The Value of Sibling Relationships
Lately I’ve been watching my children together and admiring the relationships that are developing between them. The way that they greet each other after they have been apart. The way they help and encourage each other. The way the big girls always have time to play with their little sister or show her interesting things, even when they’re playing with friends. The way they ask for a snack not only for themselves but for their sisters too. The way they stand up for each other. The imaginary games they play together. How they learn from each other. The amount of times a day they giggle and cuddle together.
Oh, it’s addictive to watch! Of course it’s not all sunshine and daisies. They argue like normal siblings do too. But on the whole they are fabulous friends and they love each other to pieces.
Sometimes I wonder if I would have had to sacrifice some of this if they went to school/kindy. After all, they would be spending the majority of their waking hours apart during the week. Would they have still been as close as they are now? My eldest daughter would have started school less than a month after her baby sister was born, meaning she would have much less time to get to know her new sister than she had when her first sister was born. Would that have impacted their relationship?
Before we decided to homeschool someone once commented to me about my first two children that ‘they won’t always want to play with each other so much. Pretty soon she’ll be off to school and complaining about her little sister trying to hang out with her and her friends’. It made me sad that this was just an accepted fact. That the introduction of school seemed to mean a greater focus on developing relationships with peers and less so with siblings. Is this true? The amount of times homeschoolers get asked about socialisation seems to suggest so. Everyone seems to believe that when your child turns five, friends become the most important thing. They must get enough time with friends!
Sometimes I even get the impression that siblings can be too close. When people offer opinions like ‘it’s good for them to have time apart’, without any suggestion from me that they are needing some space. Sure, if they need some time apart then they absolutely can, but it’s also not a bad thing to spend a lot of time together.
There’s so much focus on making friends, socialisation, and getting opportunities to work in groups and I feel like people discount the role of siblings in this. As if socialisation with siblings doesn’t count. In fact, at these young ages especially, I think it counts a whole lot! The family is where we first learn social skills. Where we test out our behaviours on people who love us unconditionally. Where we learn conflict resolution, sharing, and compromise. Your best friend can be your brother or sister, and that is not a bad thing. You can learn from and with your siblings just as you can with peers.
My children will have no trouble making friends, I know that. Friends come and go throughout your life, but a sibling will always be there. They are one of the most important people in your life. One of the perks of homeschooling is that we can give them so much time to learn and grow together and to deepen these relationships. Though I feel like this is not seen as one of the ‘legitimate reasons’ to homeschool. Sibling relationships are somehow not valued enough. I’m going to have to disagree with that, this is one of the biggest benefits for us and something I definitely would not trade.
I wholeheartedly agree! My 5 & 4 year old are best friends. They are forming a beautiful relationship with their 8 month old brother too. If my 5 year old was at school full time this year, like your daughter he would have missed out on a large portion of the time his littlest brother has been in our family. Watching their relationships flourish is definitely of my favourite things about having them all home together! ?
It’s so beautiful to watch isn’t it 🙂
This was heart warming and so affirming to read. My eldest daughter was 4 when her sister was born. As the new baby sister grew the two girls have grown closer and closer. My daughter went to school at 5, she was there for nearly 5 months. During this time she was tired, anxious and unhappy. Although I could still see the love between them much of their interaction was in conflict. My eldest daughter had so little to give, her soul was worn. We removed her from school and within weeks the conflict had vanished. Her soul recovered and she was able to give herself again. They relish their time together and their love has grown stronger and stronger. They still get frustrated with each other but the love which is so evident now heals every hurt. Watching them run down the beach yesterday holding hands is nourishment for all our souls.
Wow, this post really hits home! In the past month, I decided to pull my son from school (1st grade) after he finishes out the year. A few weeks ago a boy asked my son to play with him. My son said, “sure, we can play,” the boy said “no, just you” and my son said, “I’m playing with my little brother, if you want to play, you can play with both of us” and they did. The other boy tried to get my little guy to say things he thought was funny and my older son said to the boy, “no, we don’t make him say things, that’s not right.” I never stepped in, they worked everything out on thier own, together. The final decision, was when he came home and upon finding his brother napping (brother, age 3), slow burst into tears, because he “waited all day to play with him and don’t have much time”. Now, my 3 year old doesn’t (usually) nap anymore, so every day my 6.5 year old runs off the bus straight to see his brother for two hours of the most beautiful time together. He has friends at school, but his little brother is clearly his best friend. Always teaching, helping, showing, playing and yes, arguing a bit. Thier relationship is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. And before someone tells him otherwise, I hope to encourage the nurture of that for as l can. Next year I will homeschool for 2nd grade and see how it goes.
That’s a beautiful story Christa!! My littlest girl often gets upset if she is awake and her sister is sleeping, standing at her door looking utterly devastated saying “my sister”. Best of luck with homeschooling next year.
Oh wow, I’m so glad things changed for you!
I was talking to my friend about this recently, and reflecting that one of the big benefits of home education was the great relationship my kids have with each other. Yes, they argue, but they play a lot, and I see such sweetness and kindness in how they are with each other.
Hi! I love this post. I really believe that not all the rules imposed by “society” has the right path. This fraternity that your children are building can’t be made it by any book or teacher.
