It might seem like divorce is easier on kids who have siblings than on those who don’t. Parents often anticipate that their kids will help and support each other. Even if it seems like they’re always fighting about something, their parents hope they’ll put those issues aside and their sibling bond will become stronger.
In some cases, all of that does happen. In many divorces, however, siblings turn on each other – and sometimes those rifts never fully heal. That can be especially true if they each take one parent’s “side” over the other.
Why sibling rivalries can emerge or worsen amid divorce
While kids can sometimes blame one parent for the break-up and see the other as the victim, they often blame each other for the divorce. They point to issues they’ve heard their parents fighting about involving their brother or sister and are convinced – or try to convince their sibling – that they’re the reason their parents are breaking up.
Sometimes, added competition for their parents’ time and attention – which may be lacking due to the divorce and the new living arrangements – can cause or exacerbate sibling rivalries. That can be especially true if one child seems to be getting more attention, perhaps because they’re younger or outwardly displaying more problems.
Parents can make a big difference
Whatever their differences, parents need to work together to make sure their kids understand that no one is to blame – and certainly not them or their siblings. While you might enjoy feeling like one or more of your kids is on “your” side, taking sides should always be discouraged. Some families end up literally split in half forever after a divorce.
Parents can also help keep their children’s relationships with each other and either of them from fracturing by working to keep as much of their divorce out of court as possible. Aside from saving time and money, you can also avoid heated battles that will only make it harder to heal your family as it adjusts to the new normal. Having experienced legal guidance, however, is key.