An interview with author and professor, Dr. Vernon Wiehe about sibling abuse and how it differs from sibling rivalry. He describes a pattern of frequent victimization of one sibling at the hands of another, usually older sib, with long lasting consequences in the life of the victim. Dr. Wiehe points out that sibling abuse is even more common that domestic violence or child abuse, but is often minimized by parents. He describes ways to prevent it, including not leaving younger children alone in the care of their older siblings if the younger one doesn’t feel safe, talking to children openly about violence and sexuality, setting limits with privacy, listening to children and believing them. He also talks about the now pervasive influence of violent video games and television shows and how violence begets further violence, through modeling and desensitization. He encourages survivors not to waste time looking for an apology from the sibling who abused them, but to pour that energy into seeking healing in therapy.
An interview with researcher and the director of the More Fun with Sisters and Brothers program, Laurie Kramer. Laurie explained that siblings don’t only feel rivalry and competition, they also have times of fun and connection. She suggested that parents attempts at conflict resolution often result in separating the kids. Rather than minimizing conflict which will be ubiquitous, Dr. Kramer argues that parents should find ways to increase the amount of time spent in having fun together. It is the ration of fun to conflict that matters most. Her program teaches siblings core skills of taking each other’s perspective, managing their own strong emotions and not assuming the worst about the other’s intention. She teaches kids to Stop-Think and Talk as a way to get out of conflict. She also teaches sibs ways to engage in play with each other that is fun.
An interview with author, Christiane Wells about her experience living with bipolar disorder and addiction. Chris describes ten years spent in and out of psychiatric hospitals addicted to crack, not taking her medication and struggling with suicide. She began to get better when she decided that maybe she was not damaged after all and could give herself a shot at having a real life. She describes feeling bullied and shamed into taking her medication by doctors while in hospital. The side effects of her medications were sometimes so bad she felt she would rather die than take them. She discovered that as she started taking care of herself, protecting her sleep and creating more stability in her life, she actually needed less medication, and found it easier to take.
An interview with doctor of clinical social work, Frank Brooks about gender role non-conformity. Frank described his own experiences of feeling different and facing prejudice as he grew up. He then went on to study the powerful link between gender role non-conformity in boys and the risk of suicide. He works now with families with gender role non-conforming kids to help them protect their kids from bullying, threats, and shunning. Frank uses the term Gender role instead of gender to highlight that these roles are social constructions and are changing. He sees hope for transgender and gender role non-conforming kids as social awareness and acceptance grows.
An interview with the founder and president of the first camp for trans youth, Nick Teich. Nick describes many challenges that trans youth face as they grow up, particularly as they enter puberty and begin to develop secondary sex characteristics of the sex that feels wrong to them. The camp is for ages 8 to 15 and is designed to offer a safe place where kids can express the gender that feels right to them, among others doing the same. He tells stories of campers who benefited tremendously from meeting other kids like them for the first time in their lives. Nick also describes some of the medical options available to kids to delay puberty until they are old enough to decide whether to transition.