I’ll be honest, I’m the first person to admit that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I didn’t have any siblings who were close to my age. By the time I could form full sentences, my three older sisters had either moved out, or were close to it, and my step-sister and I never lived together. Sibling rivalry, I know it not.

I thought I understood the dynamics from watching my friends with their brothers and sisters. I remember the occasional name-calling or shoving match and thinking that I was glad I didn’t have to share my room, but I don’t remember seeing anyone have complete and utter disdain for a sibling until my kids came along.

Everyone tells me it’s normal. Everyone says that it’s just a phase and my kids will grow up to be kind to each other, but right now things seem awfully bleak.

I understand that it’s hard to be a 13 year old girl, because a long, long time ago I was one. You know how people say there are only two things which are certain; death and taxes? Well, if you’re a girl you can say death, taxes and hormones and when you’re 13, the wicked ones are raging. I would imagine it’s especially hard to be a 13 year girl and have a little brother with special needs. That is something I can’t pretend to comprehend.

What I do know is that my 10 year old son and his many quirks and needs are sometimes painful for all of us, but always painful for some of us. And, by some of us I mean my daughter and only my daughter. Every single thing he does annoys her. Greatly.

When you’re a teenager there isn’t anything worse than not fitting in and her little brother doesn’t. As much as I would love for her to swoop in and be the big sister who helps him with homework, reads to him at night and protects him from bullies, I have accepted this is unrealistic. It’s just not who she is. She’s more of the eye-rolling, never-speaking, ignoring type.

Of course, there are a lot of things I want that I can’t have, but giving up this dream feels harder than most. It wasn’t along the lines of having a home in Hawaii or the leading role in The Notebook alongside Ryan Gosling; this sibling-love thing seemed doable. Instead, it has turned into a sort of love-story gone wrong; mutual admiration morphed into him adoring her and asking about her day and her yelling at him and slamming the bedroom door with an, “UGH!” and “You are so annoying!” thrown in for good measure. I’ve seen people divorce over less.

Maybe I should stop expecting so much from my dreams and just be happy if they don’t end up killing each other.


  • Melisa

    Aww! I’m sure the hormones have something to do with it but I also bet that deep down, she knows that she would protect him viciously if needed. Unfortunately we sometimes treat our family members with less kindnesses that we offer to strangers. I’m guessing, knowing what a stand-up kid she is, that this is a phase and all hope is not gone for them to get along famously.

    Not the same situation, but my sister and I fought like cats and dogs until I left for college and put a little space in between us. You know the rest…

    • Momo Fali

      Oh, I HOPE! It would break my heart in two if they NEVER got along.

  • Melisa

    *than* we offer to strangers. Geez.

  • cyndy

    I have a story for you.
    Once upon a time, I cried myself sick over my two oldest kids’ relationship (my son is 2.5 yrs older than my middle daughter). I truly believed that he hated her. I even went so far as to speak to their church youth counselor about it (he blew me off).
    But one day down the road I slowly realized things had changed.
    Now, they aren’t BFFs now. I wish I could say they were, but I’d be lying and I wouldn’t lie to ya Momo. But they tolerate each other, sometimes hang out together on purpose, and in rare moments I can see evidence that they really, truly love each other.
    There is hope.

    • Momo Fali

      *holds on tight to this* *holds on REAL tight*

  • Rachel

    I’ve followed your blog for some time now but have never commented.. until now. I too, had a sibling (sister) who had developmental issues. She was way behind kids her own age, said inappropriate things, constantly embarrassing me. I too, as a 13-year old remember rolling my eyes at everything she tried to do. My friends treated her better than I did. I am ashamed as a 41 year old woman today that I treated her that way. We are not close as adults either but I’ve realized that we are just two completely different people with different interests. I love her with my whole heart & would do anything for her but we are just so different. We have a good relationship now even though we don’t see each other that often. Please keep in mind that your daughter is on a whole different level & that someday even though they may not be close that she will always have that love in her heart for him. I’m sure from the standpoint of a mother that you wish for more but sometimes it’s okay to let them just be & let it work itself out eventually. And being 13 just sucks! LOL. Give her a couple of years & I bet you will be surprised at her change in attitude towards him. God Bless!

