Many of us are familiar with this classic song from The Hollies titled “He ain’t heavy, he is my brother”. The song is about sibling love.
One of the greatest things you can do as parents is to give your child a sibling if possible. This is not an easy gift. Nor is it a gift that comes without sacrifices. After giving birth to Gor Gor, our first child, it took us five long hard years to have a second one. It was never easy for us to give Gor Gor a younger sibling. However, it is a gift that we would like to give Gor Gor that we feel will outlive us and we hope that the siblings bond between the two of them will provide love and support for a lifetime!
While many siblings bond immediately and forever, some may need a bit of help learning to get along. There are a few things parents can do to help create a lifelong bond amongst their children.
First and foremost, you must accept each child is different. Just like our two boys, Gor Gor and Di Di. We cannot tell Di Di that “When Gor Gor was your age, he could do this and that, you should be like him”. Even though the two brothers may share many common similarities, there are also many differences between them. Hence, avoid at all costs, comparing your children to one another. Instead, celebrate what each child does well and encourage his/her brothers and or sisters to encourage him/her as well. You might have one child that excels academically while your next child is a born athlete. Celebrate their talents! Encourage them to help and support each other in the areas they can.
Buy toys that encourage your children to work and play together. Even if there is a big age difference, a toy like Lego set can appeal to both. The older child can help the younger child build the Lego set. If we plan to buy toys for our boys (e.g. to celebrate Christmas or their birthdays), we will bring them out together and ask them to choose together what toys each of them would like. By choosing together, they learn to know each other’s interest and learn to play together even though each of them may have their own toy. As Gor Gor understands the concept of money better than Di Di, we would set the budget for both of them and Gor Gor would guide Di Di like “You can choose this and that toys, but not those toys at the other shelves because those are outside our given budgets”. The process of choosing toys bond them together, just like the process of playing after that.
We also bring the boys to the public library together. As member of the National Library and also Passion Card holders, we can borrow up to 10 books per visit for them. Each boy can select 5 books to borrow and Gor Gor will help Di Di choose the right books for his age. When we go back, Gor Gor would sometimes read to Di Di too.
It is normal for siblings to quarrel. Our boys quarrel too, sometimes over small matter like wanting to watch their favorite TV programs. As parents, we will normally let them resolve their quarrel themselves, like Gor Gor will come out with the suggestion:”I will let you watch your program for the first 30 minutes and then afterwards it’s my turn. We take turns okay” and Di Di will agree to that. Yes, there will be always be squabbles and out-right fights every now and then. But siblings who share living spaces, toys and activities will form bonds that will carry them through a lifetime, no matter how different they are.