And when the kids do have similar needs in a competition, it’s important for parents to stay neutral.
Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, the coaches’ parents, are not saying whom they expect to win next week. And definitely not whom they want to win. Last year, when the 49ers and the Ravens faced off for a Thanksgiving Day game, the Harbaughs reportedly didn’t even want to attend, lest they show an unbecoming display of happiness when one son beat the other.
This goes to the heart of managing sibling rivalry, of course. While there are many cases in which parenting experts say Mom and Dad should intervene – especially when one child is victimizing the other, either physically or verbally – it’s important to do this in a way that does not show favoritism. In their book “Siblings Without Rivalry,” Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish give parents some guidelines for the best ways to intervene. In most situations, they write, parents can do the following: Acknowledge the children’s anger toward each other, listen to each child’s perspective, show appreciation for the difficulty of the problem and have faith that they can work it out. And then leave the room.
Sometimes, of course, a situation is more dangerous, and then a more forceful intervention is necessary. But still, they say, you can send both kids into Time Out and not pick sides. Even with Ray Lewis barreling down.