Siblings are often the first childhood playmates and friends; in some families depending on proximity and emotional closeness, cousins are the next best thing especially for an only child. Every mother and father can relate to the dull ache inside that is caused when these childhood buddies fight and hurt each other (emotionally) — if the fighting and hurt progresses to physical damages, the pain and fear becomes sharp and unbearable.
As our children grow into adulthood and parents, aunts and uncles get older, we worry that our dear, sweet children might not stay close and be there for each other during the good as well as bad times.
It’s a reality that not every sibling shares common interests with the other and perhaps, except for their mutual parentage, they might not otherwise be friends. Just like any longtime friendship life does change, love interests and spouses take priority, perhaps their own children enter the picture, and siblings become part of the extended family that time must be made for. When and if our children marry, or take lifelong partners, we do breathe sighs of relief that they will always have someone to stand by them, but we still hope that their siblings will also be there to love and support when we can no longer be there for them. The household (occupants), work, location, and other obligations can often put a major dent into the time each has for their brother(s) or sister(s).
When there are more than two siblings or there are several years of age difference, the dynamics can be very different. Two may be closer to each other than three or more. There may be an unequal distribution of common interests. Eventually mates might be friendlier with one of their in-laws and encourage that closeness between the siblings. Even couples who each have siblings they grew up with can cause a shift in family dynamics when my side/your side becomes an issue. And it can certainly cause undue strain when opposing siblings actually do oppose each other.
Maturity and life can also make siblings realize how much they like having a brother or a sister. On their own or in a relationship, grown siblings have their own “space” to retreat to which reduces the childhood arguments about possessions. Once teasing words lose their sting just a bit as the adults hear more than insults, or they learn to pick their battles and hopefully overcome the childhood arguments and hurts. Aging parents can bring siblings closer as they fear the inevitable loss and they cease their jealous vying for parents’ attention. Employment and recognition at different workplaces helps to feed egos and lets each feel as if they have escaped “the shadow” and constant comparisons. It is often easier for the adult sibling to become a friend to the other.
We moms and dads want to know that our children are set for life even when we are no longer present to help them, love them and try to soothe them when they hurt. There comes a time when parents can only hope that family love, years of growing up together and a common history will be enough to glue their children together for life.