    • Momo Fali

      Thank you for saying this. I know she loves him…deep, deep down. I would just like her to show us that once in awhile! (And, funny…her friends are very nice to him, which I think makes her resent him more.)

  • Mom Off Meth

    Oh man. My daughter is 14. And although none of her three younger brothers have special needs, she thinks them annoying and despises them. She doesn’t invite friends over (to be fair, they are relentless at trying to annoy her) and when she is home, all they do is fight. I mean screaming, door slamming, horrific fights. She isn’t the one to try and teach them to do cartwheels or play school with them. She just wishes they weren’t born.

    What I’ve figured out is that EVERYTHING annoys them at that age. Your son could be Justin Beiber and it would annoy them. (thank goodness he isn’t Justin Beiber, what a pain in the arse) Anyway, my point is that you do such a fine job of even recognizing that it isn’t easy being 13. And that is a gift. It is also all you can do.

    I’m afraid the only thing to cure this is time. This too shall pass. (Don’t you HATE that?)

    • Momo Fali

      Ugh. At least I know I’m not alone.

  • Kandice

    I have the same situation going on with my two; In fact, the same age difference as yours. Our son needs a lot of medical attention: Anxiety and Sensory Processing Disorder (“She just hit me, Mommy!”, when really it’s just her accidentally brushing up against him to get around him). Throw in Neurofibromatosis and Asthma and you have a child that needs to be cared for, a lot more than the other. I should ask if your daughter’s name is Kathryn because she sounds exactly like mine and she is only eight!!! Do I remember sibling-rivalry with my brother, who is three years younger? Oh, yes! Most definitely! And still a little to this day. I love him with all of my heart and try to explain the importance of siblings and having a family to my children. Logan worships the ground Kathryn walks on . . . I wish her feelings were the same for him; However, they do have their sincere moments, so I know I can’t give up on them. Ha! Hang in there, mom. 13 is a rough year!

  • Sadia

    I thought my sister and I had that amazing relationship we all want. When I was 13, my sister was my life. Her and school. All that mattered.

    Granted, I left for college when we were 7, but I thought the specialness would always be there. Today, at 33 and 22, we genuinely dislike each other. There’s no respect, affection or trust. I don’t see any road to a future relationship either. I wish I could trade that childhood closeness for something that had lasted.

    I’ll let you know in 7 years how my now thick-as-thieves twins navigate sisterhood and hormones. I suspect that it won’t be pretty.

    Hang in there. I wish I could make it all better, right now.

  • Colleen

    I’ve got to agree with Melisa – I fought like CRAZY with the brother that is nearest to me in age until we were adults. The younger two I never fought with so much because we’re farther apart in age, but I watched the two younger ones…it seemed they could fight and call each other names all day long but no one else ever could. They’d stick up for each other in a heartbeat! I’m sure your daughter would, too, if the situation came up!

  • Shannon

    My older daughter (almost 16) used to seem absolutely disgusted by her brother’s presence, even though he adored her (and still does). Now that he has gotten older (13) and full of his own teenage angst, she seems to have developed a wee amount of respect for him. Although she’s not throwing out hugs in his direction, and she still reponds to him with “ewwww!” quite often, she has started to see him as more of an equal. Baby steps, I guess.

  • Issa

    I remember wishing my brother would disappear. I used to tell people he was just an annoying cousin. I didn’t push him much or anything…because he was bigger than me by the time we were 2 and 4. But name calling, taunting, general ignoring, I did it all and more. Pretty sure I even tried to sell him once. I was a brat. To be fair, good god he was an annoying shit. ha.

    I think he was about 16 when we started getting along again. It took some time. The other piece is that boys mature slower. By the time were were both in our early 20’s we’d hang out often. Now, in our 30’s he is one of my absolute favorite people ever. Truly. I’ve been trying to get him to move here for years now.

    My advice? Take a step back from it. Ignore her. Tell him to give her space. They have to find it their own way.

    • Momo Fali

      Will do! If there is a chance their relationship can resemble yours and your brother’s I’ll take your advice all day long!

      • Issa

        The more involved in it you get, the worse off it may be.

