Shocking announcement: siblings can be friends.
It seems like this needs to be said. People are under the impression that is’s rare. But I get it. I didn’t know either.
When I was at school there were two sisters a couple of years above me who were identical twins. I remember thinking to myself how strange it was that they were in the same classes and had the same friends. How could they share friends? It just didn’t make sense to me!
I just could not imagine it! Did they treat each other like friends? How could they be sisters and friends? Weren’t those things incompatible?
At school siblings were separate. You definitely did not play together, you were lucky if they even acknowledged you when you saw them. That’s just the way it was. Everyone knew it.
I even had people make comments when my daughters were younger, before we had decided to forgo school, that when they got to school they wouldn’t be so close anymore. That they would think their siblings were embarrassing and tell them to ‘go away’. These remarks were made with a laugh as if it was inevitable part of growing up. But, when I looked at my daughters who absolutely were friends, all I felt was sadness at the idea of that coming to an end.
“One of the first effects of school is to break the bond between parents and children, when the children are five or younger. It breaks bonds between siblings, and replaces them with prejudices about age and grade, with rules against playing with kids of other ages, and with social pressure to be hateful and secretive.” -Sandra Dodd
I wondered if it really had to be this way. Was it truly inevitable?
The answer was no. As it turns out, when you ditch the schooling, you may also avoid damaging relationships between siblings. It is one of the many many gifts of choosing a life without school.
I want to dispute the myth that siblings practically hating each other is normal and unavoidable. For my children, and many other children I know who don’t go to school, siblings are their closest friends.
Are we convinced that harmonious sibling relationships are not ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ so that we more easily accept the damage to relationships caused by school? I have heard many stories of siblings at school being discouraged or even banned from playing with each other during school hours. Twins are often separated into different classes, as if being too close is unhealthy. Or do we prefer to see it as normal because it’s too hard to address if the cause is in fact school?
It’s time to say no, this isn’t ok. This isn’t how it’s meant to be. Separation and disconnection is not a healthier option. Siblings are meant to grow TOGETHER.
They absolutely CAN be friends. They can enjoy each other’s company, share a friendship group, hang out together, and have a beautiful close relationship. And it is wonderful. It is not harmful, but BENEFICIAL. Children were meant to be together, not separated into groups dependent on age and isolated from others.
“My work has convinced me that age-mixed play is qualitatively different from play among children who are all similar in age. It is more nurturing, less competitive, often more creative, and it offers unique opportunities for learning.” – Peter Gray
Watching my girls together is magical. They bring so much to each others lives! I can’t imagine that being taken from them.
They learn from each other.
Share joy and affection.
Cheer each other on.
Share friends and memories.
Explore the world together.
Spend hours immersed in their own secret world of imaginary games.
And there is always someone there they can turn to; who truly knows who they are; who is a part of them and their story.
It’s true that schooling does not always preclude close sibling relationships, but it would be naive to believe that so many hours of separation have no impact. Neither is it certain that unschooling will definitely lead to close bonds, however, you have more chance of fostering that if you are together.
It is not inevitable that siblings will drift apart as they age, that they cannot be close and enjoy spending time together. It’s often school that interferes. You can’t be forced apart for most of your waking hours and then still be expected to be tuned in to each other’s needs and experiences.
Siblings are important. Siblings can be friends. I won’t let school take that opportunity away from them.