(As always) thanks for this post Sara 🙂 your so right about people not appreciating the value of sibling relationships and that social skills are learnt at home with our family not only with siblings but with parents and through there modelling – I seem to come across that misconception lots and lots! My girls have fought more than is typical for them this week I think but you got me thinking about the really lovely moments between them too – I might try to capture some of them next week and share them with them? My 2 year old found one of her sisters favourite toys outside damaged this afternoon she was so sad carrying it in side to her sister and asking us to fix it for her. And when I was in the shower this morning my little girl bumped her head on a draw in the bathroom cupboard, my big girl gave her “a hug to help her feel better”. These kinds of moments happen much more than the fighting really 🙂
As a mother of one, who sadly cannot have any more children, this is the sort of article that makes me want to cry. Think about it for a moment… it is so assuming that more than one is a given, and that those kids are better off.
Would an article about how wonderful it is to have working legs and not be in a wheelchair be acceptable? Or how children from families with married parents are best? May seem extreme anaology but stop and think about it for a min. Im not saying noone should ever write about siblings just because I cant have them, but perhaps a more balanced tone would come across as less smug.
This isn’t about siblings vs no siblings. It is about people thinking friendships are more important than siblings.
The writer can’t hold the weight of your misfortunes on her shoulders. She is sharing her experience and opinion – you are entitled to yours too but expecting others too quieten theirs or censor their happiness because of you is unfair.
I find it very sad to equate this piece about siblings to someone being discriminatory by bragging about having legs or being married. I believe this has more to do with your feelings over not being able to have more children than it does about what is written. Some might say as they cannot have any children that discussing anything about your child is hurtful. Where do you draw the line?
This piece is about the distance society places on children from family. From birth parents are mistakenly taught to develope a distance from their children so they wont be so reliant and prepare them for separation from family like when they go to school. Whatever the family dynamic, close ties should be made a priority. Whether thats between siblings or parent and child.
This article DID have a balanced tone and in no way was “smug”.
Your comment smacks of bitterness.
It was a lovely article.
Maybe you need to accept that the world is not perfect, and yes, it may have been ideal to have a sibling for your child, but it was not to be, and yes, it is ideal for children to be raised in a home by BOTH of their parents, but sadly that often is not the case either.
It doesn’t make it “wrong” or “smug” for people to write about the benefits of having their siblings, around, both parents or anything else for that matter.
Projecting your bitterness on someone else will not fix the hurt in your heart.
Chiponmyshoulder, I think this is a really valid point. We are unschoolers, my son is autistic, and my daughter is sometimes very lonely. They will never have a normal relationship. So, even if you want/ are able to have more than one child , things can be very challenging also. I guess it is simply a case of unsubscribing from a feed that makes you feel sad. You have a right to share those feelings, just as everyone else has a right to share theirs. To say your post “smacks of bitterness” is really, really unkind. Envy? Yes, perhaps. Grief? Yes perhaps. And that is OK.
Love this. I have watched in awe at the beautiful relationship between my toddler and preschooler. I was lucky my daughter adored her brother when he came along and have had no jealousy from her. They cuddle, hold hands and love playing together. I too wondered if this would change if they went to school. Would myson be pressured to not think much of his sister because she has some learning disabilities? I have also wondered, and you can probably help me on this one, whether their relationship wouldnt be as close if we had another child. Is it really true one of three always gets left out? Can that strong bond really extended to three evenly?
No it’s not true! I worried about this myself! They were such a close twosome and I just couldn’t imagine how the relationship between three would look. But as my youngest gets older I can see how they all just fit together, it’s perfect! 🙂
What a beautiful post! We are currently trying for our second child. I feel a tad guilty we waited so long…. if we got pregnant soon our kiddos will be 4 years a part in age. Just curious how it is with your oldest and youngest? I know that no matter what our children will have a special bond, and family is our number one. I just love your writing, and find it very inspirational….. so just would love to hear more on this from you 🙂 Thanks
Thank you 🙂
I would say my oldest and youngest (5 yrs apart) are just as close as my middle and youngest (3 yrs apart). The age hasn’t seemed to make a difference 🙂
Yes! I’ve homeschooled up until this year, when my middle child (7) went to school. I think it’s one of my top benefits of having them home. Their relationship is strong and even when they fight there is a fierce friendship underneath that carries them through. Next year I will have my oldest two in school, and I’m trying not to focus too much on the fear of what it will do having both of them apart. I’m hoping I can take the lessons of homeschooling and continue to build their strong relationship. I think just having had the experience of homeschooling and knowing that they can be each other’s best friends likely will help us all maintain some of that closeness. As an adult my close relationships with my siblings is treasured, I feel lucky to have them.
Thank you for this. I gave birth to twin girls in May who are now three months old and my oldest daughter turns five in September. We have decided to forego Kindergarten this year and test the waters with homeschooling. One major reason for not starting school this year is to give my three girls an opportunity to build their relationship. Think it may be hard to give up once we get started.
Hi Sara, thanks so much for your story online here!! I have been needing confidence that I am on the right track. My heart is with every word you say. The world is messy and peoples words get into me and hurt. Love. Chloe