If you were to meet my sister or brother you would know right away we were related. You would see the family resemblance in our eyes and our expressions . You would listen and laugh along with us as we shared crazy stories from our childhood . We have many things in common: our mannerisms, our experiences, our family and friends and all the unique stories from our life together. The longer you spend time with us the more clear it would become to you that we are also very different. Our interests, talents and needs are specific to each one of us yet we had to live under the same roof, share the same parents and everything else in our home. It is a paradox that children who are siblings can be so alike in their experiences and yet so different. This paradox seems to be the root of what causes sibling rivalry and the mixed emotions of having a sister or brother.
Here are two things to keep in mind when raising sisters and brothers…
#1 Your children will not be alike in all things, and so your parenting approaches will need to be unique to them. Each child will have their own desires, affinities, and needs and it is very likely that they will be different from your own. It is your role as parent to foster these things in your child, so, that their true selves can come alive. When we let our children “shine” individually, we will be less likely to compare them and more likely to show them a love that is equal despite their differences.
#2 Because they live together under one roof and share life experiences, your children will also have a unique bond that cannot be replicated. These shared experiences will lead to a common language, based upon similar experiences within your home and family life. Hopefully these bonds will be the thread that ties them together despite their differences. They will be connected by their inside jokes and funny family stories that retell their shared experiences. If we as parents make these connections positive and foster special connections we can help them hold their relationships together. Help your children foster these unique relationships by fostering positive responses to each other, by having open conversations about the mixed emotions of sister and brotherhood and by celebrating both their differences and their common ground.