Is there a way to bring up DC to help them have a close sibling relationship?

(24 Posts)
ppandj Tue 01-Nov-16 11:04:05

Just wondering really. I am pregnant with my second baby- another boy, though I don't suppose that makes that much difference. I've been pondering the difference between my relationship with my sister and DP's relationship with BIL. He is one of two boys, I'm one of two girls. I am very close to my mum and my sister, and had a very good relationship with my dad until recently but that's irrelevant. DSis and I are best friends, we live down the same street and generally get on really well; despite having opposing views sometimes, we always work things out and have a special bond. DP and BIL are not close at all, they have no shared interests and barely speak. DP is very close to his parents and grandparents, particularly his FIL. Obviously, I would really like DS1 and DS2 to have a close relationship like I have with my sibling and I wondered if there is anything you can do as a parent to help create this? Or do you just have to accept they may not get along?

golfmonkey Tue 01-Nov-16 20:46:25

I honestly don't know, but I suspect there are many different ways to do it and its probaby a mixture of luck and parenting choices. I'd like my girls to be close, as I am with my sister. Our parents gave us the same opportunities but at the same time treated us as individuals. They never had a clear favourite. Our personalities are different, and I think that probably helps. We always did plenty of family activities, and though we fought a lot as kids, we also played a lot together, we shared a bedroom until we were 11 and 12. I'm sure some of that helped us, though we are much closer now than when we were younger. I think once I left home we still made a lot of effort to stay in touch. I doubt you can force it, but if you are close to your sister, I'd think back to how you grew up and what may have helped your relationship. Some siblings might have gone through a difficult childhood together and become closer as a result, I was lucky to have a very stable home life. I'm sure the fact you want your children to be close is a great starting point.

KCpip Wed 02-Nov-16 07:58:41

The only suggestion I have is don't make a big deal of differences/make comparisons. In many situations I've noticed where siblings aren't close there often seems to be one child that "fits in" with family and expectations while the other one doesn't. If you're children are similar and get on great but if they have completely different interests/takes on life just embrace/enjoy/celebrate it. And encourage them to be themselves. Hope that helps.

Backingvocals Wed 02-Nov-16 08:02:46

Treat them equally, love them equally. Often when siblings don't get on its because of a sense of injustice about parental love not being equal.

Agree that a tougher childhood can bring siblings together but you won't want to engineer that wink

claraschu Wed 02-Nov-16 08:04:41

We have done everything we could to help ours be close to one another: no comparisons, lots of family activities and travel, stable home, no favouritism. Our kids are not close now that they are 21, 18 and 15, and it makes me really sad. I still hope they might find each other as they get older, but I think it is unlikely. They don't hate each other, just don't really stay in touch at all.

Inthenick Wed 02-Nov-16 08:40:27

I really want the magic formula to this too!

My sister and I are very close but fought terribly till I joined her in boarding school at 11. Then we stuck together instantly and became suddenly close knowing we only had each other there.

My mum was always very close with her sister and told us how precious a friend sisters were. It did filter down.

LiveLifeWithPassion Wed 02-Nov-16 08:40:48

Claraschu don't they get on when they're together?
When my siblings and I were that age, we didn't really bother with each other that much but now we re older and with kids of our own, we all get on quite well.

I think treating them as individuals, not comparing them with each other, ensuring lots of time together, doing all the right things to boost their self esteem can only help.

Sometimes it must just come down to personality types.

claraschu Wed 02-Nov-16 08:51:53

Mine do get on when they are together, but they don't really talk to each other or seek each other out. When they are apart, they will go for months without so much as a Facebook message. I feel like we did everything "right" but they just went their separate ways, without having much interest in one another sad.

EmpressOfTheSevenOceans Wed 02-Nov-16 09:05:53

My brother & I (18 month gap) get on fine when we're together but I wouldn't say we were that close.

I'm a lot closer to my sister (5 yr gap, I'm the oldest sibling). We're really good friends now but that only really developed once I'd left home.

