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Sibling bonds: The loving relationship I hope my kids develop

11 Nov 2013 – 12:00 AM EST

When I was growing up, my parents forced me to play with my little sister. I am the oldest of five, but we’re so spread out that the most we ever had home at one time was four. After me, there’s my sister who’s four years younger. Growing up, the last thing I wanted was to be seen playing with her. Of course behind closed doors it was okay, but around my friends? No way.

Despite my own older sibling shenanigans, I want my children to have a good relationship with each other. I’ve thought about sibling bonds since before I had my daughter. I planned for my children to be a little closer in age than I was to my sister, hopeful that the smaller age gap would facilitate a stronger bond. Yet I’ve heard from many people that it doesn’t matter how close or how far apart the kids are, because every family is different.

I think part of the key is allowing myself to spend extra special time with each of my children…no matter how many I have. They will love each other, but they love their mother more–at least right now. I want my children to lean on each other as they grow up. When my husband and I are old and gone, they’ll still have each other to share old stories with.

Watching my daughter meet her baby brother for the first time melted my heart. She grinned from ear to ear and gave him sweet kisses. She hasn’t stopped since. She rubs his ear lobes and snuggles against his cheeks. Now he even chimes in with giggles and smiles of his own when his big sister is around.

During bath time they play together, and she holds his hand so he won’t “go down the drain.” I would be delighted if she were always to be that watchful and protective of her brother; however, I doubt it will always be the case.

I don’t plan to force them to hang out together; sibling bonds aren’t something you can coerce. They’ll form their own relationship. But I hope it’s something they want to do, because as much as I love them, I hope they love each other.

Going from one child to two hasn’t always been easy, but seeing double the offspring is worth all the hard times.