My daughter's a bitch and it's not my fault.
At least I don’t think it is.
I've tried everything to teach my mean daughter be a good person - a kind person - a loving sister. But she's not. Not really.
It's not that my daughter's mean all of the time. She's not even a bad person. She can actually be an incredibly loving and devoted person...so long as you're not immediate family, younger than she is, and share a mother.
She’s a polite student (mostly), a good daughter (usually), and a great friend (always!). I get rave reviews from other moms about her on playdates, “Wow! She’s so polite.” “She’s so sweet” “She’s just a pleasure!” But as soon as she’s alone with her siblings, the monster emerges. Every word out of her mouth to her little brother and sister is critical, judgmental and just plain rude.
Maybe it's because I'm a little sister. I have memories of my older sister slamming the door to her room in my face when I wanted to crash her playdates. My whole life she poked me, she teased me and would only agree to play Barbie with me if she could be Malibu Barbie. That was until she gave the doll a bad pageboy haircut - then she didn't want to play at all.
So I sympathize with my youngest girl, and notice even the tiniest drop in her smiling face, when her big sister tells her "GO AWAY!!!".
I've turned to books, experts and even sibling therapy classes to help learn how to build a supportive, loving, or at the very least amicable relationship between my children. But nothing works.
Maybe my oldest never forgave her twin brother and sister for encroaching on her territory. She had it pretty good as an only child. Our complete love and attention, undiluted by phrases like "Let your brother have a turn,” “You need to wait” and "Share with your sister."
I don't blame her for feeling angry. I just don't like it.
People tell me, MAKE her be nice!
But I don’t know how. I threaten. I punish, I cajole…
And I feel horrible for my little girl, the little sister, who will spend the rest of her life trying to gain her big sister's approval only to be rebuffed because she is considered "a splinter" in her big sister's life.
I need a solution. Soon. Recently, I stumbled upon my youngest, Livi, cleaning her big sister's room. She was making her bed and putting away her toys for her. I said "What are you doing?”
She said “I wanted to do something nice for Izzy.”
I went to find Izzy. I explained to her what her little sister was doing and told her, “You’d better go in there and say “Thank You Sooooo Much, Livi!...And sound like you mean it PLEASE!"
She squirrled up her whole face.“What?!”
“And then I want you to hug her.”
And she did.
I smiled as I watched Livi’s face light up at her sister’s acknowledgment.
Izzy’s whole face looked like she had just eaten something really bad. Then she ran off.
So here’s what I’ve concluded.
You can lead a horse (or drag it kicking and screaming) to water. You can even, apparently, make it drink. The tricky part is getting it to not make a face afterwards.