Brothers and sisters have the potential to enrich your life with so much love and joy. You can be close regardless of how many years there are between you. Reach out and bridge the age difference between you and your siblings.
Steps to Take With Your Siblings
1. Appreciate each other. Your connection with your brothers and sisters will probably be the longest and closest relationships in your life. Treasure those and treat them with care.
2. Share different perspectives. Even though you witness the same events, you have your own individual stories. A toddler and a teen experience a parent’s divorce or moving to a new home very differently.
3. Rethink assumptions about birth order. You may be the exceptions to the usual stereotypes regarding birth order. When there’s a wide age gap, each child may feel like they grew up being the oldest or youngest in the family.
4. Team up. Family responsibilities like caring for elderly parents draw some people back together late in life. The challenges will be less daunting if you’ve always been united.
5. Embrace technology. Technology today makes it easier to communicate across great distances. Email each other between visits. Get a family phone plan. Stay on the lookout for inexpensive airfares.
6. Exchange support. Benefit from the experiences of your older brothers and sisters. Remember that everyone has something to contribute.
7. Examine your attitudes about aging. Ask yourself if aging is an uncomfortable subject for you. Watching people you grew up with become senior citizens may raise issues that deserve further thought.
8. Reminisce together. Reflect on old times. Your brothers and sisters know if you refused to eat anything but peanut butter and apple sauce for a year. Savor happy memories and help each other resolve past dilemmas.
9. Welcome new family members. Of course, many families become more extended as spouses and children come on board. Get to know your in-laws and spend time with your nieces and nephews. Show up for special occasions like graduations and weddings. You can even take your niece out for ice cream just because it’s Wednesday.
Steps to Take With Your Own Children
1. Teach conflict resolution skills. Kids will learn how to resolve their own differences as long as you give them the resources they need. Become a good role model when it comes to cooperation and managing strong emotions. Talk about negotiation skills and compromising.
2. Be generous with your attention. Defuse sibling rivalry by giving everyone an ample share of your attention. Plan family activities and spend time alone with each child.
3. Avoid comparisons. It’s easy to fall into the habit of categorizing people. Try to reduce competition and give your kids room to grow.
4. Create family rituals. Family dinners and holiday traditions build a strong foundation. Your kids will be less likely to drift apart even if they move to opposite ends of the world.
5. Get outside help. Mentoring comes naturally to some brothers and sisters. However, kids may become resentful of siblings that they always have to take care of or help. Sometimes, it may be a better bargain to hire a babysitter or tutor so your teenager can keep up with their own school work and spend time with friends.
6. Forget about artificial ideals. All kinds of kids flourish whether they’re only children, have a big family, or somewhere in between. When it comes to family planning, enjoy whatever form your blessings take.
The age gap between you and your siblings is likely to shrink in significance over the years, but your relationships can grow stronger. Be there for each other and share the milestones of life even if you reach them at different times. You’ll never regret creating and nurturing that strong bond.