We fought all the time as kids & frankly, sharing a room wouldn't have brought us closer together. It would have made me stay out as much as possible.

So even if they can't stand each other as kids it doesn't mean that won't change later.

Achooblessyou Wed 02-Nov-16 09:10:36

Mine (13 and 11) are best friends. The thing I did that I suspect contributed was - as young kids if they fought over toys, the toy got put away, no question. I also made them say sorry if they hurt the other - accident or otherwise. And if we can't decide on day out/take out options, they sort it out between themselves before we can set off. Probably too simplistic but it's worked for me - they are brilliant together. Having said that we're just starting with hormones so watch this space!

Eolian Wed 02-Nov-16 09:14:41

I have no idea - I think a lot of it is luck tbh. My sister and I didn't really get on that well until she was a teenager (4.5 yrs age gap, I'm the eldest). We were very unalike as kids but not as adults and get on very well now.
My dc, boy and girl 8 and 11 are surprisingly close. They have massive rows but get on very well most of the time. It helps they have a lot of shared interests. Dd is a very 'ungirly' girl, which helps. I hope their friendship survives the teenage years!

ThinkOfAWittyNameLater Wed 02-Nov-16 09:14:47

Agree with treating equally & fairly but don't treat them exactly the same. They're individuals & should be accepted as such to help build their confidence.

Finally they may click & become great pals,they may not. It's their relationship- let them get on with it.

(Based on successful experience as a younger sister to older brother, rather than parent - we live nearby but not in each other's pockets. We are there for each other without question or judgment.)

Wombat87 Wed 02-Nov-16 09:21:24

I don't know if you can force it. My sister and I are 18months apart. As children we loved each other, as teenagers we hated each other. As young adults we got better and as proper grown ups we are definitely closer. Whether we'll be best friends or not who knows, but try not to force it.

Clankboing Wed 02-Nov-16 09:22:56

Teach kindness constantly. Not just between each other either. To animals, to the elderly, etc. Do things together like reading books. Encourage taking turns. Help each other to tidy up together. I realise that this doesn't apply as much until they are older. Remember when the baby is born too, that you can make up a little story saying that you went to the shop downstairs in the hospital and you were sure that he glanced at a soft toy. You are sure that he wanted it for his big brother etc and that soft toy is then a gift for big brother.

5moreminutes Wed 02-Nov-16 09:24:02

KCPip is right - don't label them especially with comparative qualities (the pretty one and the clever one, the sensible one and the creative one, the popular one and the quiet one... you might think both labels are positive but the child will think the sibling's label is more favoutable) even privately with DH because they will eventually realise even if not til they are teens or adults. If they feel unfairly (or even fairly) compared by you they will resent one another.

Also don't make topics taboo -if you won't let them talk about grievances in the early stages and want them to just get along so you don't have to see any conflict they will stop communicating at all, or in any way except the superficial for your sake, as adults.

How they get on when living with you does not directly translate to how they get on as independent adults but once they are adults don't try and manage their relationship with one another!

Clankboing Wed 02-Nov-16 09:25:11

Whenever children argued I got them to say sorry and hug each oother after. You can see the relief on their faces when it is solved.

ChilliMum Wed 02-Nov-16 09:31:39

I don't know really but I wonder if there is a family culture thing. I was always brought up to bélevé famity was important and not something to be taken for granted.
My parents always made an effort to keep in touch with their siblings and so my db and I grew up in a large extended family with lots of aunties uncles and cousins.
Now I am a parent I want the same for my children and so I make the effort.
DH doesn't have a large extended family and grew up in situation where friendships replaced that relationship so i guess you dont value/miss what you didnt have and if I didn't push him to keep in contact I can envisage a future where my kids wouldn't recognise their cousins if they passed them in the street.

5moreminutes Wed 02-Nov-16 09:34:22

See I think the opposite about forcing children to say sorry - I remember really resenting being forced to apologise when I felt I had been the one wronged (my younger sister would often taunt and bait me when I was trying to read or had a friend over and she was bored, including personal insults about my weight and physically jumping on me if I was sitting or lying down to read, but if I finally snapped at her she would instantly run to my parents in tears and I would have to apologise and then play with her to show I was sorry, so she got exactly what she wanted).

