When siblings quarrel, many child development experts say, they learn about tolerance, patience, kindness, conflict resolution, and even that tricky life skill of what to do when a person you love does something you don’t much like. This is not a bad thing. Many child psychologists will even describe the sibling relationship as a safe and loving laboratory where children can work out these important issues for their lives beyond the family home.
The trick, experts say, is to know when normal sibling conflict ends and “rivalry” – a less beneficial form of conflict that can breed ill will and emotional damage - begins. (Different parenting coaches use different terminology here, but most make a distinction between good and bad conflict.)
The Harbaughs, it appears from press reports this week, managed to toe this line quite well. Brothers Jim and John apparently engaged in intensely competitive knee football contests, card games and pretty much everything else while they were kids. They would also occasionally beat each other up. (Sister Joani, whom one friend referred to as the Cooper Manning of the family, also apparently got in on the action.)
But today, although they’re clearly in competition, the Harbaugh brothers show an awful lot of filial love. John watched Jim’s game finish up before the Ravens played the New England Patriots. Jim called his sister’s family from the road to ask how his big brother’s team was doing. And their brother-in-law, Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean, put out this statement via Twitter:
“We can’t put into words what it means to see John and Jim achieve this incredible milestone. We talked to Jim (before) his team plane left. All he wanted to know was how was John doing? How were they playing? One incredible family who puts the care, well-being and love for each other at the forefront like most families do. Again, we are very proud of them. Going to be exciting to watch it unfold.”