Opinion Saturday:nurturing sibling friendships

I am working through a list of your great suggestions for Opinion Saturday questions and am featuring one question a week for the next few weeks.

This week’s question is from Beautifulheritage. She asks:

What is the best way to ensure that your children grow up as friends and not just siblings?

You have until next Saturday to share your best tips for nurturing sibling relationships. Come on, hit me with your best thought!

(And in case you’re wondering, the above picture was taken of our girls by a traveling family last week! I can’t wait to see them in person!)

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  1. I’m waiting for the responses!!!! No suggestions, but your girls are beautiful and I’m so glad you’re going to pick them up soon!

  2. Toniette says:

    Hi! I don’t have any kids yet, but I do remember when I was younger… I am the oldest of 4, and I didn’t really like the youngest 2. But I was frustrated with all the fighting and bickering, and didn’t know what to do. The Lord laid it on my young heart to begin to pray for my sisters and brother. Before long, there was less fighting, and more getting along. Now that we are all older, we are great friends!
    When I have children, I want to teach them to pray for eachother as well, and hopefully they will grow up to be friends too!

  3. Lisa Z. says:

    My kids are all great friends and it is truly a blessing!
    I home schooled when the boys were in elementary and middle school, so they spent all their time together. That is the obvious answer to why they get along so well, but I also made sure that their friends never became more important than their brothers. We kept friend-time to a minimal and we made it clear that when friends were over you could not exclude your brothers from the fun. I also had a rule that still stands “If you can’t be friends with your brothers, you can’t have friends over.” My boys are all teens and in high school and they are still best friends. It is also working with my little girls, ages 6 and 8. My favorite saying for them is “your sister is your first friend” and they really do like each other and play so well together. Again, I am blessed!

  4. My only suggestion is pretty simple: Lots of time together!

    I love seeing pictures of your girls. So excited for you!

  5. I really believe the best way to teach my girls to be friends is to lead by example. By that I mean being a friend to my own brother. He and I have a pretty close relationship that my girls have a front row seat for. We are very family oriented people and a large portion of our socializing is with family. Not just siblings, but parents, uncles, aunts, cousins and so on getting together for functions that go beyond the usual family gatherings at holidays and such.

  6. Common experiences they will talk about years later. Giving them a chance to direct and plan memory-making occasions. Encouraging them to involve each other in their lives, but not forcing involvement.

    My siblings and I are friends. We are genuinely interested in each others lives and we love each other very much. I don’t recall my parents doing anything specific to encourage this. We fought like crazy as kids, especially my sister and I.

    Mary—your girls are beautiful and have that “lit-from-within” look.

  7. I plan to write a response, but had to say…look at your beautiful girls! What gorgeous young ladies…and those smiles.

  8. Veronica Mitchell says:

    My first two girls are 18 months apart, and in the beginning my oldest did not like her new little sister. That turned around when I moved them into the same room together. The time they spent alone together after lights out and before breakfast persuaded them to like each otehr. Now I actually have the problem of getting them to stop playing together so they’ll sleep.

  9. great question. (since i’m an only child an i only have 1 daughter at the moment…i’m curious to the suggestions.) i love the picture!

  10. I think the best way to teach siblings to be friends is by insuring that the family they grow up in is emotionaly healthy and nuturing. Kids raised in dysfunctional homes are competing for attention because there is never enough to go around.

  11. Our kids all share rooms. There is just dorm syle ‘boys’ room and ‘girls room in this house. The funny thing is, when given the opportunity, all 7 will sleep in the same room. I think the late night giggling and chats really add to their relationships.

    We also do a lot together as a family. We are fortunate enough to have a flexible summer and we travel together from the the time school lets out until Labor Day. All 7 kids share a tent when we are working at our summer camp, and all 7 share a room at their grandparents house at the beach.

    I think all the ‘togetherness’ forces them to get along… otherwise it would make for a really long summer! But honestly, my kids have so much fun together. I notice when we are out at places with other kids, they tend to move in a ‘pack’. They often pick up other kids to play with as well, but as a group.

  12. I truly believe that the family that does everything together will often have the strongest relationships. Work, play, worship, serve, study, etc.

    As for my experience as a sister, it was hard as kids to be friends! We’re all at least 3 years apart in age, and it really most of the time came down to the two big kids and the two little kids (I was number 3, so I got stuck bickering with my younger sister all the time while my older siblings went off and did things together).

