Sibling friendships. Is it possible?

Last night it was after 11 when I finally chased my teenage boys (14 and 16) off to bed. Like most other Americans, we’ve been staying up rather late to watch the Olympics. My older girls (20 and 18) were already up in their room, not quite to bed yet, but aiming to head that way soon. The boys stopped at the girls’ doorway at the top of the stairs for a chat. Within minutes the voices and the laughter got loud. I listened with a smile on my lips, despite the fact that the decibel level was well beyond bedtime levels, and my ‘moderator’ instincts were wishing for silence.

Siblings who are friends. It is a goal of every mother, I suppose. My younger ones are still a work in progress in that department. About 75% of the time they do pretty well. The rest of the time they alternate between scowling grimly across the room at each other, giving each other the cold shoulder, running to me screaming for justice, and pelting each other with dirty tube socks. Yeah, still some growing up to do…

But these big kids. Of course their relationships aren’t perfect either, but it is obvious that they already have a deep appreciation for each other. They find each other amusing and smart and interesting. They are true friends. I’m not sure if I really appreciated my siblings til my 20’s. I am so happy my kids didn’t have to wait until adulthood to begin to appreciate each other.

Talk continues loudly. Laughter belts out frequently. My husband has already gone to bed since he rises at 4:30 for work, but thankfully our bedroom is at the opposite end of the house and my husband has the fan turned on. Still, I feel a tension to speak. They’re 20 feet from the 10 year old boys’ doorway, and I don’t know how sleep could be happening that close to the ruckus.

But still I sit smiling. A few more minutes. Time slipping by. The moments are short. Eldest was planning to move out, into an apartment with a friend this fall. Plans didn’t quite materialize, and she’s home after all. But Friday morning John and I will head to the dorms with Second Daughter, getting her settled in with 3 roommates, ready to begin her college adventure. Time is short.

And so they laugh, and joke and tell stories.

And I bite my tongue for moment after moment. Until finally the referee overrides the sentimental in me. I zing a message upstairs via Eldest’s Facebook page. “Shhh.”

I’m not sure if my daughter’s even watching her computer, such is the fun they’re having. A minute goes by, then two. There’s a group chuckle and then the noise quiets and the big boys trail off to their bedroom. And I’m left with a smile and a regret at cutting off the fun and a deep abiding joy in the friendships my children are building.


  1. Mmmm. I’m so glad that my brother and I are in that place now. We wasted a lot of years not being there.

    And, even though I complain about my kids fighting they are mostly great friends. The laughter is great, isn’t it?

  2. I love the picture of all that sibling ruckus and laughter that you evoke here. My two older girls are 17 and 20. They went through a lot together as the survivors of my divorce from their dad. They also had a lot of adventures together with each of their parents individually. They used to fight and bicker a lot, but nothing out of the ordinary… now that the 20 year old is off in The City, they plan weekends together to put new adventures in the story book of their sisterhood.

  3. I’m waiting for this… because right now, I’m not sure that it will ever happen… but your post gives me hope and I can picture myself where you are, listening, enjoying

  4. brings back good memories. we were about that age when friendship kicked in. i remember everyone convening in one bedroom and howling with laughter over everything.

  5. Fabulous writing, as usual.

    My two oldest are very good friends and I’m so thankful for that. They are only 15 months apart in age and have always had a “built in” friend. I know not every set of siblings that close in age get along well, but mine always have. The others? Not so much. But I hold out hope that once they all get through the competition phase and realize that they don’t have to “win” to be happy, they will realize what great people they are surrounded with.

    My sister and I are best friends now. We talk on the phone at least once a day and see each other several times a month. We tell ourselves it is to “get the cousins together.” It’s not, it’s totally for us!! But we are setting a good example for our children, right?


  6. My siblings and I were never encouraged to be friends, which I regret now. My brother and I still aren’t friends really. My sister and I were well into our adult years before we became friends. Consequently, I have an intense desire to foster friendship between my own kids.

  7. Love this post! This is what I desire and pray for my kids. Thanks for the mental picture of what the future could be like, it’s great.


  8. Sitting here with eyes full to the brim, hoping they don’t spill out on the laptop keyboard. This is what I long for here at my house, too. I can see why you resisted halting the chat as long as you did.

