Subodh Sharma

Siblings

A brother or a sister is a true blessing to each other. It is a relation filled with fun & frolic, excitement, fights, love & hate, understanding, selflessness, selfishness, warmth, openness, learning and most of all, dependency for life on each other.

Siblings are a great support available throughout life!

Siblings are a great support available throughout life!

Relation

Mostly it is a biological relation. Siblings have same parents whereas half-siblings have one parent in common. In few cases siblings are step-siblings where the parents are married to each other and it is not a biological relation. There are many more non-biological sibling relationships explained in the complexity of today’s world as adopted siblings, milk siblings etc.

The relation is formed as soon as the pregnancy of the mother is explained to the older child. Well, in the cases of twins or more, the sibling bond is actually formed inside the tummy! Brothers and sisters most commonly share the parents, space, more and all about life as they grow. Their childhood relationship normally starts with copying each other and slowly, doing things together, sharing, not sharing, fighting, hugging, liking and disliking same toys and food, complaining, eating together, missing each other, playing together and sleeping in close proximity (as) twin beds. Up-to they are 7-8 years old, this is pretty much daily routine. Being part of all these activities, they are identifying their own personality as well as they are forming a permanent bond with each other. These are the times when parents can guide the children in a proper way and explain the lifetime importance of the bond that siblings are forming. In these times parents can teach them to love each other and discard jealousy / rivalry from their behavior. In order to clarify that all the kids are equally important to them and to foster a better sibling bond, parents should encourage siblings to do activities like games, studies, recreation, etc. together.

From nearly 8 to 16 years of age, this relation take a different turn. Age gap among siblings starts to play a role. Similar age siblings are closer to each other and share more details of what they feel is secret to older or younger siblings. Sharing becomes trust, complaining becomes understanding, fighting becomes competition (who’s first), close proximity sleeping is not there anymore, different study habits (morning, evening or night) are formed, different entertainment priorities are established and so on. Introvert or extrovert behaviors are clear enough to recognize. If the sibling-bond has developed right, they seek each-other’s help first. They spend time together as friends and usually do not hide their compassion and crush from each-other. The relation is absolutely showing the success signs and parents should cherish it further.

In-between 16-23, sibling affections towards each-other go in a high-low cycle. Primarily we believe it is because of the fact that parents are giving them more opportunity to conduct their activities without direct supervision. While doing things together, siblings come across situations where they agree and disagree with each-other’s thoughts and actions. This makes and breaks their affections towards each-other and is quite a cyclic pattern. In these situations, they shape each other’s specific characteristics such as debating, understanding, listening, arguing, recourse, etc. Slowly they realize this cycle and start negotiating the center-point with each other. (Their negotiating skills also improve during this process).This is how their bond with each-other further strengthens and they start feeling that together they can do more!

After 23, the understanding is clear that it is the relation for life. They understand the value of togetherness. Other family members such as parents, nephew nieces etc. play a very strong bond in-between. In this age siblings realize that they are the best friends as they know each other more than anyone else and are ready to help each other in any and all matters. Unless something significantly disturbing happens in the forthcoming years of life, siblings who have a strong bonding and have crossed their twenties, usually stay bonded for life.

It is a successful relation that reaped over the time utilizing parent’s lessons on love and togetherness.

Role

Siblings are pillars of any family. A lot of family dynamics goes around them. All brothers and sisters essentially influence the life of their siblings. The influences may come with a different name, in different terms and at different times. In a normal-day life, siblings play important roles to each other such as listener, secret keeper, sharer, role model, temporary care-taker, playmate, friend and else. They are also guide, mentor and teacher if there is more than 5 years of age gap between the siblings. In the simplest term, older siblings are usually role-models for younger ones. There are many researches that propose that younger sibling’s behaviors are very similar to the behavior of the older sibling in different social, personal and emotional situations. They behave in the same way as their older sibling once did.

Siblings together are a good family help and resource too. As they grow older they play an important role of keeping parents up-to-date with the current social norms and tendencies. Older siblings also play support roles and help working parents in family chores.

Most importantly, a family is the building block of a community and siblings are the pillars of a family. Sibling’s role towards each-other, towards the family and towards the community is second to none when we realize that a good community can become a great one simply by acknowledging and promoting the role of the siblings towards each-other. This way, we spread the good vibes… Much faster!

Responsibility

Until the young age, it is the older siblings that surely have more responsibility towards the younger siblings though in most cases, it is never a formal disclosure or assignment for a prolonged period of time. Usually older siblings are given responsibility for short time brackets. Very simple responsibilities from the young age are, make sure he/she finishes the food, nothing in the mouth, socks away please, check while he/she is asleep, repeat the words from school, brush your teeth, prepare for morning, stay with him/her in the park, ride-along, don’t jump, watch what he/she is doing etc. As they grow older, there is a shift in the responsibility type. Siblings start taking responsibilities towards each other and towards the family together. Help in homework, projects, lawn-mowing, dusting and vacuum, room management, friend circle influence, approval or disapproval of a particular companionship, social trends and precautions, watch time / back for each other, even help in personal item’s selection and so on.

