I so love how my Sunshine Wildflower Girl reaches out to all of her younger brothers. She has lived away basically since she was 18 when she left for Bible school in Germany and was married at age 22. She continued living in Germany finishing her bachelors and masters degrees until she and her husband and baby girl moved to Hawaii, where their second child Emmanuel was born this year. Here is a photo of Rachel and her youngest brother Gus with his second nephew and only niece. This was the first time Gus had met Baby Emmanuel! I love my kids being close.
There is something about a brother or sister. Your flesh and blood. Family. Siblings. Friends come and go, but your family is forever.
Yes, you will begin to have friends beyond your siblings as you begin school and you may move on to another location after high school and college experiences, and yes you will start a job and may get married and begin your own family where you will foster the sibling relationships of your own kids, and yes and yes and yes, and yet, siblings, your siblings now are forever, no matter what, and they matter and your kids’ siblings matter; they are the one place you should be able to go where you have unconditional acceptance in both directions, you accept them as they are and they take you.
You’ve heard the saying, you choose your friends but your family is given to you.
Brothers and sisters are such a huge part of our stories, but it takes effort to keep up sibling relationships. My friend Kristi has talked about how her mom has made a deliberate effort at keeping her and her two sisters close from day one, and as they have grown up, moved away, and started working and beginning their own families; her mom has been the constant in keeping her daughters in touch; she sends texts and reminds each of them of one another’s birthdays and other milestones in their lives; it helped them keep in touch and close all of these years.
Strong sibling relationships form some of the most important roots that we and our children need. They represent unconditional love, an acceptance that is evident no matter what, with no expectations of performance; no matter how often we see them, no matter what childhood issues there were, sibling relationships are forever and matter to us. In a world where there is so much negativity and the need to perform to be liked and accepted, when it feels like you can hardly measure up and where friends come and go, siblings are there for you through thick and thin. They have seen you at your best, they have seen you at your worst. But, you have those growing up experiences that only they understand. The roots.
As a mom, it takes effort to foster that lifelong sibling closeness, and it starts at a very young age.
Like, when they are babies and toddlers.
And, words matter. My daughter Rachel just had her second child and someone asked me if my her older child is jealous of the newborn. That is the first thing they asked. I don’t ask that question, but rather instead I focus on what I want to occur between them, that they would see what a gift and honor it is to be an older sister or brother. Bottom line is to not lead our kids into certain negative thoughts towards their siblings by the questions we ask.
To me, it is an honor to have siblings, and as a parent you help foster the relationship between your kids so they have a strong sibling relationship.
One of the number one ways I did this when my kids were young is by always emphasizing the blessing that a new baby is to my older children, and the special role that the older child has in the life of the new baby who joined the family. With the larger family that we have, this was hugely important. I used to say to my older children when their baby brothers joined our family, “You are such a great big sister,” or “You are so nice to your baby brother.”
And, as my kids get older, I continue finding ways to build up the relationship between them, reminding them of birthdays and other milestones and activities they are involved with. I make sure to continue to host birthday parties for each child and encourage them to support one another in all areas of one another’s lives.
With only three kids at home now, two of whom live at their college dorms for eight months of the year, it is such a joy when they make their own efforts at getting together with their siblings; like recently one of my twins took his younger brother to the Warren Miller Ski show as they are both interested in skiing.
Siblings need each other — parents will not be here forever, as my husband and I found out in our close call in January 2015.
So, the 5th out of 30 Days of November How I Mom series, is foster a lifelong relationship of caring between my children so they will be always be friends.
How do you foster sibling relationships for a lifetime? I’d love to hear in the comments section or on the social media that accompanies this post.