    Your post gives me hope, Mary, that one day my12-year-old, almost 10-year-old and 8-year-old will be friends as well.

    Thanks so much for sharing and for giving me a glimpse past the days of bickering and demands for constant justice. What a view!

  9. What a joy! My brother and I became closer and closer as the years went by although we had our share of fights when we were younger. My two eldest do fight at times but considering they spend every waking moment together (and sleep in the same room) I think they do pretty well considering. I know deep down they love each other dearly.
    Thanks for this post…this is our goal.

  10. I’ve just begun seeing glimpses of sibling friendship between our 8 and 10 year old girls….it seems like maybe we’ve tipped the scales to getting along together more than not….

    and I love it that you facebook your daughter in the other room…what a cool mom!!

  11. What a fun post! My sister and I weren’t truly friends until I the summer I graduated college (she’s 2.5 years behind me). But now, she’s definitely one of my best friends. I love that your kids are so close already! That’s got to be a great feeling as a mom.

  12. jfrancishill says:

    The power of ‘mom’
    is awesome
    and soft
    as a “Shhh”.

  13. I have been meaning to write about how much I enjoy your blog since I recently started reading it. We also have a larger family with adopted children and it is so encouraging to hear about the joys and challenges of raising children from someone who shares a similar situation. There are so few larger families ‘out there’ that it is a gift to hear from someone who celebrates the diversity and uniqueness of an adoptive family. I particularly enjoyed this image of your older children as friends – as you said, it is what we all hope to see in our children. Thank you for the gift of your writing!

  14. Hi Mary, I know this is completely unrelated to any of your recent posts, so I apologise for being vastly off topic. My 3yr old is showing a huge interest in words etc, I’m interested in encouraging that by helping him start to read a bit himself, do you have any suggestions for online resources that I can access?

  15. I love the bedtime conversations and laughter…I never want to quash it as much as my DH does. I just know someday i’ll miss it so much.

  16. That is my new goal in life…brother who actually “like” each other.

  17. Oh my word, I’m holding onto this one, Mary. My 3 spend the better part of their day trying to figure out how best to torture one another.

    I pray daily for friendship to blossom. While I’m still alive. 🙂

  18. I so want this for my children. My older daughters are 16 & 13 and they still aren’t there yet although I do see glimmers. My older boys are 11 and almost 9 and they aren’t even close.
    I’m praying.

  19. This is what I crave for my children! They are still only ages 3 and 16 months, so I have plenty of time to instill this, but it is my deepest desire, second only to my wish that they have a meaningful relationship with Christ.

    I am not close at all with my siblings – one suffered too much oxygen deprivation as a young child with an undiagnosed seizure disorder and is simply on a different mental page than I am. The other is a half-brother I only saw half the time.

    My husband, on the other hand, has three siblings and when I read this post, I thought of them. Family get-togethers with them are fun-filled with inside jokes and memories. Everytime I’m with them, I long for my own children to become like them.

    Have you posted any tips on raising siblings to be friends? I would love to read them if you have.

    (Besides prayer. That’s a given. :-P)

    Thanks for sharing!

  20. Mel,
    Not Mary – but my now 5 year old was very similar. We love! With that and playing Leap Pad and the Leap Pad Letter Factory DVD’s he taught himself phonics.

  21. OH, how I relate! Good for you for not raining on their parade. I do it all too often here, but occasionally I will let them laugh and carry on only to discover that they will surely go to bed on their own in short order.


  22. I read this wistfully, thinking of the days when my children will be older. How I long to hear them laughing and talking together as friends and NOT calling each other “stinky” or “peanut-head.” You’ve obviously done a remarkable job!

  23. Sibling friendships are the absolute best. My two older daughters are the best of friends (they’re 26 and 20) and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is as their mom to see them appreciating each other so much (sometimes at a very high decibel level…:) )

  24. This is so beautiful! It made me want to weep. Having not had close siblings relationships, and much brokenness in my family, I LONG for this for my own children. I’ve heard so many comments by people – just wait until they are teenagers! I love the stage they are in now, it’s going by way too quickly, but I am also looking forward to the day when I have to decide do I shush them, or let them carry on for a few more minutes. Thank you so much – what an encouragement!