Growing up, I was the oldest of three. Even as a child, I was extremely introverted and usually had my nose stuck in a book. My brother and sister were not quite as dormant as I. In fact, I was always the one that kept to myself.
In my eyes, my siblings were just weird. My brother would torment my little sister in the way that brothers do, they would fight, and I would hide out in the quiet of my room. We were often home alone while my parents worked, and this was just the way our days went.
During our teen years, they both hung out in the same crowd while my friends were mostly my “nerdy” classmates and the best friend I had since 3rd grade, plus Colby. I was a senior the year my brother was a freshman, where as my sister was only a grade behind him.
We were all pretty different in almost every way. Still are really.
Therefore, having five children of my own, I wanted them to build strong sibling bonds. Having no relationship with Colby’s family (that’s a whole other story), it was important to us that we create an impenetrable tribe of our own.
We like to think we’ve done a pretty good job of it. When we look at how well our children, including our son-in-law, get along, we take great pride in their relationships. There is nothing these guys won’t do for each other.
For example, when Colby and I travel, Chey, Nic and Wyatt (who all live in a house together) take over all of the parenting duties for the girls. Jaden is almost 15 and the girls are pretty self-sufficient, but they at least need an adult around to drive them and be in the house at night.
Their older siblings handle all of that. They put everything aside in their own busy lives, rearrange work and school schedules, and simply make everything run smoothly. We never have to worry about anything.
Even when we have terrible guilt over missing things like homecoming dress shopping due to a canceled flight, the kids make the most of it. And, together, they get it done; making sure to include us via FaceTime, texts and pictures through the process.
They make mom guilt easier to push through.
One of the greatest tests of their strength perhaps came when my mom passed away. Leaving Joeli with neighbors, the older 5 drove to Houston to be with Colby and I once we gave them the go-ahead.
At the hospital, we sent the two youngest (Jaden and Jaci) to a hotel with some of my cousins, but the older three stayed at the hospital, sleeping on the floor of the family waiting room.
When my mom passed, they were all together around her hospital bed holding each other up, quite literally.
Upon arriving back home, they pulled mattresses into our loft and all slept together for a couple of days. They knew they needed each other. As heartbreaking as this was to watch, it was incredibly heartwarming at the same time.
Colby and I knew, through thick or thin, these kids of ours loved each other deeply. They’re in it for the long haul.
We’ve done it. We’ve given them the foundation they need to cultivate strong sibling bonds for a lifetime.
Encourage Strong Sibling Bonds
We’ve discovered that encouraging teamwork, compassion, and respect can go along way in cultivating strong sibling bonds. Here are tips to encourage strong sibling bonds with your children:
You may have heard the Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Well, when it comes to your kids, don’t compare them to each other. Let each child be who they were meant to be. Celebrate their unique personalities and strengths as they come. Simply, let them be.
Whether working together to complete a list of chores or playing a game, working towards a common goal as one unit create stronger bonds. One of our favorite games is spaghetti arms. As the kids work to create a circle with their hands all intertwined, they learn to communicate, move together, and complete a task as a team.
Although sharing is necessary, especially in a family our size, we often forget that kids also need something that is theirs. Just theirs. Siblings already have to share you, maybe their room, and other toys, but giving them a few items they don’t have to share creates some security and confidence.
Shared experiences create connections and help encourage stronger bonds. Family traditions that the kids remember year after year are vital to constructing those connections. Family vacations are more than a momentary escape; they establish memories you, as a family, can talk about for a lifetime. Take that vacation; even if it’s just a quick weekend getaway.
People disagree. It’s going to happen, even with those that we love. Let the children see you and your partner disagree—and make up. It’s important for them to know that even when we differ in opinions, we still love each other. In the same way, let the kids argue it out and resolve the situation on their own. It encourages problem-solving and conflict resolution skills they will use well beyond the walls of your home.
Remember this for yourself as well. Don’t let other things hinder the family bond. Remind your kids that friends may come and go, but when cultivated well, family is forever. Relationships start in the home. They will learn how to love, respect others, and have compassion through the bonds they begin at home.
Siblings should be able to look to each other in times of both joy and sorrow. They should look out for each other and treat one another with kindness and humility. After all, no one else knows the life you’ve led as well as a sibling.
How do you help encourage strong sibling bonds?
Sisters and brothers are the truest, purest forms of love, family and friendship, knowing when to hold you and when to challenge you, but always being a part of you.”— Carol Ann Albright-Eastman