How to Cut Down on Sibling Arguments

Happy Friday, RISERS! I hope this week has been good to you. Nothing exciting has happened in our neck of the woods, but I am on chapter seven of my new writing project so am celebrating that accomplishment. I hope you have a great weekend.

Quote of the Week: “The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” –Denis Waitley

Joke of the Week: I really wanted my bakery business to be a success, but I just wasn’t making enough dough.

Organizational Tip of the Week: I hope you can tell, after reading the quote and joke of the week, that we are talking this week about responsibilities—specifically, jobs your children can assist with around the house during the summer. We became foster parents when our biological children were ages 13 and 6. Adding two more children caused a bit of commotion right away. When our first adopted son came to live with us, he brought to light the fact that we had never really experienced sibling rivalry between our children. To keep the peace, our son had let his sister have just about anything she wanted.

I know what you’re thinking. How does this relate to chores? Well, we went from reasonably smooth sailing to everything being a fight. Who got to go up or down the stairs first. Who got in and out of the van first. And don’t get me started about who sat where. My husband and I had the great idea of assigning who sat in the preferred front seat to the child whose chore was to help with the dishes. Then, the child who unloaded the dishwasher sat in the middle. Finally, the one who set the table sat in the back. (We had a baby then, so only one middle seat was available.) The jobs and seats were rotated weekly and changed on Mondays. We also assigned jobs such as maintaining order and cleanliness in various shared rooms of the house, such as the living room, dining room, and patio. These assignments changed weekly, as well. This one practice really helped us smooth out potentially chaotic situations, such as traveling to the store or to school. No one had any questions about where they were supposed to sit.

Nugget of Wisdom of the Week: I need to tell you that maintaining order over the summer looks different for every family. It brings to mind that quote from Pirates of the Caribbean where Captain Barbossa tells Elizabeth Swann that the pirate code is more like guidelines…with room for interpretation. Some things work really well, and some things go kablooey. We implemented our kitchen rotation back in 2010, and now, 13 years later, we still rotate assignments weekly, but it isn’t tied to vehicle seating anymore. And the maintenance of other shared rooms? Well, let’s just say those rules were “more like guidelines.”

Shout Out of the Week: This week, I want to shout out to all of the people who participate in service-oriented trips to help others—anytime, anywhere. My children Olivia and Jordan participated in a mission trip to New York City this past week, and Olivia will stay in New York through the first week of July. I appreciate the many adults who work together to ensure that students are safe and who pour out their hearts to others as an example. And students, thank you for giving your time this summer to benefit complete strangers. The world needs kindness, empathy, and love for others now…more than ever. Thank you for giving of yourselves!

Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!

Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.

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