I suppose it depends how you do it, but my mother still now is convinced she was always scrupulously fair (I think she thinks of fairness mainly in terms of spending the same amount of money though tbh)

Jackiebrambles Wed 02-Nov-16 09:39:30

I don't think you can do much really. My sister and I are 2 years apart. Played together brilliantly til secondary school, then hated each other through teen years, fought like cat and dog, then when she left for uni we wrote to each other (this was before email!). Been extremely close ever since, and we are late 30s/early 40s.

My parents always treated us as individuals and equals - always made sure we were treated the same. We are very different too, she's shy and very clever, I'm more confident and not as bright! We were celebrated by our folks for what we were good at.

MrsJayy Wed 02-Nov-16 09:48:08

Treat them equally and fairly is great advice if they squabble most will don't make out 1 is to blame over the other this could cause resentment. My dds are adults now and they get on great now they did fight as kids they did have times when they didn't get on but there is 5 years between them. I have a big gap between me and my sister over 10 years we are close as adults dh and his brother are 14 months apart and they have not spoken to each other for years. Im not sure what the secret is but im sure your boys will be fine.

Yokohamajojo Wed 02-Nov-16 09:49:26

My boys are now 9 and 7 and I have no idea if they will be close or not. They flit between hating each other and then sleeping in the same bed. I do hope they will be great friends when they are older. They are very different in personalities so could go either way really

murphys Wed 02-Nov-16 10:07:13

I don't know what the magic formula is to be honest, but all I know is that I am extremely lucky that my ds 17 and dd 14 are so very close.

I don't know if its because of being pigeon pair, or the fact that I have always treated them equally... there is none of this, oh but you must do x because you are the boy etc.. if there's stuff needing done they both do it.

Although there are arguments from time to time, I really could count on one hand any times that I had to intervene, and always they just made up and carried on.

Now dd's best friend is a middle child with an older sister and a younger brother. I have never seen kids fight and argue like that. I don't know if it that is normal, as it certainly is not in our house, but for one sister to call the other a bitch, to f off our my room and that sort of thing, is just not on for me.

Rule no. one for us is to speak to others as you would like to be spoken to, even if during a heated discussion. I also reprimanded the dc when they were younger for calling someone stupid, I cannot tolerate that word as name calling, as it is degrading and you never know how the other person would take it. But, I do think personalities have a lot to do with it. Ds is such a calm, gentle kid, takes a lot to get him riled up, but when he does, you know you have crossed the line with him. Dd understands him with his ADD and tactile issues and never uses that against him. Although she is younger, ds will talk to dd about school, girls and anything really, he claims that because she is a girl, she will see it from a girls perspective as well as his, being her brother wink.

So maybe its just the understanding of each other that forms the bond?

misscph1973 Wed 02-Nov-16 10:13:47

My DS and I are very close, and so is my DD and DS. I think partly my DS and I were close because our parents divorced. My DC I think are close because we moved country (to England) when they were 1 and 3 years old. So as other posters have said, traumatic experiences do help.

My DH has not got a very close relationship with his DS, they don't have a lot on common, but to me it looks like he was always the rebel and she was the good girl, so she got more positive attention from the DM, and this didn't exactly help. Also they are both quite selfish in their relationship to their DM.

My DS has a much better relationship to our DM than I do, but it hasn't affected my relationship to my DS, I guess because my problems with my DM only started when I became a teenager - DS is the younger of us, so by the time my DS had teenage problems, my DM had already been through it with me, so it was easier for her to handle as she had the experience by then.

ppandj Fri 04-Nov-16 06:41:37

Thanks for the replies. All interesting and I totally agree that not comparing them, treating them equally but allowing and embracing individuality is probably the best I can do as a parent. My challenge will be to not get involved as I have bad tendencies to meddle, but I recognise it will only breed contempt!

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