Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training

August 13th, 2013 by Dionna | 17 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Consensual Living, Eclectic Learning, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting

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Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings — their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training

Sibling Revelry: Nature or Nurture

A friend recently commented on how loving and close Kieran and Ailia are. “Is it something you are doing?,” she asked, “or do you think it’s their personalities?”

Probably a little of both, I think. As far as personalities go, Kieran and Ailia are both loving kids.

Kieran reserves his fierce love for those he knows well; Ailia is more of a share-it-with-the-world type. Kieran has always loved babies and toddlers (even when he was one), and his reservoir of patience for littles extends to his sister. In all honesty, he thinks the sun rises and sets on Ailia.

(To give you an example, read the quotes on each of the pictures in this post. They are all things Kieran has said about Ailia in the past six months.)

Ailia’s joyful exuberance and daring nature have helped her learn how to join in Kieran’s play at her own level. At this point in their lives, their personalities fit together well.

Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training

Before Ailia was born, we made efforts to prepare Kieran for a sibling, in hopes of staving off any feelings of rejection. Kieran was excited for a new baby. He was fully involved in midwife appointments and preparing for a baby, and he even “trained” to be my labor partner.

We took care to explain and help with any big transitions – sleeping arrangements, the time mama would need to devote to the baby, etc. Once we had Ailia, Kieran had many, many turns snuggling and bonding with her, and we encouraged every minute of it.

In short, we laid the groundwork for love, and we took care to foster it. But parents can only do so much, of course. Tom and I can’t pat ourselves on the backs prematurely – who knows how Kieran and Ailia’s relationship will change in coming years.

Sibling Revelry 1

One of my top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships. Siblings get an intense crash course in relationships; probably moreso than kids do with adult caregivers alone.

Siblings are on a more even playing field, so to speak. Living in close quarters, sharing so much of their time and possessions – it’s little wonder siblings can have tumultuous relationships.

Just today, Kieran was having a hard time playing with a friend. We sat and talked about different ways he can handle problems, and I mentioned that it’s ok to learn new ways to have healthy relationships. I reassured him that I’m still learning how to be a good mama, and I am always open to new ideas to help improve our relationship and communication. He said, “you’re not learning, you’re a grown-up!”

Ah, how I wish that was true.

And so I hope that we can continue to help Kieran and Ailia learn to navigate siblinghood – and relationships in general – in a healthy way.

How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?

17 Responses to:
"Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training"

  1. jana   janafalls

    I agree that it’s important to draw our focus and our little’s focus to building healthy relationships.

    One of my defining moment as an adult was when I realize that just because my mom was my ‘mom’ didn’t mean that she was wise or with it or trying to grow as a person.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I remember having an aha moment when I became a mother – it really helped me put my own parents’ “shortcomings” into perspective!

  2. Sibylle

    I think that siblings that get on well from a very early age probably get on the rest of their lives too. My sister and I had completely clashing personalities as children, and even if we played together a lot, we fought even more, but today, we are like close friends and I am very happy to know her and be her sister. I hope that with that start in life, Kieran and Ailia are going to be best friends forever.

  3. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    Oh my goodness! Those pictures and quotes are just the sweetest things ever!!!

    Thanks for hosting! I’m loving this month’s carnival topic.

  4. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    Having seen them in person now (so. cute.), I can attest to how loving and snuggly they are with each other. It was a treat to see!

    Mikko loves babies but doesn’t have as much patience for Alrik. He’ll often tell me we should get a new baby instead of his brother. Ha! Oh, well, we work with what we’ve got. Be thankful yours are so close, and thanks for the inspiration to work to help ours grow closer!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      If Kieran would have had more time around Alrik, I bet he would have been doting all over him too. We thought both of your boys were pretty awesome :)

  5. Rachael   RachaelNevins

    More than a year and a half later, I regret that we didn’t do much to prepare L for the birth of his brother. Once that pregnancy got complicated, I was sort of a mess. Not really how you want a new life brought into your family, but I guess that’s the way it goes sometimes.

    As for this idea — One of my top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships — I admit I’d never thought to consider their relationship in this way! I tend to focus simply on supporting the development of their relationship in itself.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I almost wrote a post about how we talk to each other in my family of origin (when we’re frustrated, we get a really derisive tone), and how I want my kids to treat each other like they’d treat friends. But really, I want my kids to treat friends like they treat each other – with love and respect.

  6. Kelli

    They look like they have such a precious relationship. And that first photo of them is stunning! I was terrified to have a second child bc my relationship with my brother was such a huge train wreck. It has taken me years to recover! But I feel a great sense of relief now that I have finally (FINALLY) realized that my two are on a completely different path. It thrills me to no end to not see history repeating itself and to witness their undying love for one another. I never imagined falling in love with someone else’s relationship. It’s powerful stuff!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I feel that way about a lot of things. For example, one reason I never wanted to have a daughter was that I know what my life was like as a teenager. I did not want to repeat history with another generation. But Ailia is a different person, I’m a different parent, and she’ll write her own story :)

  7. Deb @ Living Montessori Now   DebChitwood

    Your photos are priceless, Dionna … what adorable kids! I expect that your kids will always be close … mine stayed that way. Yours have a fabulous beginning in their sibling relationship! :)

  8. I love this! That thing about waiting for someone to wake up–my kids totally want to wake the other one, and it drives me nuts…but is cute. We don’t have many rules in our family, but one is, “Never wake a sleeping baby!”

    It must be a true blessing to watch them grow together.

  9. I love the pictures and the quotes! How wonderful that your children are so close. So far my boys adore each other, but we’re only 5 months in… Let’s hope it stays that way.

  10. How adorable! Your son’s words…amazing not just the lovely bond but the fact that he expresses his feelings so honestly and openly! I’m melting. I love the idea of them being on an even playing field and that the sibling bond helps them relate to their peers. Thanks for sharing and co-hosting this month! I love this topic :)

  11. Ana   anazpanda

    This is so sweet. I can only hope that Niko will be so involved and wonderful if we decide to add a sibling!

    And Amen to always learning! There’s always something new to master when it comes to relationships betwixt people.

  12. What a great start in their relationship you have given them. I am sure it will continue it has for me!

  13. Those captions with the beautiful photos brought tears to my eyes! Your little girl will grow up with fabulous self-esteem from seeing herself so lovingly mirrored in her brothers eyes.
    I myself was an only child with a half brother 10 years older and another 10 years younger, both of whom lived too far to visit regularly. I felt very lonely as a child, with a single mother too busy having to do the work of two parents to spend much time with me, and I longed desperately for a sibling playmate.
    At 6 years old however my mother began fostering teenage girls and despite a host of rather less favourable aspects, I guess I did acquire some positive traits from growing up periodically being the ‘little’ sister at first, and later on the ‘big’ sister.
    After the birth of my son I expressed how important it was to me to provide him with a sibling. Luckily my partner, the eldest of three, felt the same way, and now we also have a beautiful nearly year old daughter. In the past couple of months we have felt a real shift in our sons feelings toward his sister as he’s finally relaxed into his new role as big brother and it seems a firm and beautiful friendship is definitely forming. :)

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