Raising siblings as friends doesn't have to be difficult.

Friends Come and Go, But Siblings are Forever

I love my siblings more than you.

Not more than you love your siblings (maybe?) but I love my siblings more than I love my friends.

Sorry, not sorry.

Let me tell you a bit about my siblings. I’m the second of seven children. My older sister is 18 months older than me, and I have a sister 18 months younger than me. Then, my parents took a break for almost 7 years. I then had a new sibling (three boys and a girl) every two year after that. So when the youngest brother was born, my oldest sibling was 16. It was almost like having two different families because of the age gap.

My siblings and I acting goofy when Mom tried to get a picture. Yes, half of us are in our 30s here!

But let me tell you something about my siblings; we’re the best of friends. That means we love each other with a fierce love, tease each other mercilessly and pick at each other without stopping.

My mom used to always say, “Friends come and go but your siblings are forever” and they fostered a love of each other in us. Family vacation? We took them. A road trip from Florida to Maine? Yep, I’ve checked that off my bucket list. High school and college graduations? We’ve been to them all. Between the seven of us, we’ve had four marriages (adding more sibling in-laws), 10 children, lived in 6 states throughout the years and gathered for “Second Christmas” every year since we started moving out.

We have inside jokes galore; some are among the entire group and others just between a couple of siblings. We know each other’s foibles and strengths. We know that no matter what, we can call a sibling and they’ll drop what they’re doing and help us out. I know I could show up on my brother’s door in Oklahoma and he’d let us in. (It would be a tight fit in his two bedroom house, but whatever!) I would drive to Oklahoma in a heartbeat if he needed me.

My brother’s wedding! Don’t we all look so dressed up?!?

And that’s why I’ll always choose my family over friends. And why I’m teaching my children the same thing. Sibling love is important, and there are several ways we are fostering this.

Start Early

The earlier you can start with your children, the better. Preschoolers and toddlers can learn to play together and get along with each other. If you’re trying to start now with preteens or teenagers, all is not lost; you’re just going to have to work a little harder.

Set an Example

Your children watch and copy you, you know that. So give them a good example to copy. Talk about other members of the family in a positive way, building each other up instead of tearing each other down.

Teach a “We” Mentality

Kids (and adults!) often have a “Me First” mentality. If you foster the idea that your family sticks together, they’re more likely to put their siblings first and stick up for them before all others. Not only are your children a team, you are on their team as well.

Work through arguments

It’s foolish to think that your children will never get into arguments. Living with another person all the time naturally leads to arguments. The trick is to teach your children to handle and resolve their arguments in a peaceful manner (this takes time, we still haven’t figured this out fully!)

Teach them to apologize and offer forgiveness

This is another hard one to teach, and can’t be done in one big talk. It takes daily reminders and guidance. But the difference it will make in your family is huge.

Remind them that they aren’t the center of the universe (or the family!)

So many times, kids think they should be the center of the universe and therefor the center and most important in the family. This is totally not true, and they need to be constantly reminded of this. This isn’t always hold true for every child you have, but each family often has at least one that feels this.

Encourage them to give gifts

Have your children buy or make birthday and Christmas gifts for each other. If they are really young, a handmade card is great. This reminds them that their siblings are just as important and worthy of gifts as they are. Encourage them to really think about what their sibling would want or like.

Make family time a priority

This could be a simple dinner each night where you gather and talk about your day, or a vacation where you get away with just your family. A day trip to the zoo or to visit extended family is another way to spend time with each other.

Give them bonding time

Bonding time doesn’t have to be anything big. Your children can bond while they clean a bathroom or wash the car. You children will always have these memories of the things they did together.

Remind them that they’ll always be siblings

Friends come and go, but siblings are forever. They are the only people on the planet with this specific bond with these other people in their family. Even once they’re married, they won’t have the same exact background with their spouse. It’s special and should be nurtured in their formative years.

Encouraging your children to be friends with their siblings doesn't have to be difficult.

5 Comments

  • Michelle Farris February 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    This is lovely! Siblings can be a gift or a curse depending on one’s family background but healing those relationships or promoting unity eat is so important! Love this!

    Reply
  • Bonnie February 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

    These are such great tips! We encourage our kids to go to each other sporting events and pay attention lol. As well as buy birthday gifts

    Reply
  • candy February 24, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    We taught all of our children to become best friends. They wavered here and there of course growing up. Now they are all truly close even living long distances from each other. Very proud of them.

    Reply
  • Gladys February 25, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I thought i had tried everything! These are all great ideas, definitely gonna try then

    Reply
  • Crystal | Pennies & Playdough October 7, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    I love this! I have 3 kids spaced a total of 5 years apart, and I hope that they will be as close to each other as I am to my siblings! I will have to try the bathroom cleaning bonding time with them when they get older! 😆

    Reply

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