Sheila's Books
Click on the covers to read more or order autographed copies!

My Webrings

Crazy Hip Blog Mamas Members!



Medical Billing
Medical Billing

For ALL Your Graphic Needs

Dine Without Whine - A Family 

Friendly Weekly Menu Plan
Thinking About Siblings
I'm just recovering from a weekend long craft show at my house. We were raising money for the children's home in Kenya where we're heading in March by selling Kenyan jewelry, coffee and tea, and lots of carvings and soapstone.

It went really well and I'm thrilled! A little tired, but I feel like I accomplished something.

But now it's Monday and life must begin again. I'm running a little late this morning; I was catching up on email and blogs that I've neglected over the weekend, and now I'm done. But I do need to get moving!

Before I hit the Wii Fit to exercise I thought I'd pose a question to you all: what impact do you think siblings have on us? I think this will be a two-part post, since I have a lot to say on the subject, but as an only child I've always thought a lot about siblings.

I would have liked to have had some, but my father left my mother when I was still really young, so that didn't happen. Instead I grew up alone. I was very close to my cousins, who were also girls, but cousins, as much as you love them, are different from sisters and brothers. I didn't believe that then, but I do now as I watch my own girls grow up with each other.

Rebecca, my oldest, made me watch the funniest video from America's Funniest Home Videos on YouTube the other day. In it, a mom announces to her about 5-year-old daughter and about 3-year-old son that the baby she's carrying is a girl. The boy is devastated, and declares that he will never "pway wif the baby in Mommy's tummy that's a girl." Then he throws himself on the floor and starts howling.

We laugh at it, but honestly, for that child it probably was a tragedy. I'm sure he will love his sister, and his sister will love him, but if it had been a boy, he would have had his best friend for life.

Having siblings that are the same gender is special, I think. When I was pregnant with Rebecca we didn't find out the sex, because we wanted to be surprised. With Katie we did, because we had just had our son who had died, and I so wanted another boy. I didn't want to be disappointed at the birth, so I thought if it were a girl, I wanted to know ahead of time so I could deal with it, put it behind me, and welcome her properly when the time came. And I did.

But looking back, I realize that having a girl was absolutely the best thing. I can't picture anything different. My two girls really are close friends, and they do things together that they couldn't do with a brother.

I am not saying that opposite-gender children can't be friends; I totally believe they can be, and especially as adults, opposite-gender children can often become closer than same-gender children. But as kids, having that same sex sibling is special.

It's strange, but in my family it's all same sex. My mother was one of three girls. My cousins are both girls. My husband is one of four boys. And looking at those families shows me, too, that just because you're the same sex is no guarantee that you will be close friends. Some are, some aren't. So much depends on personality.

But I think it also depends on other factors, like age difference, and parenting. And it's the parenting I want to talk about now. Having a sibling who is a best friend is such a blessing in your life, one that I wish I had. They have followed you through your whole life. They know you as well as anyone else. They will be there for your trials and tribulations, even if you live on opposite sides of the country. I remember when my mother was 42 and was diagnosed with breast cancer. They had her in surgery within 3 days (it was a very large lump). And both her sisters were by her side, even though they lived far away, and one required a very long plane ride. They may only see each other once or twice a year, but when it came down to it, they were there.

Siblings are important. But when they're 4 and 6 and they're bickering, or even worse, when they're 10 and 12 and picking at each other (for that preteen age is often the worst), what do you do? What are your ground rules?

We never allowed our kids to fight. If they did, someone, if not both, landed in trouble. We didn't require that they always play with each other, but we did want them to spend some time together. If the oldest needed a break from the youngest, though, we let her, even if that caused tears for the youngest. When you are encouraging a relationship, it's important to remember that occasional fights do not mean the relationship isn't strong. They're kids, trying to figure out their own identity and form some independence. That means they will naturally squabble. That doesn't mean that we naturally have to put up with it, but don't take it personally and break down if your kids don't get along. It isn't necessarily a reflection of you.

