Rabbi Ross. Along with all your many readers, I want to thank you for you Avodas Hakodesh. Your advice is inspiring, and although there are some articles which I don’t agree with, by and large my wife and I have gained tremendously for your hard work. You wrote a long time ago that siblings fight. We’re ok with the kids fighting once in a while. What bothers us, is when they talk to each other. They say these horrible insults, comments which I’m too embarrassed to even put on paper. I would prefer they fought physically and get over it. These stinging insults are just so mean and we’re both really frustrated. Any advice would be much appreciated. Dovid - Flatbush
Firstly, thank you for your kind words. And I’d be concerned with anybody who agreed 100% with what I say. I like to categorize sibling rivalry into three types. The first is childish banter. “I’m way better at baseball than you are.” The second is physical fighting. The third, is the malicious comments that you’re talking about. Many parents have told me that these harsh comments usually begin once they enter their teenage years.
For those of you that aren’t aware of what comments we’re talking about, I’ll list a few that have been sent to me. “I wish you were never born.” “I truly hate having you as a brother” “You are the dumbest person I have ever met”. And these are the “nicer” ones. As parents, it’s so hurtful, not just because of what’s being said, but even more so, the malicious tone being used. One mother described it as hatred oozing from her child’s soul.
It’s not. It feels like your children have this deep-rooted hatred of one another, but they really don’t. It’s usually frustration about other things, and siblings are just an easy target. I haven’t ever done a formal study, but most siblings that don’t get along as kids seem to be fine later in life. Some siblings joke about their younger days, others pretend it never happened.
I’m not saying that you should ignore this behavior. On the contrary, this needs to be dealt with. However, it’s important to understand what the issue really is. The fact that he’s venting by saying mean things to his siblings, tells us that he needs a better outlet for his frustration. He’s obviously angry or frustrated and is saying harmful things. The goal here should be:
Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.