I and VJ see these activities as very normal in any sibling’s life. What we see as more important out of all such and more activities is what do they learn while doing those activities and how their parents’ guide them surrounding those activities? Do they learn cohesiveness or do they complete the chores unwillingly? Do they like spending time with each other? Do they consider each-other as their closest allies? Do they speak enough about a subject or their agreement / denial is very quiet? How do they object when they object? What do they object to? How do they come to an agreement later? How long do they take to come to an agreement? Do they have a win-win attitude? Do they look happy after? There can be many more similar questions depending upon a particular family dynamics.

We deem above questions as more important than the activity itself because these questions decide if it is the time for the parents to intervene. We are not only teaching the kids to be responsible but also teaching them to be allies for life. We are strengthening their sibling love bond. We are also suggesting them the importance of being together in life, encapsulating family as a basic functioning unit in a society. This is where parent’s intervention will make them better citizens and best siblings!

Rights

Sibling dynamics play a critically important role in shaping each-other’s life in early ages and then helping to fine-tune it throughout, not only their own life but the community as a whole.

Siblings should have legal and moral right that unless adults and by choice, or by law, they should never be separated. It is like taking away breath from the body. Here is an excerpt from Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/siblingissues/index.cfm “All sense of family, of comfort, of familiarity and of belonging was gone and there was no one except strangers.”

We feel sad and only sad at this situation. This feeling, just the feeling makes me cry. How do we face a child whose brother or sister is separated from him/her for social reasons? What do we teach the child? What do we expect from the child? We made the child deserted within his/her heart and this hole will never be filled!

All the siblings have a right to be together and it helps them to propel and channelize each other’s life on a meaningful track. They have right to play and grow together. They have right to share, fight and love each other. They have right to bond which is lost if they are separated. Here is another excerpt from the same as above.

Moreover, a Texas study of adult foster alumni found that those who had greater access to their siblings and reported stronger relationships with them during childhood had higher levels of social support, self-esteem, and income, as well as stronger adult sibling relationships than those who did not (McCormick, 2009).”

I and VJ agonizingly fail to answer this question that why do the children have to be placed in the foster homes at first place? Except natural disasters resulting in death or disability of some kind, kids should never see a foster home. Unless a child’s life is guaranteed to change for better, a child should never see a foster home. We don’t claim logic, but on an utter emotional feeling, half of the children over the globe can be removed immediately from the foster homes and can be reunited with their parents. They are there just because of some foolish mistake by them or by their parents! The lesson is learnt. Reunite them and remove the darkness from the heart of the future generation. And it’s not that we don’t understand the depth of the issue but because of the depth of the issue, small parental or children’s mistake should be forgiven with the assurance that the lesson is learnt. The family will be much happier in the longer run and as a result much less children will go to the foster homes!

Results

Results of having sibling(s) and maintaining this relation are really exciting. The first and foremost is that siblings learn a lot of good skills together. In any kind of childhood bullying, siblings are always the very first line of defense for each other. Having siblings results in availability of someone who understands the exact same language, expressions, short-cuts, terms, slang and jargon, jokes and more. It helps in overall development of each sibling. Having siblings results in the right development of the critical social, emotional and physiological skills as helping others, respecting elders, waiting for turn, seeking permission, explaining something uncommon, complaining, refusing, negotiating and more.

In some unnatural cases, having siblings is beneficial for the parents and overall family as well. In case of a parent’s health issue that can arise sooner or later in life, siblings can provide much needed support to young ones. In case of sudden demise of a child, the offspring still can carry on the family name. If parents have created some harsh, unmanageable circumstances for children, siblings can be very good support for each other.

If the sibling relation is not maintained, all affected children lose a lot. They miss the only support that they have available throughout life. They miss the opportunities of various dimensions ranging from playing together to enjoying the rhythm of the life. They do not stand together and challenge difficult situations of their life. They miss the opportunity to be a better person at many possibilities simply because there was no in-house competition.

Rewards

I believe the biggest social benefit of having siblings is that there is a moral and ethical support available throughout life in addition to the other possible supports that a person may need in a due course.

When siblings interact on a regular basis, their confidence, social success and recognition, influencing capabilities, leading qualities, public speaking attributes and other similar traits develop to a higher level as compared to a single child.

Logically speaking, this seems the under-carpet reason that lately China, the communist country that illegalized the 2nd child since 1970’s has reformed and reinstated their one child policy. Starting Jan 1 2016, they have allowed the couples to have a second child. For over 40 years, the children in China had no brother or a sister! What a social black-hole it was!

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