Sibling Relationships in the Homeschool/Unschool Setting - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-10-2012, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Currently, my Ds 6.5 dominates my Dd 4.5 and there is no way around this.  Because he is older, he has higher cognitive skills that translate into getting what he wants/needs across miles better than she does.  So, he essentially "wins" a lot of their debates.  He leads, she follows.  When she tries to lead their play, she is unable to get across her thoughts as well.  Her experience with kids her age is very limited so she doesn't get a chance to see that, in a different setting, she can better hold her ground.  It seems, where ever we go, whatever we do, she is the youngest.  

 

To be sure, my kids have an excellent relationship.  My son is very gentle and adores his sister.  My Dd looks up to her brother and idolizes him!  They play well together.  They are a team.  They hardly ever fight.  Because they learn at home, they basically spend the whole day in each other's company.  Yesterday, as I watched their interaction during play, I wondered how the fact that they are each other's only company a huge majority of the time will affect their relationship.  So I thought I'd pose two questions here:

 

1.  How do you think homeschooling/unschooling affect each child's development when it comes to negotiating social situations, especially younger ones that get trumped by older siblings all the time during a certain developmental period?  What about older siblings who are used to getting their way by the sheer superiority of their intellect?  

 

2.  How do you think homeschooling/unschooling has affected/or will affect the relationship of your kids with each other?  I mean, the fact that they are spending whole days together puts them in a unique position since other kids go to school and are away from each other the majority of the day.  I imagine this difference amounts to something?  Have you guys ever thought about it?  

 

I also want to say that maybe I think about this more than other people because I so badly want to foster a good relationship between them.  I do not have close relationships with my siblings and I mourn that to a certain extent.  Because of this, I suppose I pay more attention to sibling stuff.

 

What do you guys think?  I am just interested in other people's thoughts.  

 

E.  

 

P.S.  I have to say, I would love to do some actual research on some of the stuff we talk about here.  Deciding to keep my children home (from schools) has been one of the most intellectually stimulating things I have done in recent years.  I find the process and the various schools of thoughts on the subject fascinating.  

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Old 12-10-2012, 08:51 PM
 
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I don't have time for a full response, but I suspect that your DD gets her own way with her brother at least as often as she would with age-mates, because her brother is likely to actually understand what she wants, while age-mates might not.  

 

My kids are tight.  I do think homeschooling has led to closer relationships than they might have otherwise-- they need to get along, and so they work things out.  My two who are close in age are now 10 and 12, and the older one is very open in her admiration of her younger sister's strengths.  I like seeing it.  Neither dominates the other now that the age difference is less pronounced.  

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Old 12-11-2012, 09:14 AM
 
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post My two who are close in age are now 10 and 12, and the older one is very open in her admiration of her younger sister's strengths.  I like seeing it.  Neither dominates the other now that the age difference is less pronounced.  

That's a good point. In a few years, a 2 year age gap will be hardly anything. I may be stereotyping, but girls seem to mature faster than boys in some ways so with an older boy and younger girl, the age gap may become less pronounced sooner than if it were the other way around. And big brother probably does do what little sister wants more often than random kids her age would.

 

I think at younger ages, kids do better in a mixed age situation where they are the only one their age. That way they aren't all at the same developmental stage vying to use the same things in the same way at the same time. I think a typical sibling age gap can be better for kids playing well together and learning relationship skills than being in a same age peer group.

 

Eventually your dd won't be the youngest in her group... But I do understand your concern. I feel like my ds is always the oldest in the group and I'd really like him to have the opportunity to hang out with kids just a little older sometimes.


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Old 12-11-2012, 09:40 PM
 
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My boys are 6 and 8 (two years and five days apart) and have a similar dynamic to what you have described.  They both went to preschool and public school until this year.  DS6 was in Kindy last year and DS8 in 2nd.  DS8 is definitely the leader and bossy enough to drive me up the wall some days, but also very helpful.  He reads to his brother now, and gives him tips on drawing (he's a fanatic artist and draws very well).  The downside is that DS6 is frequently the least capable and he can sometimes be frustrated easily or give up too soon.  I don't want him to feel that way!  Especially because, chances are, when he is two years older he will meet or likely exceed his older brothers skill in many things, just for having someone to look up to and show him the way.  

 

The upside with homeschooling this year is that I've noticed their relationship has actually improved these past few months.  They have always been pretty inseparable and almost never do anything without showing off or asking the other one his opinion.  But they also seem to be arguing and fighting less now.  At first, it was probably the opposite and I was concerned that spending so much time together could be a detriment to their relationship.  However, I think from having so much time together, they've actually discovered how to talk things out and resolve their disagreements quicker and easier.  They do a lot less hitting and kicking now than they used to.  What a blessing!  And that is completely the opposite of what I would have expected at the start.  

 

Growing up, I had one sister who was exactly two years younger than me.  We were very close as kids.  We did everything together.  But as we grew up, we grew into different directions.  We're not as close now.  I don't know why and I wish I could have that really close sibling relationship with someone, but we are just too different.  I don't think there is anything anyone could have done to change that really.  Its just who we became.  So just being close as kids does not guarantee a close relationship as adults, I don't think; and likewise, not being close as kids doesn't mean siblings won't be close as grown ups, I would guess.  

 

That's my two cents.  smile.gif


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Old 12-12-2012, 07:00 PM
 
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I have two boys, ages 9 & 4 -- so a bit of a larger age difference.  They generally play together beautifully, the bond that bridges a 5 year gap is imaginative play...some days my living room becomes a sea with boats, other days it's caves or volcanos that are being explored.  Board games, magic shows, legos & ANYTHING the younger brother will let the older brother teach him works too. Of course, we also have those dreadful days when they can't stay away from each other, but must torment each other constantly. 