I've also noticed that there are often years when they have gotten along well, followed by a year of frequent squabbles, followed by a year of peace. It has its ebbs and flows. For us, the year after Rebecca had hit puberty but before Katie had were awful. Katie was still a little girl and Becca wasn't. They didn't have as much in common, but Katie couldn't see it, and felt that Becca had betrayed her. Similarly, I remember the year after Becca learned to read as being a difficult one. She had passed a milestone in maturity that Katie hadn't reached yet, and they often bickered then. But with time, such things do pass.

To try to keep them together, even in the rough times, we tended to buy games and toys they could do together, rather than things you do alone (like iPods or TV). We encouraged imagination games. We let them take the pillows off of the couch to make forts (as long as they put them back). We didn't put them in a lot of lessons, so they did have time together to play and get to know each other. When they had friends over, we often invited kids of a variety of ages so they could all play together.

It takes a lot of work, and sometimes it's easier just to separate them, or let them put a TV in their bedrooms so they don't have to hang out with each other. I think, though, that encouraging that friendship is important. Whenever my children fight, I always tell them, "Rebecca is the best friend you will ever have, Katie. Don't ever forget that." And I mean it. And I think, deep down, they believe it, too.

What about you? What are your experiences with siblings? How can you foster friendship among kids who don't necessarily get along? I'd love to hear! Leave a comment!

Bookmark and Share

Stumble Upon Toolbar

To Love, Honor and Vacuum



At 1:44 PM , Blogger LAURA said…

I think siblings are fantastic! I have three brothers and two sisters and while we haven't always been close we have a bond that can't be broken. I have a support system whenever I need one.

My older sister and I are only a year and a half apart and growing up we fought all the time. We have two completely opposite personalities. But now that we are grown up we get along great. Both of my sister live in Florida and I live in PA so right now we don't see each other often or talk a lot but I know that if we lived closer we would be together all the time. I also think if I lived closer to my brothers that we would spend a lot of time together as well.

I can't imagine growing up as an only child. I don't think it is wrong to have only one child... just something I will never be able to understand. Having to share a house with seven other people growing up taught me a lot and I am thankful for it all.


At 2:55 PM , Blogger Kelli said…

I love the fact that I grew up in a "large" family. I'm the oldest of four (2 sisters and a baby brother). I did love having sisters growing up, but one now has a brain injury and one lives distant from us. So, I don't have a "real" sister to just hang out with. My brother is 9 years younger and we don't have too much in common. He's a great guy, but he's 21 and I'm 30 with three kids. He's single and in college.

I've always wanted to have a large family for my own kids so that they can become best friends and have what I didn't have, even with the factor that I'm one of four and aren't really close to any of them. I have two girls (3 1/2 yrs. apart) and my oldest daughter and my son are 20 months apart. They're all within four years of each other. It's my prayer that they grow up close. We also homeschool, so they see each other all day, everyday and they are inseperable! They do have their quarreling moments, but in the long run, they adore each other and couldn't live without each other.


At 3:12 PM , Blogger Kim said…

Though my sister and I didn't grow up close...we are EXTREMELY close now. We have a brother between us (each of us is 2 years apart in age. Neither my sister or I get along with my brother...although we never really did either.


At 4:08 PM , Blogger Ellen said…

My husband and I don't have any kids yet but I grew up with a younger sister 3 years younger and and older sister 15 years older than me. And honestly I've always felt closer to my older sister than my younger one. My younger sister and I never really got along well when we were kids and my older sister was just always there for me, even if she wasn't living close by.


At 1:58 PM , Blogger Kimberly said…

We have 9 children 21,19,17,13,12,10,6,4,23 months. WE have 6 boys and 3 girls, and i have found that my children have had their closest friendships with opposite sex daughters right in the middle are as different as night and day...they never played dolls together and rarely tea parties as one was an extreme tom-boy and the next girl is an extreme girlie little boys all hang out with their they are close in age and interests...the baby she is everyones princess...

My 21 yr. old and 17yr.old hang out alot...19 yr old and 13 yr. old..12,and 10, 4 and 6 the baby is into everyones business...

