Back when my girls were in junior high/high school, they once told me that they knew a lot of kids who didn’t like or get along with their siblings.
That made my heart so sad.
At the time, I thought they were probably overreacting. I was sure there were more siblings who got along than they thought. But then I started witnessing some things that showed me there, indeed, can be a “disconnect” sometimes between brothers and sisters.
For example, my youngest had a program in which she had a part. We had two showings that particular day. One in the afternoon, and one in the evening. My plan had been to go and get my oldest out of school as she had expressed an interest in watching her sister. I had always encouraged my kids to support one another, so I wasn’t ever shy about taking them out of class so they could watch each other in plays, programs, award ceremonies, etc. I did this because if they showed an interest and wanted to cheer each other on, I wanted to encourage that! I wanted that support and love to flourish.
On that day, my daughter watched her little sister in her program. Then we had to go back for the evening show, and my youngest didn’t have her big part—she only participated in the big group as a whole for the evening showing. Still, I felt my oldest should watch and support her.
But she had other ideas.
She wanted to sit with some friends, which was okay with me, as she was getting older and I wanted to affirm that. But that was when things started to change. Most of her friends weren’t staying inside for the performance, but were going to “roam.” I didn’t like that… and I didn’t allow my daughter to participate. She was not happy with me, and she felt alone (even though she could have come and sat by me), but I held my ground.
For one, I didn’t want to encourage my daughter to be what I term a “hoodlum.” It was dark outside, and I hadn’t wanted her roaming about without adult supervision. I didn’t care how old she was, she was still a minor—and there was still plenty of room for danger and disaster. I also wanted her to invest in what her sister had invested in. That’s what a family does —you stay and you support one another.
I came to this conclusion: I think a lot of kids might not be close because they are not encouraged or instructed to invest in each other’s interests. Whether it’s basketball games, plays, or award ceremonies doesn’t matter. We should have our children there to support each other, out of pure love and devotion. Love doesn’t always do the “fun” stuff. It does the boring, the hard, and the inconvenient stuff too.
Life isn’t always about “us.” If we let our children ignore what is going on with someone else in the family, we are only encouraging them to become more “me” centered. They will always seek “what’s in it for me.” No, they may not be happy about it, but they will learn to put the time in that is needed, to grow bonds with their brothers and sisters. They will know what their interests are, who their friends are, and how they can help them when they need it the most. Sometimes, they may be our biggest tools, in letting us know when something is wrong or out of character with their brother or sister!
I do understand there are times to give kids a break. If my child has been to every single one of their sibling’s sports games, and they have a friend show up and can hang out for a while in a safe atmosphere—I’m okay with that. But that is going to be the exception—not the norm.
For me, I felt that encouraging my children to develop a relationship that would be strong and “other-centered” was important. Someday, they won’t have me around. The kind of relationship they have with each other will be something that will truly be an asset in their life, and something that can be a strong foundation against the tides of the world.
I would encourage all parents to nurture sibling relationships between their kids. Make sure they are taking turns in cheering each other on in their interests and endeavors. After all, that’s part of what being a family is all about, and if you want a close one—it takes commitment and time.
Even on the part of our kids.
Written by Dionna Sanchez
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on beautyinthestorm.com.
Featured Image by Annie Spratt