Do Your Kids Have a Love/Hate Relationship?

The Sibling Phenomenon

Do Your Kids Have a Love/Hate Relationship?

I recently had what I thought was a private conversation with my brother and SIL. They asked how I thought my kid who was starting hockey would do. My response was “Well, it should be interesting since he SUCKS at skating.” Now, not normally a big deal, right? That’s what I thought until his older sister admitted overhearing. She pulled me aside and expressed her disappointment at hearing me talk about her little brother like that. Ouch. I dug myself out of that hole with apologies and explanations around how the words were not meant for kids’ ears.

I certainly learned my lesson.

That incident reminded me how fiercely loyal siblings can be. While they give themselves permission to torment and taunt each other, if anyone else goes there (even a parent!)—watch out.

This is a phenomenon that is passed from generation to generation of siblings. As a child, my older brother made it his personal mission to annoy me. He teased me like it was a high-paying job. Yet, while in kindergarten, I had an operation on my feet that left me on crutches for a couple of weeks. I went to school in the afternoons, so the principal arranged for a big grade eight boy to meet me at the bus and carry me over the ice and snow into the building. The plan went ahead and when my little bus arrived at school, there was a big grade eight boy there to do his job. Also there was a scrawny Grade 5 kid (who, incidentally, didn’t end up breaking the 100 lb mark until high school). That scrawny kid was my big brother and no one was going to carry me into that school except him. He told the big kid to take off because he had it covered. And sure enough, my brother met me at my school bus every single day and huffed and puffed as he lugged me over the snow and safely into school.

Sibling relationships and dynamics are fascinating to me. Have you seen your children interact in strange and mysterious ways that only siblings would understand? Do they seem to live in this dichotomy of fiercely loyal and profoundly irritating to each other?