 

I think homeschooling has helped foster their friendship - despite many friends & activites, they are mostly with each other.  If they want someone to play with, they often have to play with each other & find a way to make that work.  I also see in my kids, & in the homeschool community in general, a willinginess to play across ages/genders that isn't always as evident in kids that go to school.  It seems to me that play is more likely to be interest driven rather than age or gender specific.  

 

That being said -- I do think that my younger son is strongly affected by the fairly constant presence of his big brother.  On days where we have long stretches of time without big brother, little bro is able to focus for a long time of self-generated projects.   He's quieter, and calmer and a little bit gentler.  When big bro is around, the volume turns up, his projects are interrupted, and he's more likely to want to play whatever big bro sets up as the game, rather than generate his own ideas.  The effect for big bro of having little bro around?  Pretty negligible.  Big bro gets a little less attention, & it's more difficult to do really involved, parent-driven projects, but I don't see the same personality & play changes that I do in little bro. 

 

Re: question1:  social situations - My youngest is an extrovert, my oldest an introvert.  Little bro does a great job negotiating any social situation, makes friends easily, etc. - 'tho his close friends are the younger sibs of big brother's friends.  This will probably change as he gets older, but for right now I've made an effort to cultivate friendships/co-ops/etc with parents who have kids with younger siblings.   I think birth order means alot, but the child's personality changes those dynamics.  Both my kids are intense, persistent, determined, strong-willed people, but my youngest put the scream in 'spirited' & my oldest's superior intellect just can't trump my youngest's tantrums.

 

Re question 2: I think I mostly answered it above.  I do think alot about the sibling relationship my children have.  As important as I am in their lives right now, I know that it's their relationship to each other that will probably be their most important family connection.  I am very close with my siblings (all 4 or 6, depending on how you count - long story).   And, even though I wasn't homeschooled, most of my childhood memories are of the adventures my brother and I had together.  I'm pretty sure my boys memories will be mostly of each other.  


Loving mama to magical boys Skyler (11/21/03) and Gryffin Emrys (9/30/08). 

 

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Old 12-12-2012, 10:35 PM
 
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1. My younger two three kids are all really good social mediators. They help high-strung friends get over stuff. They help people chill and let stuff go. They're good at compromises. They don't let much bother them. I think that's because they had years of experience acquiescing to their oldest sister's supreme tenacity and intellectual superiority. 

 

My youngest is the most socially capable, resilient, gracious, gentle, helpful and emotionally adept of them all. Maybe it's just the luck of the genetic roll of the dice, but maybe it's partly all those years of being bossed around by three older siblings while emulating all their social skills and interpersonal strategies.

 

I think my eldest grew up without as much emotional resilience because she didn't get the chance to practice several times a day bouncing back from having her feelings hurt or her desires frustrated by an older sibling. What she doesn't have in the way of resilience she makes up for in strength and determination, so she copes fine, but she feels slights and injustices more keenly and doesn't let go of them as easily.  

 

2. My kids are good friends, rarely argue, and get along really well. I think homeschooling really helped strengthen their relationships, because they had so much experience in common, spent so much time together, and never developed the grade-based identity that is so common in age-levelled schooling. The younger siblings have immense respect for the older siblings. The second youngest still feels some occasional little-sister-annoyance with respect to the youngest, but I can tell that all the same she thinks she's pretty awesome. I'm sure that annoyance will continue to diminish over the next few years. (They're 14 and 9, which is a fairly astronomical gap socially at this point.)

 

Miranda


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Old 12-13-2012, 12:39 PM
 
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I have 2 boys, ages 7 & 9. Until the last 6 months or so, they were best friends. The older one is my peace keeper and my youngest is our "fire ball", as we call him. My oldest seemed to understand that the younger was is just "more intense", and always displayed an amazing amount of patience with him. We've homeschooled now, for a little over year. I'm not sure what happened 6 months or so ago, but it all broke loose. These boys fight constantly. I have tried to mediate, I've tried to ignore, and I've tried to separate them. None of which has proven to be successful.

Taking advantage of the holiday season, and the spirit of giving, I've made them go a through a number of exercises over the last few weeks, that I'm hoping, will help us up over the hump. They have had to write notes to each other, to thank one another for something the other has done. Given that they are so competitive, I set up friendly competition, and awarded token points for each act of kindness they performed for one another, during a given month. They could then cash in their token points towards a prize. As a Christmas gift to one another (and everyone else in the family), I've made them write down, on a slip of paper, the thing they love most about each person in the family. We then wrapped the comments up, in a package for each individual, and we will be giving them as gifts on Christmas. I'm almost questioning now, as I type this response, if I haven't made this whole getting along business a game for them, instead of trying to point out the value of their siblings to them.

I have 2 brothers, and I remember them as being quite competitive, and they fought....A LOT! I was really hoping that giving my boys a different environment than that of my brothers, would mean they wouldn't fight as much. Until 6 months ago, I was convinced we had been successful. I don't know if it is a testosterone surge, or what, but I'm ready to go over the edge if I hear one more round of fighting!
 

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Old 12-16-2012, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for sharing :) Great to read your responses and reassuring too! 

 

E

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Old 12-18-2012, 10:23 AM
 
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My 6yo recently started sticking up for what she wants, in opposition of her dominating older sister.  DD1 is not happy!  For years, DD2 has been faced with the dilemma of getting what she wants, and being "nice".  Apparently, she is done with that!  

 

We'll see what the next few months bring.


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