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These Cousins Don't Kiss

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Guest blogger Dani Klein Modisett: "Can you get him off me, Mom?" my husband's cousin's son whined to his mother. We try, we all try, but the truth is, their kid hates our kid.

Older kids laughing at the younger boy

We know it's not personal -- he's 9 and he just doesn't like 5-year-olds. Frankly, we don't care, although it does make family get-togethers challenging. Whenever the kids are out of sight and silent, my husband and I wonder if the boy is strangling our son. Not that he's known to be violent. Not yet anyway.

On my side, my sister's children are, on average, seven years older than my boys. This creates another unwelcome atmosphere for my 5-year-old who -- of course -- worships them. Now my son is relentless -- he's the Eveready Battery of small mammals.  And God bless him, but this makes him even more pesty to pre-teens.

"He won't stop following me around!" I heard one of them whisper to my sister.

So what's a parent to do? The grown-ups want the kids to get along. Why, I'm not exactly sure, except for the assumption that it will be nice for them to be able to be in the same room together when we're all dead. They can sit around at after the funerals, get drunk and reminisce about what good people we were.

Then they'll go wrangle their own kids battling each other in the next room.

Dani Klein ModisettDani Klein Modisett is the mother of 1-year-old Gideon (pictured) and 5-year-old Gabriel. She is comedy writer/creator/producer of the show "Afterbirth...stories you won't read in Parents magazine." An anthology of stories from this show will be published by St. Martin's Press, in stores in May 2009.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley September 17, 2008, 8:22 AM

I know how she feels. My husbands brother is like 14 years older than him so his kids are like16 and 11 and they are mean. OUr son is 6 and hates them. We don’t see them very often even though they only live 30 minutes away but if they happen to show up and grandma’s at the same time we do, Lucas goes and hides. Our son is grandma’s favorite and they all know it and their mom makes a big ordeal out of it. Christmas was a disaster last year. They are just so mean and rough with him. I feel bad for him that he doesn’t have cousins his age.

ak mom September 17, 2008, 2:07 PM

It’s sad that the kids don’t get along… and while they shouldn’t be forced to be BFF’s they should at least be able to be nice to each other. Adults can help the situation by participating in FUN board or card games with the kids. These types of games require conversation and interaction. With adult participation and help you can show the kids that even though they are different ages and have different interests they all like to have fun and maybe have other things in common too.
Adults can also explain to the kids how statements such as “Can you get him off me, Mom?” & “He won’t stop following me around!” make other kids feel bad and that those are not polite things to say. And point out that they would not like if somebody said those things about them.

If the kids still don’t get along then it’s time for consequences for those who are being mean. Take away their favorite video game, ipod, phone or if the situation is serious enough tell them that they’ll be grounded when they get home and give them extra chores.
When kids feel free to be mean in front of their parents, they behave even worse when the parents aren’t there. Over time if left unchecked these behaviors will only get worse. As parents it’s our job to teach the older children to be nice to other kids (younger or not).
My kids are 3 years apart (both teens now) and when they were younger they had their fair share of arguments and of course times when they were mean to each other. When all else failed I would yell STOP!, make them apologize for being mean, give each other a hug, and say I love you.
I know it sounds totally corny but it worked :O)
Even now that they’re teens when they start to argue I can use the hugging as a “threat” :O)

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