Some of you may already know this, but I am the second oldest of 8 children. Six boys and two girls. There are 22 years between my oldest sibling and my youngest sibling. I waited 17 years to get a sister (the youngest). No twins, no adoptions, no step-siblings. My older brother and his wife had their first baby 2 weeks before my youngest sister was born (Father of the Bride anyone?!). I wanted to share with you, my thoughts on siblings, from well, a siblings point of view. My siblings and I have always been pretty close with each other, but I credit that to my parents, and the effort they gave to establish a solid, faith-based, family foundation. Family-time was never forced on us, it just came natural. We happened to spend a lot of time “adventuring” together and always gravitated towards spending time with one another and bringing friends in along for the ride. Siblings is like having built in-best friends, someone to talk to, dream with, and scheme with. Of course we fought like any other set of siblings, we are still human, but when the day is done there is no one we love more than each other. Siblings inherently teach you valuable lessons that become second nature before you realize what is going on. You learn different depths of standard character qualities, like responsibility, compassion, confidence, patience, compromise, adaptability, selflessness, teamwork, leadership, creativity, and love. Of course, I grew up with your larger than average family. We had a 15 passenger van which was lovingly dubbed the “Mothership”, we would drive to all sporting/hockey tournaments and pack the back of it and 1 hotel room like the final level of Tetris. One year we drove from GA to KY to IL to MI to Canada, back to MI, IL and GA. We all know how to cook for an army. Toy companies should have paid us to test the durability of their products, because as my dad always said, our house is where toys come to die. Bear Grylls would have been proud of the forts we built in our back yard, complete with bark finished dining room furniture, mud pies, and all. Squirrels may or may not have been set on fire, brothers may or may not have been tied to the mailbox during a game of “master magician”, and there may or may not be a parade of interestingly dressed up characters at every major holiday. I am trying to convince my mom to write a book 😉 Anyways, we would always attend each others sporting events, making signs, ringing cowbells, and being “that” rowdy group. No one else had that solid of a fan club. I mean, who doesn’t want to feel like a rockstar?! It was nice knowing you always had someone there to cheer you on. We LOVED supporting each other as kids, and now that we are getting older, we LOVE supporting each other in larger, educational/life/professional endeavors. I am telling you, there is a difference between a sibling support system and a “friend” support system, (and I also happen to be blessed with AMAZING friends). There really is something special about the bond of a close knit family. You know that whole “Hey! Only I can call my brother/sister an idiot” thing? Well, it is SOO accurate lol. Being the only girl in a house full of boys for so long, my brothers were extremely protective of me. There were a few occasions in our younger days where they had gotten into fistfights defending my honor as a girl and their sister, after a few immature boys made inappropriate comments. Even from a young age, the boys would get into little scrums defending each other. No one tolerated bullying, and not one of us was ever afraid to stand up for one another. But, the funny thing was, no one ever boasted or talked about it. I would find out that my brother punched a kid in the face for making an inappropriate comment about me from one of my parents or even by someone else. I (obviously) don’t encourage fighting, but when a kid feels so passionately about protecting one of their “family tribe” and they are not afraid to step up and make it known that certain comments/actions will not be tolerated, it’s hard to get mad at that. I’m sure the ITP “Buckhead Betty’s” (a little reference for you Atlanta folk) thought my parent’s were raising a bunch of Lost Boys from Neverland, but their actions stemmed from a deep, selfless love, and desire to protect their sibling, and that is something I will never forget. No one messes with family. Speaking of lasting memories, I vividly remember several occasions where people would make the most bizarre remarks to my mom after seeing her brood – “you must be a glutton for punishment”, “isn’t it unfortunate you can’t devote as much personal time to each of them” or my personal favorite, “wow, makes me glad I chose to have ONE perfect child” DOH! I can say this with 110% confidence, you as a parent, CANNOT teach your child the same lessons that having a sibling will. It’s impossible. You can teach them the same principles, but not to the depths that actually having a sibling will. You, of course, are entitled to your own choices, especially considering health needs, finances, etc. As parent’s we naturally want to give our kids the best of everything, so I beg you to consider the valuable character traits you are withholding from your child if your choice stems from selfish desires. Every family dynamic or situation is unique, I know that the issue of infertility is real and I beyond respect and admire those families who struggle with it. We have several adopted cousins on both sides of our families who are strong and unbelievably beautiful members of our family! I have experience in the sibling department, and wanted to share my point of view on the subject 🙂 So, to sum up my top reasons that siblings are the greatest gift ever:
- As I mentioned earlier, we sometimes fought (fight) like cats and dogs, but fighting with a sibling (someone who is not going anywhere) forces you to learn how to problem-solve and compromise from an early age. Siblings also give you someone to fight FOR. No one messes with family.
- Sharing – you learn how to share toys, TV, food, etc. – or at least become pretty crafty on how to get what you want, jk 😛
- Collaboration, leadership, respect – I loved being able to teach my siblings how to do things, I also loved being able to learn from the way they did things, or even better, come together and collaborate on something truly amazing! Our family projects were always pretty badass.
- Teamwork – nothing says teamwork like a LONG list of chores with a promise of ice cream at the end.
- Oh the memories, siblings give you someone to reminisce with. Plus, no one knows you like a sibling does. They know your upbringing, and why you view things the way that you do. They understand you from the ground up.
- Camaraderie. Even now as a parent, I can’t help but to think, does any one really ever understand why parents behave the way that they do?! Siblings give you that sense of camaraderie, especially when your parents are difficult, or at least give a much needed change in perspective. They can help make sense of why parents, or other siblings for that matter, do what they do.
- Friends can come and go, but siblings are forever. When things are going great you have someone to celebrate with (birthday parties, championship tournaments, graduations, promotions, weddings, babies being born), when things get tough you have someone to be with you – support, dry tears, advice, or just an ear to listen (broken hearts, health problems, financial hardship, death).
- Nieces and nephews. Siblings give you these little nuggets of God’s love.. and I happen to have the most ADORABLE nieces and nephews 🙂
Honestly, I could go on forever on why siblings are the greatest gift you can give your child, and probably even longer reminiscing the growing list of memories I have with my own siblings. No, baby G does not have a sibling on the way, however God willing, she will one day. I hope to give her the opportunity to establish the character traits that only a sibling can teach her. Until then, I will enjoy my energizer bunny of a 7 month old and attempt to slow her “growing up” down lol! xox – J