Our two girls are twenty-two months apart in age. They did everything together: ballet, tennis, piano, gymnastics and Chinese School. They also fought a lot. Handling sibling rivalry was something I failed miserably as a mother. We used to take sides and blamed Jane for not being the big sister we expected her to be. If we could do it again, Joe and I would have set the boundary and let them hash it out on their own while keeping an eyes on the situation. But we weren’t wise enough back then. The fighting eventually stopped before Jane left home for college. The girls became best friends. Michelle constantly sought Jane’s advice and eventually decided to follow her sister to the same college. Needless to say the sister bond was heart warming to Joe and me.

A few weeks ago when I was in Shanghai, Joe told me that Jane and Michelle had a huge fight and neither was willing to comprise. He said he was trying to ease the tension and advised me to stay out of it for the time being. After getting home, I asked my daughters individually what caused the heated dispute. Jane’s answer was ‘I don’t know.” Michelle’s “It’s a long story.” I stated that regardless of the reasons, dad’s birthday was in 4 days and they were breaking his heart by hurting each other like this. Jane pointed out that she had tried to reconcile with Michelle who screamed at her, and therefore Michelle would have to initiate the peace gesture this time. My response to each of them was “We are family. We disagree, we argue, we lose control sometimes, but we always find a way to forgive one another. There is no other way!”

I asked Joe if we should have a family meeting to discuss the issue. He said not to force it because only time would heal. At dad’s birthday luncheon, Jane and Michelle were laughing and talking, but not to each other. I was relaxed and enjoying the moment.

Two days ago, Jane announced to Joe and me in the car when we were heading out for dinner, “You know, Michelle and I are talking again.”

“How did that happen?” I was curious.

“Michelle texted me by saying after she came home from California, we should stop the silly fight. And I said okay.”

“That makes me very happy!” I turned to Joe and saw the smile on his face spreading.

Spouses disagree, siblings fight and children get sick of their parents’ nagging. It happens everyday, everywhere. As a family, we have no choice but to put the past behind and come back together no matter how impossible it may seem. After almost two decades, Joe and I finally aced in handling sibling conflict!