    It wasn’t until my oldest sister moved away that my brother and I realized we had a lot in common. Then when he went to college, my little sister and I got a lot closer. Then my oldest sister moved back home, and we got to be closer. Now the four of us are different as can be but good friends—partly because we have the bond of common family experiences (and inside jokes!) to tie us together.

  13. that is a great question! i really want my kids to grow up and like each other. i think that is so important. can’t wait to read the responses.

  14. I agree with the comment that sharing rooms is important. I am not of the thinking that each kid needs their own room. My youngest has his own room just because he was last to come along, but if we adopt a girl all the boys are moving upstairs together. The older boys (12 & 10 1/2) are always up talking after we tuck them in. I love hearing them giggle. They have to work together to keep it clean, and they learn to work with each others differences. Also, when a friend comes over, they are here for everyone to enjoy, there is no excluding one brother. Even the youngest can be included in lego or sword fighting play! They pray for each other, and we also are constantly telling them, your friends will come and go, but you will always have your brother, they are your best buddies! THey do fight at times, but when they are out somewhere they watch out for each other. It was great to read all of these suggestions others posted. Great question! One more thing, don’t get discouraged if they don’t seem like friends now, I never thought of my sisters as “friends” growing up, but they are such great friends now!

  15. First of all, the girls are beautiful and their eyes are shining with love. I feel very hopeful for all of you to be together soon. The question you ask is wonderful and lots of great comments. My personal take on this is complex. I am very close to my sister. She is my best friend, but we fought a lot as kids and even as teens. My mom is also best friends with her sister, and they also fought a lot as kids and teens. So I guess I say that there is always hope!
    Now as to how one can create these deep bonds that one hopes will last a lifetime? I am a firm believer in family dinners, and I know that can be difficult when there are a lot of kids and many sports’ schedules. Do your best to figure this part out because I feel it is crucial to long term love and understanding. Try to always talk about your days and your feelings and have fun too at the table. Another thing that is important and has been mentioned is shared experiences like family vacations – these do not need to be fancy – camping is awesome for this sort of thing. It also helps if the kids see positive sibling relationships modeled by their parents. Whatever you tell them will never mean as much as what they see you do with your own siblings – if you are fortunate to have them! If you and your siblings have differences of your own, be careful not to air those in front of your own children so they can see the positive love and fun that you share with your own sisters and brothers!

  16. In addition to what everyone else has said… Never berate, belittle, discipline, or pick- on a child in front of other siblings or other adults. Kids will pick up on this in an instant and will follow your lead, creating obvious conflict. None of the above metioned ( aside from discipline) should even exsist in a home.

  17. Our 3 are best friends–whether they recognize it or not. Time together is the key–in our case home schooling and being each other’s primary playmates is the big one. However I think avoiding all the cultural “sibling rivalry” and rudeness makes a difference as well. They are not exposed to tv shows and movies in which siblings hate each other so they enjoy each others company. Also they are expected to value each other over objects–if they place and activity or thing ahead of each other in affection then they lose the activity or item.

  18. Don’t let them backstab, tattle, judge each other, etc… It doesn’t matter how much time they spend together if they are not good to each other. Model being a good friend and a good sibling and don’t let them be bad friends to each other.

  19. Here is the thing that I think is most important. Set up their lives so that they have time to be together. If I notice that my children are starting to be unkind to each other and leave each other out of play with other kids I put a stop to playing with their kids for a couple of days. The first day they they will bug me for a while to go and play with their friends. I simply say no and redirect their attention to a fun activity that they can do together. By day two or three they simply stop asking because they are having so much fun playing together.

    This morning my daughter woke up and remembered that my son was sleeping over at his grandma’s. (She was too scared to spend the night as well.) She spent a long time crying and asking for her brother to come home so he could play with her because she misses him. So far it’s working.

  20. I’m so excited for you to get your girls!

    One thing I do with the kids is work with them on what a wonderful thing it is to praise each other. So if one of them does something well, we all clap and cheer, and they have helped each other learn to walk, or be potty-trained, by encouraging each other. I say a lot of things like, “Isn’t your sister funny?” or “Isn’t our baby so cute?” and they agree. They are learning how much joy comes from encouraging one another.

    Also, because of the me first syndrome, I’ve been having them take turns saying “my sister can go first,” or “can he have the first one?” They get really into it, it’s all a big game to them.

    They’re still pretty young, but they really all are best friends, the first to laugh at each other’s jokes and. Now if only I could work on the empathy factor. That’s the next thing on the list 🙂