I’m watching my little girl and her big brother playing.
Upstairs, they’ve built a fort out of every pillow they could find. Now,
they’ve moved downstairs to see what other fort building materials they can
find. “Fun time!” the big one yells. The
little girl tears after him calling for him to wait. She starts to cry, unable to keep up. He stops and waits. And in a rare moment of
unbridled kindness from a 6-year-old, he pats her on the head and says, “It’s
okay. I’ll always wait for you.”
My heart melts as the two tell each other, “You’re my best
friend,” then continue playing together for hours on end. But as sweet as this
moment is, I know there’s a good chance it won’t last. It’s easy to be best buddies when you’re
little, but what about high school or beyond? How can I guarantee my kids will
always be friends?
I chat with a few mom friends asking the question: how can
we guarantee our kids grow up close to their siblings? After all, most of us
had more than one kid so our kids would have each other, in childhood and as
adults. And truth be told, I can’t name
one of my friends who is close to their siblings. I can’t imagine my kids not seeing one another
or barely talking. Yet, I haven’t caught
up with my own siblings for months. I’d hate for my kids to grow up the same.
With little in common, they drifted apart.
“My siblings and I are just really different,” one friend
confesses with everyone else agreeing. A
few friends admit to family rifts or fights, but overall most of the friends
with whom I chat feel different from their siblings. With little in common,
they drifted apart.
Only one friend offers an optimistic other side of the
story. “I’m close to my sister,” she
says. “She’s my best friend.” Despite
being very different than her sister, she admits they’ve always remained close
and consider each other their closest confidante. This gives me hope.
So what made the difference?
The friends who were close to their siblings recall a
childhood free of sibling rivalry. How? Their parents never compared them. Each
child was treated equally and different. Accomplishments were never diminished
to make the other siblings feel better about their own. And across the board, friends admitted that
their parents encouraged the siblings to work out their own problems without mom’s intervention.
These all sounds like good rules to live by. After all, who wants to grow up
being compared to someone else? Likewise
if a kid does something great, their effort should be acknowledged, rather than minimized for the
sake of others. Hopefully, my kids will grow up knowing they always have
someone in their corner, their sibling. There’s no guarantee, but it’s worth a