how do siblings become friend? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 01-28-2002, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I was just browsing through the "only have one child" thread. There was some talk about how having a sibling doesn't necessarily mean they'll be friends or get along and it made me wonder. . .

Do you think there is a way to raise siblings to encourage them to be friends? Do you think it's just an issue of personality - some sibling will get along others will not?

I have one brother and we were always friends growing up and still are friends. My dh has two brothers and they were not close growing up and aren't now.

I want my two sons to be close. They are friends now and play together wonderfully - I hope that it continues (they are currently 4 yr and 19 mos respectively).

Does anyone have any tips for encouraging siblings to get along and be friends? Do you think it is the way children are raised that makes them close?

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#2 of 6 Old 01-28-2002, 01:37 PM
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my two cents worth, from having come at it in a strange way is do not tell the kids that they love each other

i was 10 and my father remarried and they had a baby which i didnt find out about until i went to visit dad

i was told many times that i love my sister when in fact as a 10 yr old suddenly sharing the dad i never saw anyways, i really didnt

i wasnt 'allowed' to be upset, angry etc. all the things that were very normal for the situation

as we got older, sis and i never got to air out our disagreements either. any exchange more than two senetences in length was met with 'stop bickering'. we never talked about her stealing my stuff so we never settled it - it was just buried under the rug as it were

then beyond that, i was 14, 15, 16, she was ten yrs younger and my stepmother worked weekends 3-11pm. i was automatically in charge of dinner, bath, clean up (and my homework) two weekends a month without discussion, without THANKING ME etc. there are things that family does to keep the house going and its done without being thanked (ie everyone has responsibilities - dishes, laundry, garbage etc) but this 'assumed babysitter' thing really pissed me off and i resented it big time.

to this day we have a hard time finding ways to talk to each other

my guess is that moms here would tend to be more accepting and more inclined to conversation than our family so i doubt that my experiences would be repeated by families here
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#3 of 6 Old 01-28-2002, 02:49 PM
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hmmm....that's a good question. It is hard to generalize, but here's my observations

My younger sister and I are about 17 months apart. We were good friends in childhood, became very different people during adolescence and generally don't agree on much now. However, she is my friend, no matter how much we agree to disagree. There are many things we just don't discuss anymore, but she has always been supportive, even if she doesn't understand why I am choosing/doing something, and I try to do the same. We were raised to care about each other - our house was small, we shared a room until I was 12, and we just learned to get along. We were not allowed to be unkind to each other as children, and if we were not getting along, the worst consequence my Mama could give us was to separate us (one to our room, one to hers) until we were begging to be together again.

My DH has an older brother and older sister, and they are not close. They manage to be civil to each other at family gatherings, but that's about it. DH and his brother are often verbally unkind and disrespectful to each other in the heat of a debate, and only recently have the two of them made some kind of peace. His sister has recently started initiating visits and getting together at other than the required "family holiday" times. As children, they each had their own room, plus a separate kids play room and outdoor they never had to learn to get along in a shared space or with shared playthings. For a number of reasons, there was not a lot of consistency in discipline or limits for the kids interaction with each other, and the kids were allowed to be unkind or physically hurtful to each other. At various times, each child was either the "favorite" or the "problem", and it still bothers all of them. Respect was not well demonstrated....all three of them have had to learn it on their own.

My own children (almost 4 and almost 2) are kind and gentle to each other, most of the time. We don't allow them to be hurtful or unkind to each other, but I don't tell them "you must like your brother"...I just know they will have to learn to get along because they don't have any other option in our family.

Just my two cents, learning and loving everyday with the Sweet Pea Bridgade
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#4 of 6 Old 01-28-2002, 05:51 PM
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My kids are 19 months apart and they are 3 and 5. I think that AP makes a huge difference. My kids generally get along quite well and are deeply concerned if the other one is hurt, scared, etc. Other siblings who are similar ages don't seem to be as concerned about the other one, which makes sense to me. After all, in our family it is a big deal if someone is crying and the kids were never left to CIO. In a family where the baby is left to cry and the older child is aware of that, it has to affect how seriously they take the younger child's feelings. Also, in families where children are hit for punishment, the kids are set up to treat each other violently. I think that they way my kids see me treating their sibling is a huge factor in how they treat each other.

Also, because my kids get tons of positive attention, they aren't jealous when the other one is getting attention. They don't need to envy what the other one is getting because they have enough for themselves.

My kids are best of friends right now, but I don't know if they always will be. It is hard to say how much the will have in common in 10 or 20 years. But I do think that they will always have a specail bond and care very deeply about each other.
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#5 of 6 Old 01-28-2002, 06:21 PM
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My sons are 3 3/4 and 15 months and have just recently gotten to that place where they enjoy playing together (at times ). We tell our sons all the time that we love them, and my older son tells his little brother that he loves him everyday. There are times that he gets frustrated with him and will tell me that he doesn't like his brother. I usually handle it by asking him, "do you not like him, or are you angry that he took your legos?" He will always respond that he is angry about the legos. He just doesn't always have the words handy to describe what he is feeling so he says that he doesn't like his brother. I try to fill in the blanks for him. When he says that he doesn't like another child I usually ask him the same type of question "do you not like X, or do you not like what he did to you?" If he says that he doesn't like them (which he has said before) it is usually because the child is typically mean to him, and ds recognizes this fact. I tell him that it is okay if he does not like X or does not like to play with X, but he still needs to be nice to X.
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#6 of 6 Old 01-29-2002, 05:27 PM
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I only have one baby, but I can share what I learned from my sister and I. We are great friends now and very close, but fought A LOT as kids, and were not really close for a long time. We are different people, granted, but I think a bigger problem is that we were never allowed to work things out among ourselves. My parents would always break up the fights, or they would intervene when one of us would go to them to "take our side." I really wish they had just told us to go to another room and work it out. My mom especially was pretty lenient with my little sister, so that also led to resentment on my part. My mom would always give her ultimatums or threats and never follow through (my sister was more wild than I was), so it kind of made me want to punish my sister in some sort of weird parent/child role reversal thing. (We're 3.5 years apart).

Anyway, my biggest suggestion is to let them work things out among themselves and try not to always get involved. Once my sister and I were older and living on our own we eventually had to work things out, which we did, and now it's great. Just wish we had done it a long time ago.
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