These children do not sail together towards magical shores, they build a world of perpetual confrontations where everyone must be the strongest in order not to lose face.. We say: “they are a bit like a dog and a cat, but they are also very complicit”. In fact, this “complicity” appears especially when it is a question of indulging in more or less permissible actions, bordering on provocation, almost surprising by the inventiveness that inspired them. It is then a nightmare for parents who have to face two devils each seeking to be stronger, more clever and tougher than the other, faced with an “opponent” represented, by force of circumstances, and also because it is the least risky, by close family: parents, grandparents… The youngest tries to compensate for his initial handicap by being more audacious big. The elder slyly uses his authority, real if not overt, to persuade the younger to do more serious mischief, only to clear himself with almost convincing innocence. When there are three children, this one-upmanship is more difficult to maintain. Alliances are formed according to age, sex, areas of interest and relationships are fluctuating. It is more difficult to constitute a united force, but two children of the same siblings and close in age can very well find themselves locked in this gear where neither would take the risk of giving in by accepting to obey because he would then let believe that he is weaker and does not possess enough mental strength to hold on.
One-upmanship in equities
There is then an escalation in the most extravagant, and sometimes dangerous actions, to prove to what point one is already daring, full of resources, obstinate in his undertakings and above all stronger than the other. The parents are totally helpless in the face of this unexpected alliance between their children and which would have been formed against them, now perceived as an enemy camp against which any dispute is permitted. This warlike attitude is inspired by the heroes of books, comics and what resembles a mythology, like Robin Hood, rebels with their own laws. But little by little the noble goal is forgotten and remains only the law that we have created for ourselves and that it would be unthinkable to transgress. It is a universe closed in on itself that these children consider coherent, while seeming to forget that they are then rising up against their parents, whom no one can ever replace. There is also an absolute difference when these children are separated. When he is alone, this child is cuddly and kind, he does not rebel, he is of service, he is an adorable child. He has nothing to prove to anyone, he can let himself be natural and quite naturally enjoy the harmony of the family atmosphere. One would be tempted to believe in a miracle until the moment when the two find themselves and, without delay, lock themselves up again in their universe with such particular laws.
Children stuck in their world
So what do they care if the adults caring for them seem desperate, these children are stuck in their world. It would be unthinkable for them to come out of it, as if they had pledged allegiance to a terrible, ruthless and cruel lord, who would not forgive any betrayal or even a simple failure. Everyone watches to avoid any hint of transgression in their acolyte and everyone strives to forget the pleasure experienced when they know the sweetness of trusting love and rediscovered peace, alone with their parents. Boys would be more effective in this construction, even if rivalry and jealousy are found with the same intensity in girls. The eldest can teleguide her younger or younger and push this ingenuous to indulge in the stupidities that she herself would dream of doing, without wanting to bear the consequences, or two sisters engage in subtle maneuvers vis-à-vis the friends for example. But their world is rarely as rigid, demanding and structured as that of the boys, who then dare not contravene its laws, although they themselves have built them. They even make them more complex as if to make them even more difficult to transgress and, in doing so, they further hinder their own will, their free will, the spontaneous impulses that would incite them to seek a hug or a simple and ineffable feeling of complicity with the one or the other of their parents, when they suddenly understand each other without exchanging words. It would be a way of exercising power over each other by blocking all autonomy and all possibility of privileged relationships: making the other unbearable in the eyes of the parents, even if it means damaging their own image.
Good self-control essential
Such tortuous thoughts are, of course, buried deep in the unconscious, but it is better to take it into account if we want to fight against this situation, unbearable for all the protagonists. This “complicity” which seems so strong would only be a mode of expression of the classic feeling of rivalry, tinged with jealousy and resentment, possible within a sibling. But it happens that its expression takes an amplified turn to the point that its components escape all the actors, who no longer even know how they arrived at these extremes. Unraveling these tangled threads requires good self-control. It is always tricky to get someone, even a child, to renounce what he considers a commitment. Transgressing laws, which suddenly seem to him to have existed forever, would perhaps expose him to far greater perils than the sad reactions of his parents.
|Advice: such situations must be understood in all their components to be effectively combated. Admonitions are not enough, the stakes are too high, and perhaps even vital, in the eyes of the children caught up in this spiral. We can nevertheless play down and dismantle the mechanisms that created these components to block an overbidding. In some cases, an external intervention is welcome or, if this spiral resists, a temporary separation can be envisaged, the ideal being to find a boarding school offering a specialty suitable for one of the children, the other having a specific activity and compensation to offer everyone a path of their own.|
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