I am #5 of 6, with 3 sisters, and 2 brothers...i am closest to my oldest sister, and have always been so...she rocked me to sleep, bathed me...dressed me...i was her baby doll, she was my other mother, and i still adore her...always will...i tell her when were both old ladies our age difference(12 yrs) won't matter...

My husband is an only child, and after the death of both is parents within 6 weeks, he was so lost...he said there was no one left, that remembered family vacation, holidays, nothing...he felt so alone...siblings are the greatest gift you can give your children...


At 5:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I have 2 brothers, 3 and 8 years younger than myself. Despite the age and gender difference, they are, and always have been, two of my favourite people on the planet. The fact that we didn't have as much in common in some ways made it easier to get along. We expected differences in interests and skills and worked with those differences. And we did spend time separately, too.

My son could easily have been an only child if I wasn't so close to my brothers. He was a spirited toddler and a resistant sleeper, so the idea of throwing an infant into the mix terrified me. But I wanted to give him someone else to grow up with, and recently had a little girl, a baby sister for him to grow up with.

I though that it would be years before they would play together, but at two months old, she already loves to listen to him talk, and he loves having a captive audience for his 5-year old chatter. While I expect they won't always be so charmed with each-other, I'm thrilled that they enjoy each other so much already.



At 6:17 PM , Blogger Sheila said…

You all are making me cry!

I'm so glad you enjoy your siblings. You've all said what I think is a common theme--we weren't always close as kids, but we are as adults. That's what I try to impress on my kids.

But I don't think you who have siblings can understand what we as only children feel. I look at my children as siblings as something interesting, but outside of me. I can't somehow compute what it would have been like to have had a sibling, because it's so foreign. I'm just me, alone.

For the first time I've actually started imagining vividly what it would be like to have a sister to call, or a brother to bounce ideas off of or ask marriage advice from (why are men like this?). I do miss it.

I have great cousins, whom I've always been close to. I have a half brother who is 16 years younger than me, and who grew up on the other side of the country. So I don't have anything really resembling siblings, though I do have family. And I really wish I did!

So to all of you with kids: have lots of them. Don't have just one. It's no fun, really.


At 8:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I read your Reality Check article this week, "The Sibling Factor" and went looking for comments online and found this blog. Unfortunately not all sibling relationships are positive. I am the only girl in my family with an older and younger brother. My younger brother has always been kind, loving and "brotherly". My older brother seems to seize every opportunity to inflict pain. At a recent family event that inclduded cousins and aunts and uncles (about 50 people) he and his wife did a repeat performance of pretending my husband and I don't exist. We said hello - they walked on by. We stood near talking with other relatives hoping to have a group conversation at least. They avoided eye contact. Everywhere we moved, they moved away. We gave up and tried to enjoy the party.
My older brother is a passive agreessive tyrant and always has been. I didn't always understand this and so tried for most of my life to gain his approval and earn his affection. I've come to realize lately that that is futile and when even my children were the targets of his snubbing, I have given up trying to find a second "brother" where one does not exist. He is not a "brother" to me or our younger brother. He is not an uncle to his nieces and nephews who certainly never did anything to him and are guilty only of being our children.
It is very true that you don't have the same connection to others as to your siblings. Its the ultimate rejection when your sibling, who has the same mother and father as you, who grew up in the same house, who stood by your father's grave with you cannot even manage to say, "Hi".
Its a huge challenge in my faith to deal with this. How does a Christian respond to hatred without hating back? How does a Christian stand up for what's right in a family that has always allowed this to go on?
I know I'm not the only one who has disfunctional family relationships. I hate being the doom and gloom blogger, but those reading who are in a similar position know what I mean. Laura says, "I can't imagine growing up as an only child", I'm sure she also can't imagine growing up with a sibling like this.

Post a Comment
<< Home

About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

See my complete profile

Follow This Blog:

 Subscribe to To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Follow on Twitter:
Follow on Facebook:

Important Links
Previous Posts

Popular Archived Posts
Christian Blogs
Mom Blogs
Marriage/Intimacy Blogs
Blogs For Younger/Not Yet Married Readers
Housework Blogs
Cooking/Homemaking Blogs
Writing Links
Blog Design by Christi Gifford

Images from

Related Posts with Thumbnails