'A kids' movie proved to me that sibling rivalry is actually a good thing.'

Universal Pictures
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It's 9 pm, and my kids are bickering about the rules of table tennis. In hindsight, they have been arguing about the rules since the September school holidays when my bored teen 're-zoned' the dining table for table tennis.  

Whilst some parents might rush in, squashing the argument and preaching the virtues of cooperation, I pretend not to hear and stay in my office drinking tea. 

Why? Well, I’m a firm believer that a little healthy competition between siblings is a good thing.


Image: Supplied. 


The game and laughter resume, I breathe a sigh of relief and secretly high-five myself that the kids are learning through the fine art of rivalry. Sure, I might be in the minority of parents who let it play out, but I try, as often as humanly possible, to find that delicate balance between cooperation and competition.

Which is why I'm so excited for my kids to see the latest animated movie from Universal Studios and Illumination Studios, Migration. It’s an action-packed adventure of a duck family, the Mallards, going on their first-ever migration south for winter. Could there be a better time for some sibling rivalry than an overseas vacation?

I had high expectations. 

After all, the creators of Minions, Despicable Me, Sing, and Secret Life have magical powers to create family movies that parents love to watch just as much as the kids – no easy feat. But beyond the many laugh-out-loud moments (and most incredible musical score), Migration made me smile because it showed me that my kids aren’t alone in their competitive streak.

The story begins in the Mallard’s New England Pond, where the dad, Mack, plans to keep his family forever. 

Despite mum Pam’s eagerness for her family to 'spread their wings,' Mack wants to keep them safe by going nowhere and talking to no one. Like most teens I know, the teen son, Dax, isn’t keen on the 'play it safe' strategy. 

Siblings, Dax and Gwen in Migration. Image: Universal Pictures. 


When a migrating duck family lands on the pond, Dax is the first to break the rules and talk to the migrating ducks, much to the horror of his sister Gwen, who doesn’t want to get in trouble with Dad.

Cue the bickering. It's like being at home listening to the kids play table tennis.

As the animated tale unfolds, I couldn't help but reflect on why a bit of sibling rivalry isn’t the end of the world.

Being pushed outside our comfort zone.

Image: Supplied. 


My 10-year-old is determined to match his older brothers at everything. 

He doesn’t seem to notice or worry that he is three years younger. Instead, he sees what they are doing and wants to be in on the action, playing rugby, catching a wave, or doing wheelies on his bike. 

FOMO? No, he just wants to be like them. He is constantly pushing himself beyond his comfort zone to prove her can keep up with his brothers.

Whilst this undoubtedly annoys his brothers, who sometimes want space, he thrives on the challenge, never for one minute worried he isn’t ready for it.


Learning to win and lose.

In life, winning is awesome, and losing hurts.  

Do I want my kids sheltered from the pain of losing? Sure, I wish I could protect them from feeling down, just like Mack wanted to do by keeping his family safe in their pond. But we all lose at things all the time. 

Whether you are 8 or 38 years old, it feels awful when you:

  • Lose a sports game

  • Don’t get invited to a party

  • Fail a test

Like Pam, I am not a 'wrap-them-in-bubble-wrap' mother. I want the kids to experience the highs of winning and bounce back with resilience from losing. My role is to be there, celebrating, and commiserating so they learn to handle it all with grace. 

Where better to learn to deal with winning and losing than through a fierce game of family table tennis or touch footy?

The joy of shared experiences.

Image: Supplied. 


Watching Dax and Gwen have a 'cloud-ball' fight reminded me that the best thing about sibling rivalry is that competition requires participation.

The latest sibling rivalry amongst my teen sons is who can squat the heaviest weight in the gym. There is endless banter about weights, reps, and depth of squats (I kid you not). The best bit? They go to the gym together to work out almost every day.

I lose my chance to exercise because I drive them to the gym at 6:30 in the morning. But my parenting win – knowing they are choosing to hang out together, taking care of each other, and pushing each other to be stronger.

So, is sibling rivalry good or bad?

I will take my cues from Pam embracing the squabbles between Dax and Gwen in Migration. It’s a reminder that a little healthy competition between siblings, like arguing over popcorn at the movies, can be a blessing. 

On Boxing Day, I’m planning to take my popcorn-warring kids to see Migration, so they can learn the fine art of negotiation while debating the choice of seats and sweets.  

Just don’t tell them I saw it first.

Watch Migration landing in cinemas Boxing Day.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Universal Pictures
Migration is in cinemas Boxing Day.