal space or breathing too much of the other’s air. They will absolutely wear parents to a frazzel. So what do you do?

Sometime when things are calm, maybe over an ice cream cone, ask the boys what they think it would take for them to argue and fuss less. Let them make some suggestions. I think parents would be surprised if they put things off on the kids to solve.

It would be good to establish a no tattling rule unless there is danger involved. Ask the kids what they think should happen when someone tattles. Some of the answers might be considered illegal in the prison systems.

The sooner they learn how to settle minor issues on their own the better off they will be later on. I know adult sisters who still fight, stomp and scream at each other. Even now they call their mother trying to get her to take sides. Their behavior instantly time-warps backwards when they disagree.

I suppose our job as parents is; to help kids understand in the end there’s no one who’ll stick with you like a brother or sister, to teach them the art of negotiation and in case of emergency, how to duck a punch.

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