The battle lines were drawn months ago.
The conflict started over something neither party can even remember.
The impetus never mattered, anyway. I fear this war was inevitable.
It is Brother-Against-Brother in the Alperin Civil War, and our house is divided.
The boys have had disagreements in the past, but nothing prepared me for the full-blown escalation of the Sibling Wars.
Initially, my husband and I ignored the conflict between our two boys, 11 and 8. We reasoned that conflict is a part of life and that they should learn how to work through it themselves. It was easier to ignore the bickering and slamming doors.
While I certainly don't condone these behaviors, the majority of those incidents occurred upstairs, away from me. I would intervene only when the volume escalated. As they were equally responsible, I punished both and sent them to their separate bedrooms to calm down.
I thought this was just a phase. I thought they would resolve the conflict and rebuild their relationship within weeks. I thought that if I was patient and calm that things would eventually work out.
Months later, the conflict is no longer neatly contained upstairs. Every inch of our house is a potential battleground. All it takes is a quick finger-poke in the hallway, stealth kick of a foot under the table or even an evil eye shooting daggers from across the room and their temporary let's-make-mom-happy truce is torn to shreds.
The battle rages throughout our house, interrupts mealtimes and shows no signs of ever ending.
Am I doomed to live in a war zone?
It is clearly time for some serious action and for me to step into this fight and resolve it.
Yet, I am conflicted as to how this really should be solved.
After contemplating various solutions and asking others for advice, I've narrowed it down to four ideas:
1. Handcuff them together. Force them to spend every waking second with each other until they finally learn to deal with each other in a productive manner and work together.
How far do I take this idea? Do I move my 8 year old son's stuff into my 11 year old's bedroom? Do I have them wait for each other outside of the bathroom? Shower? Does this really work? Or would I end up with a trip to the ER?
2. Separate them completely. Ban them from speaking to each other, looking at each other, being in the same room with each other.
While this sounds like the quickest, quietest option, how long should I try it? A day? A week? A month? 8 years until my 11 year old graduates high school? And then what if the conflict resumes as soon as I put them back together? Do I separate them again? How long the second time?
3. Take away all privileges, indefinitely. No more video games, computer time, television viewing or social activities until they treat each other with respect.
I would think that some kind of a time frame would need to be added to this as they are siblings and fights are inevitable. Do I take away those things for the weekdays (M-F) and allow the boys to earn them back for the weekends? Do I break up the days into morning and evening parts and tell the boys that if there is no fighting in the mornings, then they can earn the privileges for evening time? How long does this last?
4. Pour a glass of wine and continue to ignore it. Let the boys continue bickering, arguing, slamming doors, glaring, poking, kicking until they finally resolve it or the 11 year old graduates and moves out. Pour a glass of wine, pop in some ear plugs and repeat as necessary.
Is this really even a possibility?
How do you handle the Sibling Wars in your house? How did your parents deal with you and your siblings in times of conflict? Please share your advice and post a comment here, on the Parenting Without A Parachute Facebook page or via twitter @PWAPgals!