Gen X parents- avoid being the villain in a future sibling I hate you story. Teach your kids to be a sibling team . Whether they are bloods halves or steps, team building start when you are a young family and lasts a lifetime
Perhaps new siblings could teach another a sport like baseball, soccer, or tennis. Have siblings do tasks together like helping you clean out the garage that has been moldering away with enough items to make everyone think you are a hoarder. Have a garage sale to sell toys and belongings that your children may not need any longer, but do it together.
Give jobs to everyone, like making signs and collecting cash, and have each child make money from his or her own items so there is a feeling of benefit from getting rid of items that may represent their childhood. Do not ask them to sell toys or treasures that they cannot part with. Many times our old loved toys give us a sense of self and place. Look at Toy Story 3 and how much you loved Buzz Lightyear. Find somewhere to store these treasures -if you have really frazzled kids or siblings.
Here’s an example from my book Mom Loves You Best, Forgiving and Forging Sibling Relationship .Baby Boomer Janet and her ex-husband Jack get together and organize a garage sale for their daughter Gayanne and new husband Oscar. They especially want to help out their grandchildren Vera and Roger and new step grandchild Randy. By giving the three kids a chance to work together on a project, especially one where they make a little money, these divorced grandparents feel like this is a win-win situation. It also gives Janet and Jack an opportunity to interact jointly since they have not done a lot of that since they got divorced forty years ago. But the overarching needs of their daughter and mutual love of their grandchildren make them partners in this cause, which is really to support Gayanne through her new marriage and their grandchildren through adjusting to a stepbrother. More than a little guilt hangs over both baby boomer grandparents since they know their original split-up got the ball rolling toward this garage sale they are planning.
Jack takes charge of dividing up the troops and gives all the kids a job. New stepson Randy agrees to collect all the money, Roger and Vera do the sales jobs with new customers, and Janet and Jack sit on lawn chairs to supervise the entire operation. Janet made tags for pricing ahead of time for all the sale items, and Gayanne priced her own items including a set of lava lamps left over from her mom and Trivial Pursuit, which she hasn’t played in ages.
New step dad Amos wants to help his stepson Roger and his blood son Randy get along. They are ice cold to each other after their parents’ remarriages. That ice went to subzero when they had to hack up Roger’s room, his old loved stored toys, and jam Randy into the bedroom on weekends. In their bunk beds at night there was nothing but silence and occasional complaints from the two boys. But Amos learned from the counselor he and Gayanne were seeing that some positive activities between the two boys could help. So he started taking both boys together to their Little League games. He would pick Randy up during the week at his mom’s and always have Roger along. When Randy was there on weekends, he took Roger to Randy’s games. Slowly but surely the sport that all three loved—baseball—became a positive activity that they did together, and it was a beginning bonding experience for the two estranged stepsiblings.