I'm not ashamed to admit that when it comes to parenting advice, I'll take inspiration wherever I can get it. And while it's safe to say that my frequent viewing of The Real Housewives franchise is not the thing I'm most proud of, I also don't hide it. What can I say? It makes me happy. If I'm having a bad day I'll often let myself watch Luann fall into the bushes a few times...or the infamous prosthetic leg throw...or really any of Phaedra's one-liners but I digress. On an episode of last season's Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Kyle Richards was talking to a friend about her ongoing issues with her sisters, Kathy Hilton and Kim Richards. She got emotional speaking about her mother, "Big Kathy," was really the glue that kept them together when she was alive, that even though the girls had similar interests that often brought a competitive note into their relationship, Big Kathy worked tirelessly to make the girls see each other as a team, rather than rivals. Kyle tearfully recounted that whenever something fortunate happened to one sister, she would tell them that the person's success was a feather in all their caps. And it really stuck with me.
I've spoken before about my sons' larger gap in ages and while you might think that would make them immune to many of the classic scenarios of sibling rivalry, it really doesn't. The problem for us is that, age difference aside, they have many of the same interests; soccer, running, drawing, school work, helpfulness. There is still quite a bit of overlap and acknowledging one person's accomplishments often feels like you're holding it up as a gold standard for the other son to use as a measure which more often than not, makes them feel that they are falling flat in comparison. And that's just not the case.
Whatever feelings my husband may secretly have on my devotion to my list of Bravo shows, he agreed that it makes sense to highlight accomplishments in this way, a victory for one or the overcoming of an obstacle as a win for our whole family. A feather in everyone's cap. We quickly came to see that it really does work - my middle son's huge leap in math facts may have been due largely to his willingness to not give up and spend extra time practicing, but we also get to share in that as the people who quizzed him over dinner and encouraged him each step of the way. A toddler potty trained in a week? So proud of my little guy but you know that was a group effort. The list goes on, so many instances where someone is able to stand in triumph of an achievement, celebrate the moment and then acknowledge that others played a part, too.
I encourage you to give it a try and in the meantime I'll just be over here waiting for a grateful family to thank me for the hours and hours I've sacrificed, dutifully watching Housewives installments to find such gems.