Formerly the PV Mirror - a weekly; Meet Vallarta Mirror - the daily

Can Siblings Actually Get Along? (Part One)

Sometimes I like to reflect a bit on some of the goals I had as a young mother. I shake my head and smile a little about how I considered these goals realistic and completely attainable. And I feel a great deal of compassion and a little bit of judgment
toward my naive, over-confident self.

Here are a few ideas I had about parenting that now, looking back, are hilarious:

  • I would be firm, patient and clear in my expectations for behavior, sleep and eating habits and my children would respond quickly and consistently.
  • I would juggle a full-time job and parenting with joy and ease every single day.
  • Having two children twenty months apart would result in two inseparable playmates who would keep each other entertained.
  • No screens. Ever in all their lives.

I know, right? I should have been in stand-up comedy. Spoiler alert: Every one of these ideas was dispelled in some form or another. Sure, I worked hard at being firm, patient and
clear as a parent, but the fact is, children are their own unique beings and will respond in ways that we don’t expect, ever. Also, living the parent life is so 24/7 that fatigue and humanity can interfere with some of the necessary patience sometimes (a lot of times).

My biggest misconception, I think, was about having children close together. I was razor-focused about having siblings who wanted to spend time together and enjoyed each other’s
company. But, even twenty short months apart, they were in very different developmental stages for most of their childhood and didn’t always entertain each other.

The truth is, raising siblings is hard, intentional work. We had some tricky stages where they certainly didn’t get along very well. My husband and I felt like referees and almost ordered protective equipment to go with the job. At times, they argued about every inconsequential thing you can think about. The “he’s TOUCHING me, tell him not to TOUCH me” jokes? Those are absolutely real. I found myself saying “NO ONE TOUCH ANYONE” and wondering how I came to spend precious minutes of my life involved in such issues.

But the truth is it’s also beautiful, rewarding work. We’ve had some wonderfully affirming moments, like when I found my two-year-old “reading” stories to her exhausted four-year old brother in his bed after his preschool day. Like when they communicated in their own, indecipherable language when they were preschoolers so that none of us could interfere in their conversations. Or when they shared a teenage obsession with anime and manga and hung out at comic-cons together, dressed in cosplay.

If you are parents of young siblings needing a ray of hope, let me tell you how things are now that my son lives in another country as he transitions to adult life: they miss each other. They send each other weird messages that I don’t understand. They post photos of their childhood selves, arm-in-arm, absolutely negating all the ridiculous childhood arguments about breathing each other’s air that sent their father and I into despair.

Is it a perfect relationship? Well, no, because perfect relationships are as real as unicorns. But is it rewarding? Absolutely. It’s rewarding to them, and it is rewarding to their father and me. Wondering how to foster sibling relationships from the get-go that will stick for life? Stay tuned! Next week I’ll be back with some tips that might help.

Author

  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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