Virtual Bookclub 101: Siblings Without Rivalry Section 7 & Afterword

Welcome back to the Childhood 101 virtual bookclub. We have been reading Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (find all SWR bookclub entries here), and in this post I am wrapping up Section 7, the Afterword and a few final thoughts of my own.

My first thought on finishing reading Siblings Without Rivalry, “I really want to read this again.” I think it could be helpful for me to have another read through in the hope that as much as possible sticks. At the very¬† least, I am intending to read over the passages I have highlighted and the pages with tabbed corners.

I have taken away so much from this book and the passage highlighted in the image above provides a fabulous summary of so much that this book teaches. Siblings Without Rivalry has already positively impacted my parenting in many simple ways, most noticeably with “say what you see,” the new mantra that runs on repeat through my head for much of the day.

One gem I took away from Section 7 was this passage shared as part of the story of a (now adult) good child confronting her mother for the first time about her role as the ‘perfect’ child in their family;

Then I asked her, “Do you know what it would have meant to me if just once you had said, “You don’t have to be so good all the time. You don’t have to be so perfect. You don’t have to be mother’s pleasure. You can be nasty, bratty, sloppy, mean, inconsiderate, irresponsible – and it’s okay. It’s normal to be those ways at times. And I’ll love you just as much.” – page 185

Immy is the first child of two first children, both with strong tendencies to please others before themselves. She is already showing herself to be a real rule follower and gets very upset if she feels that she has broken a rule or disappointed others in some way. I want her to know that it is okay and normal to make mistakes, that her needs are as important (and often more so) as those of other family members, friends and others. That we will always love her whatever choices she makes. That she is never needs to be perfect, that she just needs to be herself. It’s something we’re working on.

I appreciated many of the practical suggestions shared in the Afterword, some that will be particularly helpful now and others that I imagine will come in very handy as my girls grow up together. Those that I will be using right away include;

  • Looking for lots of opportunities for my children to have fun together, to build a foundation for a positive relationship that I hope will see them stay close as they grow up.
  • Looking for activities now that they can enjoy together despite their age difference. I am going to make a list of ideas.
  • ‘You two are a team.’ Having them work together and not in competition to get things done.
  • When an issue becomes a recurring problem, sitting down together to brainstorm possible solutions for the child to try. Writing them down and helping them to commit to trying something different next time in an attempt to solve the problem.
  • Making sure that each child gets some time alone with each parent several times a week and making sure that they remain the sole focus of attention for that time.

After reading Siblings Without Rivalry, I fully intend to seek out Faber and Mazlich’s other books as I really appreciated the practical nature and readability of their work.

I look forward to hearing your final reflections on these sections and the book as a whole. You might like to comment on;

  • One idea, tip or story that really spoke to you or that you took away as a valuable insight
  • A question for others in response to what you read
  • Your favourite passage from the book
  • A story of your own related to the themes of one (or both) of these sections that you would like to share
  • Your final thoughts on the book.

Plus, if anyone has any suggestions for our next bookclub book, I would love to hear them.


  1. I’m flagging this book as a future read. You’ve highlighted some great tips, and I’m sure there’s lots more. I want to make sure I can read it a bit closer to implementation (so as not to forget every single thing, as usual). Since I have a boy and a girl, I think it can be tricky to foster a good relationship that will last them to adulthood, or at least that’s what I’ve seen modeled in friends and family. It worries me.

    1. Hi Christine,
      I’ve seen this too – boy-girl relationships not lasting (well) into adulthood. But my own relationship with my brother I think is pretty good, although it certainly took some knocks over the teen years, and my mum’s with her little brother is too (haha, he’s 6’7″ actually, but younger than her!). Admittedly I am closer to my sister, but we are also closer in age.

      Anyway, good luck. I have a boy and then two girls, and I have to admit I am finding the girls get along better so far, but I think that is as much to do with my boy being an eldest child (read: bossy), and also my youngest only being 3, so still fairly biddable. We shall see..

  2. We just returned from vacation so I’m finally getting a minute to sit down and write something.

    I am also very glad to have read this book. While I’m currently not able to apply much of it to my own children because the baby is so young, it has proved very helpful in my dealings with my preschoolers.

    I am also currently reading How to Talk so Kids will Listen… the same authors and while similar, it does touch on other points that are good to throw in the mix.

    I think the main thing I took away from the book actually has nothing to do with my own children, but my childhood. I grew up in an authoritarian household with two older brothers who were allowed to torment me to tears on a daily basis. My parental response was, ‘work it out’, but that never came with any other suggestions or even appropriate modeling of problem solving. In a recent conversation with my husband about our older son’s behavior, it dawned on me that I’m still torn between being an authority figure (‘Do what I say because I’m the Mom’) and being a respectful listener/giving choices/etc. It takes constant attention on my part to make sure I’m doing what feels best for my family, a gentle, loving, patient and respectful approach, especially when I’m tired or otherwise frazzled.

    I will be reading this book again – probably more than once, mostly as a reminder to myself that what is most important are the feelings the child creates about himself and that the words of a trusted adult can have a huge impact on that self-image.

    Thanks for putting this together – I’d love to participate in more virtual book clubs!!

  3. I think I said last month that I really should re-read this book, and it’s still true!

    That said, I do find the team work thing really works. When I get my kids operating as a team, with a cooperative goal, things usually go more smoothly. They have such big age gaps that if it’s a matter of cleaning the house, or something equally taxing, of course my 11 year old is far more competent than my (just turned) seven year old, or three year old. But I find that’s okay *if I am working with them*. Then, he doesn’t mind when they start to skive off, because he knows I am still working harder than him!

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