I have two daughters; they were born three years apart. Three years ago I separated from my husband and the girls live with me. So far so good. Oh ! I forgot one small detail, my daughters hate each other. This hateful behavior is not something that my girls were always up to. Yes! There were fights between them but they got along very well too. In fact before the divorce the girls shared a room and there were no major issues.
After the divorce, things began to take on a strange turn. The girls got a room each and there was a strange tiff between them. I was concentrating on getting back on my feet after my decade and a half old marriage had ended. Maybe it was my lack of attention or just the fact that they were uprooted from their father’s house, I really don’t know what, but my girls turned on each other. Both of them were always kind to me. They would interact well with their father too but when it came to dealing with each other, right from nasty words to even cat fights, we have had it all.
It’s difficult to say when it all started, but the day the younger one actually tried to poison her older sister, I knew I had big trouble on my hands. The two had gotten into some fight and after some nasty words being flung around, my younger daughter just poured rat poison in the older one’s milk glass. Even today I shudder to think what would have happened had she not been stupid enough to actually come and tell me that she has added poison to her sister’s drink.
The older one was a teen and I always presumed that it was this one factor that was causing the two to have problems. As a single mom my hands were always full. Be it work, groceries, taking care of the kids homework, their extracurricular, I had to take care of it all. In this I did not pay too much attention to why my girls were fighting and to be honest thought of it as a very normal thing that most siblings go through when they come close to their teens. But the poison episode rattled me and shook me to the core. I was paranoid. I yelled at my younger one so much that she got scared and locked herself in the washroom. My older daughter was crying and cursing the younger one, and I did not know which one to cater to first. After almost two hours my daughter’s calmed down. I managed to send them to bed but could not find enough peace to go to sleep. My mind was racing all over the place. I wondered if I should inform the cops, and if I should seek some kind of official help. What was a mother suppose to do in a situation like this. Right from wondering if I have failed as a mother to contemplating sending my girls to a boarding school, I did it all.
The next morning the situation was rather grim in the house. I took a week off from work and we decided to sit down and talk it out first. That did not go too well since the girls kept attacking each other the first chance they got. I called their father and he flew in the same evening. My younger one was not apologetic one bit and the older one was just in too much shock. After another day of talks, we bought in a therapist. She was known to my ex and did us a huge favor by coming home for the sessions. The amount of emotion that flowed out during the next five days was over whelming for us.
A lot of issues were bought to the front. My younger daughter had felt that the divorce broke up her family. She had latched on to her sister in this time of emotional stress who being a teen was dealing with her own issues and so did not pay any attention to her younger singer. All of this built up between them and they began to resent each other. We moved after my divorce and while the older one had made friends, the younger was having a lot of trouble in this area too. The girls were counseled and we as parents were given a lot of tips and advice also. My ex was told to spend more time with the girls, call them more often and I was asked to keep a close eye on things that were going wrong.
The one very important thing that I was asked to be careful of was how I manage the times when emotions were running high between the girls. When the girls got into a fight I would have to play referee, but I was to be very sure that I do not alienate either one of them. I do feel that during the poison episode, my younger daughter came to me wanting to confide and I got so angry and so paranoid that I scared her no end. It was only when I wanted to yell at her did I realize that she had shut herself in the bathroom.
From then on we began working on the girls and their relationship. We tried to do a lot of things together as a family. As a single parent I have to make sure that both my kids feel secure about me and do not see me as someone who takes sides or cares for only one of them. Apart from reading up a lot on the net about how to deal with sibling issues, I also take advice from other parents who may have been there. We are all putting in a lot of effort into this and do hope that in time this will be a forgotten episode, but for now it continues to scare me a bit and I would welcome any advice that other mom’s in my situation could give to me.