Nurturing the Sibling Relationship for Long Term Impact
Few events in life bring with them more questions than becoming a parent. How to provide the best environment and nurturing possible are just a few. As more little bundles joined our family, so did more questions and challenges. Many we plan on struggling with for years to come.
But here is one you might not think about. What can parents do today, while their children are young, to influence the adult relationship they will someday have? The sibling relationship is almost always the longest relationship anyone will ever have. All the more reason to make it as rich and rewarding as possible.
I’ve also noticed something interesting when speaking to parents. Most are petrified about what kind of relationship their children will sometimes have. Many parents do not enjoy a very positive relationship with their siblings (a thought for another day) and they want better for their children. So do my wife and I! This question led to the research and ultimately publication of the book Close Kids – Connect Your Children For Life.
So what makes siblings close? Is it a series of shared experiences or common values? Pure luck? There is a wide difference of adult relationships among siblings, but how can parents affect the outcome? The short answer is “yes”, parents can certainly influence the outcome!
The first thing parents need to make sure of is a subtle point to an obvious element…time. Kids need to have the time to just be together in a playful environment. It may take some effort and planning, but putting children in situations where they just enjoy each other’s company is a great thing. While this is certainly not a novel idea, it is, in practice, often overlooked. It is also measurably harder to do today than days of old when sometimes the only entertainment for siblings was each other.
The challenge is for parents to find balance in what we let children do. Balance time together, balance time alone, and balance the million and one other things going on in a family. Balance is ultimately found by recognizing all the different activities your crew is doing and not being dominated by a few.
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