Reading with a Psychologist: «Brothers and Sisters» by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish


Often, even at the planning stage of the first child, parents picture two or three children in their head. And, of course, in these dreams, brothers and sisters are friends with each other, love each other, never fight or quarrel. But what if the reality is completely different? For confused adults, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish are helping to figure it out.

On the modern literary market there is a lot of useful literature for parents. However, not every book and not every author clarifies the specifics of the relationship between siblings — children of the same parents, otherwise brothers and sisters. Many pedagogical works focus on the issues of raising a child as such. And even if you have several children, you can apply these methods only on each separately, individually.

But the family is not only and not so much a community of several isolated units, but also a whole system in which each participant is connected in one way or another with the others. Everyone in the family communicates with each other. Therefore, if you want harmonious relations with your children, then you need to establish communication between them, so that they are connected not only by common parents, but also by a common childhood, pleasant memories and warm, kindred feelings.

About authors

Adele Faber is now 92 years old and is an expert in parent-child relationships. She authored several books that are highly valued by moms and dads around the world to this day. Elaine Mazlish might be 95 today, but she died in 2017. Her mission was also to help parents better understand the younger generation. She organized a variety of master classes in which she used the techniques described in her books. They, in collaboration with Mazlish, have published several well-known books that are worth reading to all conscious moms and dads.

Bones book

Perhaps the sharpest stumbling block between children in the same family is competition. And far from always these are material values: toys, gadgets, clothes. The most important resource is you, the parents, or rather your precious attention. Let’s figure out how to behave and what, on the contrary, should not be done so that every child feels needed and loved, which means that the root cause of rivalry has disappeared.

There are two children in the family: the eldest — Anton, 10 years old, his sister Yulia — 6. A scene is played out several times a week: they cannot share toys. Parents do not understand the essence of the conflict. It seems to them that Anton is too old to be interested in his sister’s toys. Be that as it may, the dispute breaks out not to life, but to death. This is especially difficult when mom and dad are trying to focus on a report that needs to be sent off urgently at work, or just relaxing in front of the TV on their day off.

What not to do

To begin with, let’s analyze several models of parental behavior that are obviously wrong:

totalitarian ruler. In response to another quarrel between the children, dad rises from his chair, throwing aside a laptop with a report, and with a heavy step heads towards the children. He literally takes them to different corners, grabs toys from the floor and hides them on the highest shelf.
“Well, how many times can you say that you can’t yell like that when I’m working!” — his indignation is great, — I’m tired of your fights! That’s it, my patience is running out! I’m taking all your toys! You won’t see them until the end of the week. And if you keep yelling, you won’t even go out into the street.

Why is that bad? Obviously, in this way you simply shut your eyes loudly to the existing conflict. But it won’t run out. The youngest daughter will understand that your anger can be used against her brother. And the elder will perceive you as a hindrance, an annoying factor. You not only do not resolve the conflict between children, but also deprive yourself of trust.

The sickest parent in the world. When the degree of a quarrel heats up, the mother goes to the children.
— Well, how much can you? she asks loudly, rolling her eyes dramatically, “I’m already heartbroken from you!” I’m going to die, do you think you’ll be fine?

Why is that bad? If your heart “grabs” too often, serving as a way to calm down your brother and sister, then the elder has already noticed it for sure. He sees perfectly, and if he does not see, then he understands that this is a manipulation, a trick. Your word loses weight for him, as in a fairy tale about a boy and wolves. Of course, it is easier for you to manage your daughter because of her small age. But do you need her to feel guilty for hurting you and making you suffer?

law of age. The father goes to the children. He tries to remain calm.
— Anton, well, look at you! You are already quite an adult, soon you will be an adult guy. What toys do you already have? And the little ones need to give way, to the same girls.

Why is that bad? This behavior shows both children that they are not equal in the fight for your attention. The elder sees that he is too old, which means that he must neglect his own interests for the benefit of the small deity, which is the sister. The girl perceives this as proof that in conflict situations her parents are on her side. All of this adds to the rivalry.

Family psychologist. And no, this is not about a professional specialist, but about how a parent, not possessing the necessary competence, undertakes to appeal to the morality and ethical standards of children. Mom gently knocks on the room.
Anton, what are you doing? After all, you are kind, and kind people will always share with their loved ones.

Why is that bad? Approximately for the same reasons as in the previous paragraph. Why should Anton sacrifice his personal boundaries and give toys to his sister, if the toys are his? If they are common, then children have equal rights to them. And if the toys are sisters, then you need to explain to both children the rules of those very personal boundaries, and not mask the situation with moral norms and imaginary kindness.

Action plan

Now let’s think about what your actions will help to make your intervention as veiled as possible, and for the children to resolve the conflict on their own.

Right to Anger. Yes, each of your children has it. We all experience it sometimes even with loved ones. What matters is how we deal with it. Tell this to your sons and daughters;
The ability to listen. This is an important quality for any person, including a parent. Listen carefully to each to show that both points of view are of equal value to you;
Real problems. Next, you need to bring a short summary and demonstrate to the children that their conflict is not an empty phrase for you, it is not easy and requires the efforts of both parties;
Faith in effort. Say that you know that they are both smart enough and capable of dialogue to resolve this dispute calmly;
Leave the battlefield. This is not your fight. You were not invited or asked to join. Let the children show independence and pump the skill of solving such situations that they will meet more than once on the way.

Probably, from time to time these actions will have to be repeated again and again, but gradually the skill of getting out of the dispute will grow in both children, and the result will not be long in coming.

Here, another problem of modern parents who grew up in the post-Soviet space is revealed. Many of them had brothers and sisters. However, their parents, now grandparents, did not consider the conflicts between them to be something significant, they did not consider that they needed to be resolved. Because of this, adults today have many traumas and do not know how to help their children cope with similar situations. And books such as «Brothers and Sisters» by Faber and Mazlish are a real lifesaver for them.


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