Ohio mom Paulita Kincer learned that her adult children were arguing with each other in a text from her daughter. Grace, 24, reported that her brother, Spencer, 22, had commandeered the TV. A battle over the channels escalated with an exchange of harsh words, and Grace recorded part of the argument before storming off to her room.
For the first time in six years, Kincer's three adult children are all home for the summer. Raising 20-something children comes with challenges, says Kincer, a former journalist who has written four novels, and dealing with sibling rivalry is one.
Kincer, 53, says she was surprised that her children — at their ages — would hurt each other with words. She later spoke to both Grace and Spencer individually. "I felt it was important to let them know that their words had hurt and to mend the relationship instead of letting the hurt percolate," she explains. Later in the evening, they apologized to each other.
Summer can heat up sibling friction, whether you have college kids home on break or are together for a family vacation. Should parents play peacemaker?
Therapist Peter Goldenthal, author of Why Can't We Get Along? Healing Adult Sibling Relationships, suggests that parents acknowledge their anxiety about potential flare-ups. "Don't think talking about it makes it worse. Just the opposite. This is where you need teamwork as parents." His other suggestions: