The Joy of Brothers and Sisters

Thursday, August 27, 2015
posted by elizabeth @ 9:01 AM

I am an only child. Well, I do have a wonderful half-brother whom I love and cherish. But we both grew up as only children. He was married by the time I was born. I always wished he was close to my age. But that wasn’t meant to be. We were basically only children.
There are many benefits to being an only child. I loved our close family – mom, daddy, and me. I had numerous chances to attend “grown up” events and opportunities to travel. I had an entire clothing allowance to myself, and I never had to share a bathroom until college.
But growing up I wanted a sibling. And, as an adult, I undoubtedly see the power of family.
So, what did I do? I went on to have four children. Granted, our number three baby turned into the greatest blessing of twins, which is how we arrived at four. But, knowing what I know now, I would have asked God for four children from the get go.
Giving my children siblings was important to me. The memories we make together as a family, whether on vacation, at holidays, or attending one another’s sporting events, are what I would like to fill my children’s lives with. So, when I read Alina Dizik’s article in the Wall Street Journal, “Family Vacation, One Child at a Time,” I was saddened to think of the opportunities and memories missed.
I do understand the premise that a one-on-one parent-child trip can create memories, provide a time to impart knowledge, and spend some good quality time together, but I believe that when our family is together, we get all of that and more.
We do have one-on-one time in our house, just not a full vacation. Although my two daughters and I have taken a “girls’ night” get away together, we are not traveling on extensive vacations without our guys.
Giving your child a sibling is such a tremendous gift. My children and I laugh at my often repeated mantra of “You are so lucky to have a sister/brother. I know because I never had one growing up.” They are a gift to each other. Sisters. Brothers. All of them. As I type this, I hear my kids in the other room playing together. Giggles. Teamwork. Suggestions of “Now try this.” I delight in the fact that they have each other to share the Ride of Life. While toys, rooms, and space are things they are learning to share, they are also participating in experiences, inside jokes, and memories. Those memories include visiting new places, partaking in new cultures, and exploring the World together.
I would never want to pick one of my children to create memories, intentionally leaving the others out, even if the motivation was benevolent and educational. I want their memory banks to always include each other.
Siblings provide so many benefits to each other. Children with brothers and sisters are more sympathetic and altruistic throughout adulthood. Their mental health is boosted in a way that parents alone cannot do. Siblings keep each other from feeling lonely – no matter the distance, no matter the age (Abigail Wise, Real Simple).
Of course, only children have benefits as well. Only children are leaders, have higher IQ scores, and we don’t take relationships for granted. I think that last one is key. That is why I enjoy watching my children interact, support each other, complement each other, teach other, and even fight with each other. Because I never had that. My husband, who is the second of four children, does not look at our foursome the same as I do. While I watch their sibling communication with awe and appreciation, he sees what he thinks all families look like. He just assumes that is what childhood is like, and fortunately for him, it was and it is.
Just as there is not one way to parent, there is not a formula for the number of children a family should have. I am so blessed to have my four, or more precisely, they are very blessed to have each other. I want to encourage their love for each other and their shared experiences in any way I can. I will not be heading on a European vacation with one child at a time. Big experiences, and small ones, are for our whole family. We are a team.

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