  • WebSavvyMom

    –>My brother, sister and I fought All.The.Time. when we were growing up. They are also six and eight years older than me.
    Now that we’re adults, they both moved to live closer to me. I think the common denominator is that we can impersonate, talk smack and make fun of our parents Together. It’s a common thread.

  • Rhea

    I don’t have much in the way of brilliant advice, but I can offer hugs. (((Momo)))

  • frelle

    I know your mama heart hurts about this, and I think others have given you some great stories and ways to think about their relationship. They do have to find their own way, and the love they feel isnt always going to be obvious. But I believe it’s there just the same. *HUG*

  • Arnebya

    Like you, my sisters are older so I didn’t have the whole rivalry thing either. My girls are at war. A lot. It hurts. I try to push them together, I try to pull them apart thinking maybe they’ll then yearn for each other. What I get is either them still fighting or thoroughly enjoying the separation, neither of which I want. I hope your girl finds a way to find her brother less annoying (it seems to work that way; the older child is usually irked by the younger). My oldest daughter adores her little brother, though. I’m guessing the minute he steals her lip gloss that’ll be all over, though.

  • Mare

    My heart aches as I read this, b/c I have two that never got along, and, as adults, still don’t. They are very different people, granted, but my older son could not care less about his younger sister. She adored him growing up, but has resigned herself to the fact that he’s not interested in a relationship w/ her. On the flip side, my older brother teased me a lot, but as adults, we are very close. It does seem the adult children have to want it for themselves and maybe that takes a lifetime. As a parent, you just do the best you can, but they are their own people and chart their own course. I pray a lot. 🙂

  • Liz

    My twin brother and I would literally brawl in our kitchen (parents worked 2 jobs) and then clean up before mom and dad got home. Still, we had each others’ back and I adore him. Keep your chin up and the breakables out of reach. {{{hugs}}}

  • Colleen

    My brother is 3 years younger than I am. I can tell you… without a doubt… that I HATED my brother when I was 13. I loved him… but man I HATED him. And, every single thing he did annoyed the crap out of me. And we would actually physically fight sometimes (there was an event that involved a flying matchbox car hurling at my face… a black eye in jr high was AWESOME). The sibling rivalry you’re experiencing may have absolutely nothing to do with special needs… or it might.

    By the time I was 16 and he was 13 there was much less fighting and hating and annoying.

    The good news? I love my brother to pieces now. I would do anything for him.

  • Tara R.

    My kids are four years apart, and growing up there was a lot of resentment between them, mainly due to medical issues my son had. She thought we let him get away with too much, he thought she had life too easy. Through some heartfelt discussions, they learned that there were a lot of misunderstandings. They are finally friends and get a long very well. It will happen, I believe your kids will grow closer too.

  • meleahrebeccah

    Oh, it’s definitely her hormones. And it IS totally normal. And she will grow out of it, eventually. And probably, in like 10 years, the two of them will be best of friends.

  • AlisonH

    Every time you give a firm but loving “That’s not cool to treat him/her like that, I know you know better” while totally keeping your cool and giving them nothing to react to nor to justify themselves against in you, it sinks in. While they’re not letting on at all, but it does.

    Types the woman who, for one year, had four teenagers, two girls two boys.

    Hang in there. The best things I found were taking them out for ice cream cones one on on (feeding stale bread to the ducks would do–got any ducks?) or, staying up late at night with the teen after making their favorite dessert. It is amazing how much a teen will open up when you made that to make them happy *and* you’re up together past bedtime.

    I’m there with you in thought.

  • Missy

    Right now, the younger adores the older (on the Autism Spectrum). I hope it is always that way. I feel for you. You love them both dearly and when they treat each other severely, it almost feels like a cut to ourselves, instead. Hang in there! From what I’ve been reading in the comments above, there is hope.

  • Crystal

    Does ANY 13-year-old girl like their younger brother? I think not. I bet you anything she outgrows this. One day your dream just might come true. Until then, shower them with love and hang in there! 🙂

  • mrsmouthy

    Having one baby was a lot like I thought it was going to be–we played and laughed and giggled together; we baked cookies and made friends and snuggled together. Having another baby was NOTHING like I thought it was going to be. Seriously, I never thought it was possible for two boys who are loved so much to be so incredibly rotten and mean and vindictive to each other. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone!

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