Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thoughts for Thursdays - Sibling Relationships

How often do you hear parents talk about how their children fight ALL the time? I here this quite often. Although my guys do fight, it's not all the time. On the contrary, they get along very well. They both share a bedroom and sleep in bunk beds. That's all by choice. Perhaps it's in part due to their chemistry but, I also think how they are raised plays a role in their special relationship as well.

Positive sibling bonds can be formed from the very beginning. As parents, we can help shape these bonds. I hear so many people tell their older children right from the start, when they are expecting a new baby. Nine months is a long time to wait as a parent, there is so much emotion and anticipation. For children, who really aren't old enough to grasp the concept of time, nine months can seem like eternity. Therefore, I think resentment can build up in this period of waiting for children. Of course, older sibling can and should be included in this happy time, but I think their little minds are not able to withstand this waiting. I think holding off a little while to tell children about the new baby coming can yield more positive results. Similarly would you start hyping a young child for Christmas starting in April? That would be way too long. It is definitely helpful to talk about the new baby before his or her arrival but perhaps it is more positive to do it more closer to the baby's due date.

From my experience, some of these parents are the first to say their older child/children are so jealous when the baby arrives. First and foremost, it is very common and natural for an older sibling to show some jealousy, however by talking about jealousy in front of them, they are only making it worse. Sometimes assuming it's going to happen, makes it happen. I think including the older child as much as possible in caring for the infant fosters that special sibling bond. I think if you do this at their pace, in due time the older child will feel like the baby has always been a part of their family. "Family" this word brings me to my next point.

Though I feel its important to spend some individual time with children, with the addition of each child a "family" is growing. To foster healthy sibling relationships, it's important to emphasize the family unit. Too many times, parents just accept that their children "just don't get along." They therefore do everything they can do keep them apart. So often I see family's that always split up. The mother takes one or a couple of the children and the father does the same. Though this might be effective in splitting up house hold chores or errands, I think that as a family it's important to do things all together. The worst spoiler of children's relationships is to always separate them just because you anticipate a fight. Children must learn to get along with each other. They will have their fights. That's normal but, they need to interact enough with each other to learn how to work things out. These are learned skills but can be facilitated by parents.

In sum, children need some guidance from parents when it comes to their relationships. Growing up with sisters, we had our spats. Most often they were verbal and embarrassingly enough sometimes they were physical (thankfully not often!) We fought over clothes, boyfriends, the phone, the television, etc All three of us shared one room (yes, crazy!) However, my parents always emphasized working things out and forgiving each other. They tried not to take sides, but they did encourage us to get over things. I am thankful for that. To this day, my two best friends are my sisters, and I hope my boys can say that still when they are adults.


jenny said...

my brother and i are great friends. we went through a lot growing up together and had great parents (divorced when i was 10). anyways - i know the way we were raised played a huge role in who we are and what our relationship is like today. it is important. i have a half sister who is 8 and we have a great bond too. i was a senior in high school when she was born, but our family dynamic made it easy to be close to each other dispite the age gap. it helps i only live two blocks away too!

when i get pregnant again, i'm not sure when we will tell tucker. i think that it will all work itself out naturally.

kids are kids and it is important for them to play, laugh, and even fight with each other. it is part of growing up and builds character...or something like that. :)

sorry this post is all over the place.

Zoe said...

my boys beat the crap out of each other on an hourly basis...but if anyone else messes with them...they better watch out. they are each others biggest defenders. we do sometimes separate them for outings but only because i think that it is nice for each child to have some one on one time with a parent. we take turns so it is fair and we do lots of stuff togethor.

Happy Days said...

Amy, I think you are doing a great job with your boys. They are great to be around. I think you made alot of great points. Sometimes I think people need to read stuff out of a book, instead of using common sense. I do think there are all kinds of circumstances that come into play with sibling relationships, but it is definately sooo important to have family time.

Happy Days said...

I meant to say people think they need to read stuff, instead of using common sense. blah, blah, blah

Anonymous said...

I like this post. I grew up with three sisters (no brothers). We fought quite often but mostly over who was hogging the bathroom, clothes and of course the phone. Now, with all of us being married and moved out we get along so Good. I can Honestly say that my sisters are my best friends and there is noone else on earth that I would rather hand out with than them.