The other night I watched a wonderful display of sibling love as my sixteen-year old daughter sat in the floor with my year-and-half year old son in her lap. They were watching a movie, and tears of happiness came to my eyes as I captured this poignant memory in my mind and heart. The fifteen years between them was only a number. The love they shared for each other was evident. Sibling love may not come instantly, and it may show itself in several forms, but the bond between siblings will last a lifetime.
When Does Sibling Love Begin?
When I first told my older children that I was pregnant, their reactions were varied and immediate. My seventeen-year old was overjoyed. I think she was picturing herself as a little mother, and indeed, she does get to practice motherhood, when she feels like it, on her little brother. My eleven-year old son was so excited and wished fervently for a little brother. My fifteen-year old daughter, however, reacted in a totally different way. She was mortified! How could I even think of doing this to her? How was her life going to change?
As with many teenagers, all she could think about was how this monumental event would affect her. What would her friends think? Most of all, how embarrassing it was that I would now be carrying around proof that I was sexually active!
Well, time passed, the baby was born, and you guessed it, she absolutely adores him! In fact, she told me the other day that she couldn't imagine life without him. Her love took a little while to grow, but how fierce and strong it is today!
Why Is the Love Between Siblings So Important?
Does it really matter if your baby and his siblings love each other? Of course it does, but that doesn't mean you can force the issue. Their love will take time. As your children grow, there will probably be plenty of battles and sibling rivalry. Enough, in fact, to make you question your wisdom in having children, but only for a moment.
Just when you think things can't get any worse, though, you'll witness evidence of their intense bond. Maybe they will want to sleep together in the same room or even the same bed. Maybe they'll stand up for each other against a bully. Maybe they'll comfort each other in times of pain or sorrow. As you watch your children love each other, you are peeking into their futures. After all, who else will understand what it is like to be your child? Who else will share their childhood memories? Who else will they be able to reminisce with in their old age? And, who will understand their pain and sorrow as you grow old?
How Can You Foster Sibling Love?
Ok, so maybe your children aren't the most loving with each other at the moment. Is there anything you can do? Well, the conflicts in sibling relationships may have a lot to do with age differences and even gender. Like my baby, I was the youngest child, and my older siblings were much older than me. I never really had an occasion to feel sibling rivalry. However, they were much closer in age, and thus, there were many conflicts through the years. What can you do to help foster sibling love?
- Give your children a chance to work out their differences without your interference.
- Look for ways to encourage them to help each other.
- Praise each child's individual talents and strengths.
- Don't ever compare children!
- Lead by example. Treat family members, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers with courtesy and respect.
Finally, your children may not love each other instantly, and there will probably be days when they appear to vehemently dislike each other. Still, their bond will continue to strengthen through the years, and you can hold the memories of their relationship close to your heart.