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.
A year or so after my eldest was born I was ready to add to our family and talked to my husband about how he felt about it. He was really reluctant. We talked about it a lot over the next year and I established that he was worried about me, I was unwell at the end of my first pregnancy which led to a difficult birth and a serious flare up of my Crohn's soon after, he didn't want me to have to go through all that again. Hindsight is of course a marvellous thing and I reassured him that I knew what had caused the cholestatis and I could prevent it returning again (which I did!). But he still was not convinced that he wanted to have more than one child. I couldn't help thinking there was something else which I hadn't put my finger on. Then I worked it out, he has a really poor relationship with his sibling they don't get on and do not choose to be in each others company if it were not for the next generation we would not seem him at all. He didn't want to inflict this on our first born whereas I was adamant I did not want an only child. It made me realise that our own experiences as children with our siblings was effecting our decision making about our family.
I have two younger brothers and whilst there have been periods that we have drifted apart in the main we are a close knit family and I can't imagine life without them. Growing up there were of course arguments but we played and rubbed along together, I have my memories, stories that I have been told by my mother and photos as a record. We built dens, rode bikes, played shops, board games, threw snowballs, made up games and generally enjoyed each others company. Life for me when growing up was about sharing my home with my siblings, I knew children who had no siblings but I found them difficult company and did not seek them out as friends they were uncompromising and selfish in the eyes of my child self.
So we talked some more. About what siblings meant to us both, about whether we wanted to be a family with an only child. I sailed through my second pregnancy and we now have two children. There is four and half years between them and they get on with each other, they play together, they argue and disagree all important in the relationship with a sibling. If they got on all the time I would be worried as I would know that one of them was compromising which is not the makings of a healthy relationship.
Over the last year both mine and my husbands father have been seriously unwell. If there was ever a time that families need to come together and support each other it is at a time like this. The difference in how our two families have dealt with this is really marked. Thankfully my father has returned to full health but I was really grateful to have two siblings, I spoke to at least one of them every week. It helped me to come to terms with what was happening knowing that I could pick up the phone and talk to them. This has not been the case for my husband, the rift that exists between him and his sibling has gotten wider and the prognosis for my father in law is not good. This has made me hugely aware that I as a parent need to provide the right environment for the relationship between my children to flourish. I want them to be in my position when they are older, to support each other when they need it, not to be like their father.
Visit 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:
- 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 Ocean — Abby 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.
- Support — sustainablemum 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 home — Lisa 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 Daughter — Playing 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?