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Public shaming

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As my two children grow into themselves, I've noticed something that's probably glaringly obvious to others: my children have a relationship with each other that's wholly unconnected to their dad and me. During the recent two-week winter break from school, they had no choice but to play together and to negotiate who got to watch what show on TV, whose turn it was on the computer, whose game would be chosen next.

On the whole, they did quite well together, and I see them now relying more on each other for entertainment instead of us, which I suppose is part of their maturing beyond needing Mom and Dad to do everything for them. (Just the other day, the hubs and I were reminiscing about how much money we used to spend on diapers and celebrating the fact that everyone in the household is old enough to wipe their own rear ends!)

As parents, we sometimes think that the relationship between parent and child is the primary one in our children's lives. But the relationship between the children is just as important — and perhaps, in years to come, even more important. After all, they'll have each other long after we're gone, if life unfolds as planned.

And so, we as parents must do our part to nurture that sibling relationship, so that after the parents are gone, our children have each other to lean on.

There's five and a half years between my daughter and her little brother, but they seem closer in age when they play together. And unlike the 5 years that separated my two brothers, this half-decade gap doesn't seem to preclude their playing together, of having a strong relationship despite the age gap. I'm sure that will change, and soon, once my daughter hits her teen years and becomes consumed with boys and cars and jobs and college. My son will always be five years behind her, and what will seem a lifetime between 18 and 13 will perhaps not be so much between 35 and 40.

So I enjoy, for now, the relative peace between them. To be sure, there are the sudden fights, the screamed "I hate you!" and "I wish you were dead!" But those pass over quickly and then they are back playing, if not exactly together, then at least in the same room. It is settled between them now. Mom and Dad can (and do) interrupt the fight, but they generally work it out between themselves.