Tagged With siblings

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As I prepare for life with a new baby, I’ve been hearing a lot of advice on how to help my five-year-old daughter Maggie transition into her role of a big sister, a title she isn’t entirely thrilled about.

“Read her some big sibling books,” people say. (Done.) “Let her help out.” (Definitely.) “Get her a gift ‘from the baby’.” (OK, though I’m pretty sure she understands that a fetus has not had time to rake in currency in the womb.)

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As parents, you often hear about life's great injustices:

"While I was drawing, his elbow moved my hand so now my princess has a moustache!"

"She moved eight spaces instead of seven! I saw it with my own eyes."

"He ate the last lolly even though I had written on the box, 'Do not eat the last lolly!'"

You're expected to mediate, to help find a solution -- for the 17th time this morning. No more, you say. It's time call in an unbiased third party.

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Every parent with more than one child probably knows this secret: Kids will do a chore faster if you turn it into a competition. "Let's see who can fold the most T-shirts. Ready, go!" "I wonder who's going to brush their teeth and get into their pyjamas first. Hmmm. Go!" "You know, Mummy could use a massage. Who can give me the most amazing one? GO!"

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Sometimes, a decision that's even tougher to make than "Should we have a child?" is "Should we have another child?" -- and if the answer is yes, then the question becomes "When?" Sibling age gaps, AKA birth spacing, is a massive topic of analysis -- for economists, sociologists, the World Health Organisation, and most of all, parents, who must strategically weigh factors from finances, to their careers, to the annoying "clock", to the type of relationship they envision for the kids themselves. And then of course, the decision may not be in their hands at all, as it isn't like you can simply pick a date on the calendar and type in "new baby". It's very complex and very personal.

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While the subject remains taboo, most parents have a favourite child. The Wall Street Journal points to research that supports this -- in one recent study, 75 per cent of mothers confessed they felt closer to one of their adult children, while another report found that 70 per cent of fathers and 74 per cent of mothers acted on those feelings and demonstrated preferential treatment.

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When you head home to visit family, tons of childhood memories will come rushing back, along with some old family dynamics too. Some dynamics, like inside jokes or age-old traditions, are comforting and great. But others, like teasing, babying, or people not taking you seriously -- not so much. You may be a full-grown adult now, but parents and siblings can make you feel like you're eight-years-old all over again.