I have two older sisters. I'm going to be really honest here and admit that when we were growing up we weren't very close at all. My oldest sister actually grew up in Nicaragua (she's my half sister and lived with her mom). My other sister and I shared a home (and, for a time, a room) but we were not two peas in a pod. I'm sure we drove our parents crazy with our constant bickering. Truth be told, it makes me a little sad that we wasted all those years fighting instead of building a solid sibling relationship.
We're all older and wiser now, with kids of our own, and actually get along. I love my sisters, but sometimes I wonder if we missed out on something.
When I found out my son would be an older brother, I was excited and nervous. I knew I wanted my son to have a sibling, but I didn't want them to be fighting all the time. I didn't want my son to feel resentful towards the baby. I didn't want the baby to feel belittled or unloved. I have always prayed that my children would be close and have a loving bond. I know that some of that is out of my control but I'm doing what I can to foster a close relationship.
My kids share a room and I encourage them to play together all the time. We talk about how special siblings are and how they have to be there for each other. They're still young, 3 and 2, but I think it's sinking in. Sometimes I look at them and it brings a tear to my eye to see them so happy together. Since my son is the older one I'm putting a lot of the responsibility on him, until Isabel is old enough understand what it means to be a good sister. My husband and I talk with Liam a lot about how to be a good big brother and he's really absorbing it. I see it in his daily interactions with Isabel.
Here are five reasons Liam is a great big brother to his little sister:
He has a nurturing maternal vibe going on. The other day Isabel woke up from a nap and Liam ran to help her out of bed. He held her hand and walked her out of the room. "Are you hungry, baby? Do you want go-gu?" ("Gogu" is what Isabel calls yogurt. Liam knows how to say it correctly but he said it the way she said it to relate to her. I just love that.) He then took her to the kitchen and got a yogurt and spoon for her. So tender and sweet. My husband and I watched in awe.
He compliments her to her face and to anyone that will listen. Sometimes we will all be hanging out and all of a sudden Liam will say to me, "Isn't Isabel so beautiful?" My heart swells. It makes me happy that Isabel will grow up hearing that she's beautiful and smart and funny. Liam is always complimenting her and that's the way it should be.
He's her biggest cheerleader. Since Isabel is younger she's obviously not as developed as her big brother. Liam has always been by her side encouraging her to learn and try new things. When she was a baby he would get down on his hands and knees and say, "This is how you crawl, watch me." When she finally did it he cheered louder than anyone. Throughout all her firsts Liam has been there to clap and tell her what a good job she's doing.
He's tender and affectionate (especially for a boy who is usually rough-and-tumble). Liam is always hugging and kissing his sister. It's so sweet. And she loves it. She always has a big smile on her face when hugging her big bro. Liam also always offers to hold her hand when we're walking or riding in the car. His tenderness is endearing.
He includes her, even when she's too young to understand. Isabel is a year and a half younger than Liam and a girl, but that doesn't stop Liam from including her in his play time. Sometimes they play superheroes and Legos, other times they play with dolls and tea sets. Whenever I tell Liam to play with his sister he excitedly says, "Okay! C'mon Isabel!" It makes me incredibly happy that my request is met with enthusiasm rather than groans. He doesn't complain that she doesn't understand or can't keep up. He's patient and kind.
I know this makes it sound like their relationship is idyllic. There are definitely times when there is screaming and pushing and I feel like pulling my hair out. But for the most part my kids really get along and Liam is willing to take correction to learn how to be a great big brother. It's my hope and prayer that they will continue to grow together and love each other the way siblings ought to.