Parents can nurture lifelong bonds among siblings

David Heitz

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If you’re a parent, you know that someday you won’t be there for your children anymore. You’ll be dead.

A parental instinct is to prepare for this by making sure your children never are alone. If they have siblings, it’s a blessing to be nourished.

However, that’s not how people always look at relationships among siblings. Some siblings, especially if they have a large gap between ages, have almost nothing in common.

Until mom and dad are gone. Then all they have is each other.

Unfortunately, I do not converse with my sibling. We have not spoken since my father’s funeral in 2015. It’s probably for the best.

But in most situations, everyone – especially parents – should encourage siblings to forge strong bonds and remain close. There are several ways to do this.

Don’t play siblings off one another

First, make sure you don’t breed resentment between your children. Don’t tell one that he’s not as smart as the other. Or tell the other one he’s not “perfect” like his brother.

My parents frequently played us off one another. My brother and I were indifferent to each other, for the most part. There are nine years between us.

Playing siblings off one another is the wrong thing to do, according to Psychology Today. “Instead of pitting your children against each other, find ongoing ways to unite them in the same mission,” the blog explains. “Can you work together so you’re both ready to leave the house at 8 a.m.? That will give us time to go the long way to school, so we can see the bulldozers at the construction site again.”

My family did not forge many happy memories during my childhood years. We fought all the time, day, and night. The fights became explosive and dangerous at times. I used to have to call the police on my own parents when they’d fight each other.

That’s all I remember about my parents – endless fighting. My brother recalls the “good old days,” when my parents used to get along. He has a completely different worldview from myself. We were raised entirely differently.

Build strong relationships with good deeds

It’s no wonder we don’t get along. Strong families, on the other hand, build strong relationships through deeds. Showing your children that you love them by asking about their day can go along way toward building trust.

Encourage your children to build traditions together. Maybe they all wear a crazy sweater on Black Friday and go shopping. Or they attend a rock concert together once per year.

“Designate a daily 10-minute block of time for two children to spend together,” according to the Psychology Today website. “This is especially helpful if your children are widely spaced in age, or one is less interested in playing together than the other one, because it structures time together into the regular routine and maintains the connection.”

It’s important to say “I love you” before bedtime, even amongst siblings, Psychology Today recommends. “Some families also have the older child read to the younger one before bed, which is a lovely opportunity for bonding.”

Teach kindness, importance of family

Parents can encourage their children to do projects together. Say they want to go to the movies. First, they’ll have to work together and wash the car for their movie fare.

Or you’re all going to see grandma, who just got out of the hospital. You can have your children make a giant greeting card for her.

Remember you can’t make your children be friends. But you can teach them kindness and the importance of family.

Because sometimes family is all you have left. And no parent wants their child to be alone.

#Parenting

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

Denver, CO
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