Siblings Connection Throughout Life

The value of sibling relationships is often unrecognized and underappreciated in childhood. Many children, impacted by sibling rivalry, attempt to discredit, diminish and point out their sibling’s faults or fight with each other as a subconscious test of their parents’ loyalty and favoritism. It is crucial that parents successfully handle these battles in a healthy way that supports each child’s esteem and showers them with love and admiration. How can parents effectively manage sibling rivalry and promote their connection through life?

Sibling rivalry is universal and dates back to the known example from Genesis 2, of Cain and Able’s. Cain’s offering to God of “fruit of the soil” was less favored by God than Able “choicest firstling of his flock of sheep” which led Cain to kill his brother in a fit of jealousy. This extreme ancient example manifests the intensity of being disfavored that led a brother to an uncontrollable rage and murder.

Conversely, brotherly and sisterly love and bonding is common and inspiring. It entails loyalty, caring, devotion and lifelong supportive connections many siblings develop that builds their loving bond from childhood, while others reconnect later in life in a renewed appreciation of their common roots and their unique loyalty and love for each other.

In “The Developing Child” Judy Dunn challenges the ideas that birth order, age gap and gender play a primary role in children’s connection or distance from each other. She suggests that the interaction between siblings affects children’s personalities, intelligence, their styles of speech, and views of themselves, their families and friends.

In “The Sibling Bond” Stephen Bank and Michael Kahn state that “The sibling relationship is life’s longest lasting relationship, longer, for most of us by a quarter of a century than our ties with our parents. It lasts longer than our relationship with our children, certainly longer than with a spouse, and with the exception of a few lucky men and women, longer than with our best friend.”

Jeffrey Kluger, the author of “The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us” states, “From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys.”

Teach your children to cherish their bond:

  • Model for your children a respectful and loving attitude toward each other through your connection with your siblings.
  • List for your children the blessing of brotherhood and sisterhood in the present and in years to come.
  • Correct your youngsters’ language and attitude toward each other by rephrasing their scorn to appreciative words.
  • Promise them that their present and future caring will benefit them greatly in their lives.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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