Karen Kalish made a new commitment: "I'm going to keep the communication open between my sister and me," the 44-year-old media consultant told me. "I will follow the rules... do whatever it takes to make our relationship work. You can be on it!"
I saw things the way they were and are, not the way I wished they were or could have been. Not long after, I resolved not to have anything to do with my sister or the rest of the family. I don't want it!"
"The message is," Dunn said, "that children are far more socially sophisticated than we ever imagined. That little 15-month-old or 17-month-old is watching like a hawk what goes on between her mother and older sibling. And the greater the difference in the maternal affection and attention, the more hostility and conflict between the siblings." From 18 months on siblings understand how to comfort, hurt, and exacerbate each other's pain. They understand family rules, can differentiate between transgressions of different sorts, and can anticipate the response of adults to their own and to other people's misdeeds.