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competition between siblings


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Please help me sort this out.


This is concerning my 2 older kids...dd16 and dd15.  DD has ALWAYS been reserved, timid, scared to do anything on her own, anxious etc.  She has to work hard to get what she wants...not everything she tries she is successful at or comes easy.  But she has recently become more confident in the areas she does excel it.  (more on that in a minute)  DS, just the opposite...to a fault sometimes...he just jumps in and does every he tries very well the first time. He is bold, brave, confident.  When the kids were really little, dd wouldn't do anything first...but if ds did it (going down the slide for example for the first time), then she would try it. 


As they got older, dd became more and more frustrated with ds because he was always one step right behind her in many things...and often threatened to pass her (not that he would say anything...just that if he was that close, it was threatening to her.) Prime example: piano lessons....she started a year before him...but it wasn't long before he caught up to her....he didn't have to work as hard to achieve the same as she did with twice as much work.  She didn't like that. 


Years later (like 3 years ago) we thought maybe putting her on a different instrument would help with that competition...so she started organ.  Like everything else, it took her about 2 years to really come into her own...and gain the confidence to do well, play for church and be proud of herself.  Her teacher says she is gaining much faster than a year ago.


Just the other day, my ds said, "mom, I would like to try organ"....and right away, I felt like...here we go again...same story...different instrument.  My DD just finally found something she can do that her brother doesn't do...and now he wants to do it also.  And, of course, like everything else he tries, I am certain he will learn faster than she did...and catch up to her again.  Everything we have gained with dd will go down the drain.


Is it horrible of me to tell him as that soon as she goes off to college (in 2 years) he can take organ lessons if he wants?  He already is taking piano and trumpet lessons.


I don't know if this next piece of information is important, but I grew up with 2 brothers who are like my ds and I am more like dd.  So I don't want to impose something on her, because of my experience growing up.


Thanks...for your thoughts on this matter.




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I would not let ds take lessons until your dd is away.


I did the same thing with my kids and gymnastics.


My oldest took piano, and seems to effortlessly succeed at everything like school, friends, whatever.


My second dd is much more timid and wouldn't even try anything that her sister did because she'd never measure up.


When dd2 took gymnastics, my older dd started asking for lessons. I said no because my second dd REALLY needed something that was only hers.


ETA: I wouldn't mention in particular that it was about your dd. I'd just tell him to focus on his current instruments and perhaps in a few years he can try the organ. Mentioning that it's about your dd may breed resentment.

Edited by fairfarmhand
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Just the other day, my ds said, "mom, I would like to try organ"....and right away, I felt like...here we go again...same story...different instrument. My DD just finally found something she can do that her brother doesn't do...and now he wants to do it also. And, of course, like everything else he tries, I am certain he will learn faster than she did...and catch up to her again. Everything we have gained with dd will go down the drain.


Is it horrible of me to tell him as that soon as she goes off to college (in 2 years) he can take organ lessons if he wants? He already is taking piano and trumpet lessons.

Your son is 15 and your daughter is 16? My DS12 overtakes DS11 effortlessly in anything he tries. He purposely avoid things that DS11 has more passion for so that DS11 doesn't feel a "24/7 competition". I would have told your DS15 to wait for organ since he already have piano and trumpet. There are people out in the world who are better, your DD16 needs something that won't be overshadowed by a sibling for her emotional health. At your son's age, I would expect him to extend some grace and learn the organ two years later which is easy given his piano skills.


My brother was demoralized by my academic and music achievements. My male cousin was demoralized by his younger by 2 years brother. I am not advocating anyone acting dumb but I also don't think someone should knowingly do something which would demoralize a sibling when there are other choices.

Edited by Arcadia
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I think it's pretty normal for a younger sibling to want to try the same things as their older one. And with music especially, the younger one who hears the songs the older one plays has an advantage when they try the songs as they've been listening to them for a while. 


Your dd is doing the "tougher" job by doing things first and break new ground. She's learning different life skills than your ds, even though it may look like he's often quicker at learning things than she is. And perhaps he has different strengths than she does in certain areas, though it surely can't be every single area of life.


