Posts Tagged ‘ thanksgiving ’

Brotherly Shove: Can Sibling Rivalry Be Avoided?

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

When I was around eight, I went with my mother and sister to a flea market. I was still young enough to be excited about buying other people’s garbage, but not quite old enough to understand the complicated dynamics of the sibling relationship. I only knew I wanted to walk away from this thing with at least as much as my sister did. After scouring the general area for about an hour and finding nothing of value, I spotted what I considered to be the real “get” of this otherwise lackluster sale — an orange skateboard. It was plain, it looked cheap and used, but it was a skateboard nonetheless. A few of my friends had them, and I wanted one pretty badly. So I made an iron-clad pitch to my mother, which consisted of jumping up and down and flailing my arms like E. Honda from Street Fighter. It didn’t work. I was told that I was simply too young to own a skateboard. But who wasn’t too young, you might ask? My sister of two years my senior. She was apparently the perfect age to begin her epic journey into the world of ollies and kickflips….or to dutifully toss the skateboard into her closet under her Strawberry Shortcake backpack, never to see the street once. I’ll let you guess which of the two happened.

Before I catch heat for pointing an accusatory finger at my sister or mother, I assure you that I’ve done the same thing with my own kids. Trying to maintain a balance between my sons is potentially the most challenging part of parenting. So whenever I’m tasked with being the reluctant referee between them, I do my best to consider both of their perspectives. After all, the thought patterns of the older child are markedly different from those of the younger. In general, here’s the difference:

Older sibling’s mentality: “I was here first. Everything used to be mine. Suddenly, I’m sharing? What’s that sh*t about? Oh, and I absolutely must have more than [younger sibling].”

Younger sibling’s mentality: “I’ve had to share since Day One. Can I get anything first? A bowl of ice cream, a stapler remover, anything?! Oh, and it would be kind of nice if I had at least half of what [older sibling] has.”

Right from the start, siblings are put into a position to hate each other’s guts. And I certainly see it with my kids. It never fails. My 4-year-old son, Antonio will be building a house with Legos when my 2-year-old son, Nate will nonchalantly stroll over and knock the house down, like a tiny Godzilla. Now, I can 100% understand Antonio’s furious anger in this case. He was minding his own business when someone else came along and ruined his good time. Anyone, child or adult, would at least be mildly annoyed by that. But then there are moments that aren’t so cut and dry…

In another instance, Antonio is eating a donut. Since Nate has a soy allergy and tons of foods are off the table (literally and figuratively), he can’t eat donuts. Antonio sees this as his opportunity to taunt Nate like he’s NFL defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and had just sacked Tom Brady. Nate sees this as his opportunity to squeeze Antonio’s ear like it’s a Hypercolor shirt. Chaos ensues.

Clearly, there’s fault on both sides. And it would be unfair of us to only punish Nate for landing the first blow just as it would be unfair to punish Antonio harder simply because he’s “older and should know better.” So we punish them both. That way, they loathe my wife and I more than they loathe each other. Ultimately, it’ll save us more aggravation later.

So with that in mind, here are some strategies I intend to implement with my sons to make an attempt at curbing the dreaded sibling rivalry.

1.       Reward evenly. Punish evenly.

This likely won’t surprise my regular readers, but my wife is much more consistent with this than I am. If we come home from work with a toy for one of them, we (and by we, I mean my wife) make sure we balance out the exchange by bringing one for our other son as well. It’s not only fair, but it helps to ensure one of them doesn’t grow to be resentful of us or their brother. My only concern with this tactic, though, is it could lead to our kids still expecting precisely even treatment into their 30s and 40s. And sorry, I’m not calculating the time I spent at one of their houses for Thanksgiving down to the second. Also, it’ll make us poor.

2.       Deflate their heads, when necessary.

We all have egos, and it’s likely our siblings are the ones who have to stomach them the most. A great way to enable the growth of that ego is to raise your children to believe that they can do no wrong. I want my boys to know they are capable of doing plenty wrong. This especially applies to how they compare with kid #2. If my younger son is the less athletic of the two but excels at online chess, I want my older son to know that this is an example of him not being superior to his younger brother. Keeps the ever-precious ego in check and ensures that both my kids know that their successes are equally important to us. Besides, chess players are injured far less frequently (saves on medical bills)

3.       Remind them what brotherhood means.

You guys are brothers. That’s a special bond you share with each other and no one else. Are you really going to let a few broken bones, a girl known as “Butterscotch” and a night in jail come between you? That’s what I’m prepared to say if I’m ever at a police station at 4:00 a.m.

