Relationship Issue: Why sibling relationships are important

Rachel (class of '24), senior Thomas, class of '17 alum Margaret and sophomore Alex enjoy a beautiful day in New York City this past summer. They've all maintained close bonds with each other.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Wolfson

Rachel (class of '24), senior Thomas, class of '17 alum Margaret and sophomore Alex enjoy a beautiful day in New York City this past summer. They've all maintained close bonds with each other.

Siblings: You either hate ‘em or you… hate ‘em. This is a common sentiment expressed by many people with siblings. Deep down, however, most siblings would probably admit that they do not hate each other, but rather share a special bond not seen in many other kinds of relationships.

Of course, sibling relationships are hardly smooth. Growing up with three siblings myself (an older sister, a younger brother and a younger sister), I can say that there is always a lot of fighting going on. Usually, the arguments tend to be silly and pointless. But perhaps that’s exactly why they take place. Getting along perfectly with your siblings is unnatural. I sometimes find myself giving my siblings a hard time over something miniscule, just for the sake of annoying them a little. And they do the same to me. Maybe it’s immature — okay it definitely is immature — but in the end, it brings us closer.

This closeness also stems from growing up in the same household, being raised by the same parents, (usually) with the same type of morals. I’ve always found it easier to fully express myself when I’m around my siblings. Teens are always scared about being accepted for who they are by their fellow peers—it’s just a part of adolescence. I too feel this, but almost never around my siblings. It’s different. It’s like hanging around your siblings gives you a license to act more weird, more crazy or more goofy than usual. There’s just a certain comfort level you have with your siblings that you don’t have around other people.

The nature of how your relationship with your siblings develops is also quite unique. Growing up, siblings are very accessible. After all, you’re spending 365 days a year with them—366 on leap years—over and over again. But adulthood changes the relationships with siblings quite a bit. For example, both of my mom’s sisters live in Chicago. Best case, we get to see them and their families maybe once a year. My mom spent every day of her life with her sisters growing up, and now she rarely sees them, though she maintains a close relationship with both. It’s kind of funny to think about, but it’s just often the way it is with siblings.

This is why it’s so important to build tight, close-knit bonds with siblings during childhood. My younger sister and I are four years apart, and early on, we weren’t very close. Maybe it was the age gap, or that she preferred playing barbies over sports, but we hardly interacted. Our parents would always tell us that we needed to get along more and actually form a bond. For a long time, I didn’t understand why they made such a big deal about it. I was already close to two of my siblings, wasn’t that good enough?

It wasn’t. Over time, my younger sister and I became closer. As it turns out, we’re actually very much alike, so much so, that my mom often refers to her as a mini, girl version of me.

Sibling relationships are important, more so than what we realize. Too often, you hear about grown-up, estranged siblings who haven’t spoken to each other in years over some silly disagreement.

I’ve used the phrase “I never want to talk to you again!” during arguments with my siblings tons of times—as have they—only to forget about it all two minutes later and proceed like nothing ever happened. It’s sad to think that things won’t always be that simple between us. Adult politics may come into play, there will be ups and downs, but through it all, I’m confident that with my siblings, I will have three friends for life.

So if you are (un?)lucky enough to have a sibling, cherish the times you have with them; build a bond that will last a lifetime.

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