I'd encourage you to look at the big picture of both their lives, and see where all their strengths and interests are, not just in music. Piano and organ are very similar to each other, so if he really wants to play the organ, I wouldn't necessarily stop him. I'd probably investigate further to see what it is about organ that attracts him. Maybe he is really drawn to the instrument, or maybe piano is getting harder and he'd like a break from the hard work and move onto something that seems easier. It's hard to know without knowing more about him and his passions. Would it really be fair to deny him a budding passion for an instrument just because another family member already does that activity?



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I'm not sure what to suggest. My parents tried to keep us with separate instruments, at least partially because of my older sister. I was gifted with music in that I learn new instruments fairly quickly... To a point. My older sister, was a prodigy. (As in her violin instructor, who only worked with prodigies, wanted her to practice 6 hours a day. (She quit violin at about age 11 or so.)


Now she was my older sister, so dynamics are different than the OP's. But because of of her huge tits in music or parents tried to give us different instruments. My one brother had guitar. I had organ. My sister had piano and violin (not sure if piano was started before the violin was done or not). Not sure what my other brother had. When we took Band in school it was our choice.


But my sister learned them all. She started learning organ while I was doing it... Not sure if she stood-taught at first or not.... But I know that we had to buy a better organ because she was part the abilities of ours... Eventually she had to practice at a church.


When I was in band at school the one year we were allowed to borrow various unassigned instruments to try out along with the beginner book. I will work on it when I got home from school and be doing great... Then she would get home from university and try it out and finish the book before the end of the evening...


And I never got to take violin.. the instrument I wanted to take.


So I don't know. I would want to know why, and consider based on that. Maybe organ is the younger's dream instrument. Or maybe it sounds like fun. Or if sounds easier. Or maybe there is a desire to pass up the elder. And that last option might be subconscious...


Sent from my SM-T530NU using Tapatalk

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My older two are similar though boy first then girl. The only thing keeping them apart is that they are over two years apart not under. However the flip side is, with my ds slower progress he tends eventually to really master and solidify skills in a way that my daughter doesn't. If it's the tortoise and the hare, he is the tortoise.


There aren't any really easy answers. If you tell him no, there's the possibility of resentment. If you tell him yes, she might lose the only thing that is hers. Ideally you find something that she has a stronger natural talent for or that works best with her personality but it's not always possible of course. The other option is you try to delay his start around six months or put him with a different teacher who may use different books so the comparison isn't as obvious.

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Kids are smart. Do you think your son is purposefully aiming to outshine his sister? If that's at all possible, I'd tell him no. I don't think you need to explain why you feel this way because you don't want resentment cropping up but I think you should be protective of dd's interest. She already had to change instruments once because of him. Maybe you could tell him he's already playing one instrument with keys and one brass instrument. Choose an instrument in another family and branch out.

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I agree with finding out your son's motivation - regardless of what you decide to do.  (i'd tell him no - or pick something *completely* different.)


is he deliberately trying to outshine her? (if so, why?)

is he just being  an obnoxious brother?  (my sons keep assuring me some of the things they do is just how boys relate to each other . . . :glare: )

does he feel she's getting more attention and this way he gets attention too?  just because you think it's easy for him doesn't mean he thinks he's getting the kudos he wants. 


I grew up in a family with very unhealthy competition that was subconsciously fostered by our mother and grandmother - now all three of us are fairly estranged from each other.  (other things since then, but that's what started it.) I made darn sure that didn't happen with my kids and they have a great relationship as adults.  eve so, my boys still felt intimidated by their sisters academic successes.  (reinforced by their own learning disabilities).  they've finally come into their own and doing very well in college. (their sisters root them on.)


I think you should point him in a different direction.  l might even suggest violin so they can do duets. ;p - one thing about that is they could work together, and support each other. if they've both done piano - do they do pieces for four-hands? something where they play together?

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Thank you all so much for your responses.  I really appreciate the fact that maybe I am not out of my mind to consider not letting DS take organ lessons at this time.  I do not think this is something that he is dying to do...I also am not 100% sure he is not saying this to annoy his sister.  He has so many other talents and loves, I have a hard time believing that he has been wanting to do this for a long time or anything...he just likes to try new things.


But this one thing is my dd's thing...it would so deflate her if her brother started...so I think we will wait for now.  He loves his trumpet...and his piano.  So I think we will focus on that for now.


thank you so much for the thoughts and the considerations.  I do so much appreciate it.

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