4.       Lead by example (don’t be a jerk).

If I’m not respectful of my wife, how can I expect either of my children to be respectful of the other? Meaning, if I’m reaching over and simply swiping the remote control out of her hand, I shouldn’t be surprised if my sons are equally as grabby. It’s especially challenging to be consistent with this (because asking “May I please have the remote, dear?” makes me feel like Mr. Rogers) but it’s crucial for us to set the tone and not be jerks with each other. If we’re constantly bickering, they’ll grow up thinking it’s acceptable to act that way. So I plan to do all of our bickering behind closed doors instead, like responsible adults.

Ultimately, my kids will have more than their share of fights. I get that. But I believe if I raise them with a healthy respect for each other’s belongings and offer regular reminders that there’s more than one king (or prince) in this castle, they’ll be well-balanced enough to both stand on the proverbial orange skateboard without falling or pushing each other off.

Do you have any strategies to avoid sibling rivalry, or perhaps an old strategy that disastrously failed? I want to hear about it! Feel free to add a comment below to keep this conversation going! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JoeDeProspero for more parenting stories, inane observations, and acutely specific social commentary.


* Photo courtesy of

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10 Things I’m Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Cynthia Roelle, mom to a 2-year-old daughter and award-winning photographer, shares her saga to lose the “baby weight” and reunite with her formerly slender self.

There can’t be much worse for my diet than a holiday synonymous with gluttonous overeating. I could spend today chewing over the setback tomorrow could bring. Or I could focus on what I have to be thankful for about my weight loss plan. I chose the latter.

10. I’m thankful I had only 25 pounds to lose. That is, as opposed to 30, 40, 50 or more.

9. I’m thankful for my husband, most days. When I told my husband I wanted to lose 25 pounds he said all the right things. It’s just that, well, he kept talking. For some reason he felt compelled to point out how hard it was going to be to stick to my plan through the holidays. I could have punched him. When I started back in September the holidays weren’t on my radar.

8. I’m thankful for crappy Halloween candy. Halloween could have been a nightmare but for the fact that I waited until the last hour to buy candy. You know, when the selection was crap. Forget doling it out a piece at a time. We gave it away by the fistfuls. Every last piece. There was no bucketful of leftovers to tempt me through New Year’s.

7. I’m thankful I started my diet when I did. Come January 2nd, when the gym is packed with walking New Year’s Resolutions, I’ll be just one week away from my goal weight.

6. I’m thankful for Lose It! It’s an app. It’s free. And I’m here to tell you it is gold money. I’ve already lost 15 pounds.

5. I’m thankful I’ve already lost 15 pounds. I figured that was worth repeating. It’s like a whole turkey.

4. I’m thankful for tofu, but not tofurky. My brother-in-law is so worried I’ll be serving tofurky tomorrow he’s planning to bring his own bird. As a quasi-vegetarian I enjoy a soggy block of tofu as much as the next guy but tofurky just doesn’t cut the mustard.

3. I’m thankful I don’t own elastic waistband pants. If ever there was a day to be thankful for the elastic waistband, surely it is Thanksgiving. But I’m thankful that even in my darkest, fattest hour, I never succumbed to this fashion catastrophe.

2. I’m thankful I won’t be serving muffin tops with Thanksgiving dinner. I can probably speak for everyone at our table on this one. Having pants that fit is definitely something to be thankful for.

1. I’m thankful for my baby, despite the baby weight. There’s no amount of weight to be gained or lost that could change how thankful I am for my sweet little girl. She’s worth every last ounce, and then some.

Diet-wise, that just about rounds out the holiday for me. If you’re also dieting through the holidays, let me know what you’re thankful for. And if you have any tips to get through tomorrow I’d like to hear those too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fia Friday: Thanksgiving In LA

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Author’s Note: Join me every Friday for a dose of cuteness as I share snapshots of Fia.  Adorable photos are guaranteed on Fia Friday!

Had a great Thanksgiving. My two girlfriends came over to help me cook, plus other friends came to eat. We had about 10 people in our new house. Was so much fun to entertain. Here’s the gist of the day:

hiking, exercise, pregnant

While Turkey Cooked, We Hiked

Griffith Park is Right Outside Our Door


Fia played with her “older girlfriend” Aggie….

Fia Loves Playing W/ Big Girls

Then Turkey Time!

Turkey Time for Ms Fi

We Are Ready for the Feast

Before bedtime, Fia and Daddy play piano….

Finally, mama relaxes…..

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