Tips for an Established Family or Step Family
Siblings are one of the greatest gifts that life can bring our children. The relationship between siblings is one of the deepest relationships they will ever experience. Through fighting and teamwork, they will build a complex and amazing bond that lasts longer than most other relationships throughout their life. What can you as a parent do to encourage a strong sibling bond between your children?
Encourage Time Spent Together: It is difficult to build a strong bond between two individuals who rarely see each other. Instead of getting your children involved in too many sports and hobbies, keep the majority of their extra time free to spend together. You don’t need a lot of money, or any at all, to have fun and build strong relationships with each other.
Help Them Find Common Bonds: It can be challenging for siblings to find things in common in their younger years, when a few years seems like a huge age gap. You can be the bridge between them, helping them to find things to enjoy together. Get them involved in the same hobbies, point out their similarities, and they will eventually begin to see these common bonds without even intentionally being made aware of them.
Don’t Compare Them to Each Other: Comparing our children is a destructive practice that always ends badly. It is one thing to point out similarities, but it is entirely another to use your children’s strengths and weaknesses to manipulate and shame them.
Comparisons only lead to jealousy and long-term family problems, so avoid them at all costs.
Squash Sibling Rivalry: While you are avoiding making comparisons, take it a step further and squash sibling rivalry as soon as it begins. It is natural for siblings to compare themselves to each other, and it is something almost everyone does. It is important for you as a parent to put things back into perspective for them and redirect their focus to what they have in common versus what they have to argue about.
Spend Lots of Time Together as a Family: In addition to having your children spend lots of time together, be sure to spend lots of time together as an entire family. You, your partner, and each one of your children each have something unique to bring to the table. When you spend time together as a group, each person will enhance the relationships even between other family members.
Working and having fun as a group builds both a positive group dynamic, as well as strong interpersonal bonds between each and every individual involved.
Speak Highly of Every Child to Each Other: Your children will become who you are, and this includes how you speak about others. If you are talking negatively about a child behind their back and in front of their siblings, their siblings will begin to think badly about them. Don’t make this mistake. Be purposeful in speaking positive, life-giving words about each family member in front of the others.
Your hope is that your children will be lifelong friends. There are plenty of things you can personally do to encourage and promote this thought. Be an advocate for strong sibling relationships, because this imparts to your children a gift that will last them a lifetime.
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