I have two siblings and we are friendly, but we are not what I
would call friends. In fact, one un-friended me recently on
Facebook, so I think in this day and age that makes us officially
not friends. Ha! I talk to my sisters when one of us needs
something, it's a holiday, or one of them thinks it's been too long
since we talked.
Growing up on a steady diet of fiction (Sweet Valley High,
Judy Blume), I always imagined that having siblings meant you had
best friends for life. Society assumes if you have sisters that's
the case. It doesn't always work that way - blood or not, some
people are just different.
I have four kids, two "sets," as we call them. Each set is just
about two years apart. My girls are four years apart; my boys are
almost eight. They currently are each others' best friends. I love
to watch them take care of each other and help each other. I watch
my girls sharing a chair and playing with each others' hair and my
heart swells. I see my 8-year-old stop what he's doing to walk over
and coo and talk with his baby brother and my heart explodes.
It's not always peaceful. This morning my oldest went storming
out of the house because the girls would not stay out of his room
and leave his stuff alone. Tantrums from the 2-year-old are
frequent when she is not allowed to play with something the big
kids have. However, for the most part, if someone outside the
family were to treat them badly or exclude them, they would stand
up for each other. They turn to each other for help and
I don't know how or why, what we're doing right what we're not
doing, but I hope it never ends. I hope that when they are teens
and adults and are in trouble or need someone to lend an ear or a
hand, they will turn to each other first. I can, and do, just a
little bit more than hope. I remind them (sometimes daily) that
they are so lucky to have siblings, that not everyone gets to share
their life with someone else. This is something my son knows
deeply, as he is the only one that remembers the son we lost, the
brother he never got to meet.
We also encourage them to deal with each other instead of us.
Our rule is if there is no blood, they need to figure it out
themselves. We don't solve their fights; we don't listen to
tattling. I think it's important for them to learn to talk to each
other, to be able to say 'you hurt my feelings' and to say 'I'm
sorry.' We also make them hug. Sorry is never enough of an apology.
If they have hurt or wronged a sibling they need to apologize, fix
it, and "hug it out," as we say. It usually ends up in fits of
I won't know if we have succeeded, I may never know. All I can
do is hope and pray that we are laying down the framework for
strong bonds that will last them until adulthood.
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.
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