We Don’t Take it Lightly…

Erica E. Goode, in “The Secret World of Siblings, points out that “sibling relationships . . . outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship.  They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust.”

One of the scariest parts of introducing a second baby into our family was the thought that Katie would, even for a single moment, feel as though she wasn’t enough for us.  We worried that she would think that we somehow loved her less and that the love that we have for her would have to be shared with her sibling.

Having another baby was something that we were certain that we wanted to do, we were just cognizant of the fact that doing so could turn her little world upside down.  Our family dynamic was working for us and the thought of disrupting that was more than a bit scary.

In her article on siblings, Goode goes on to say that “[s]ibling relationships shape how people feel about themselves, how they understand and feel about others, even how much they achieve.”

Yes, sibling relationships are huge.  This relationship that they are building now is, to some degree, our responsibility. as their parents, to help nurture and we have always seen it as our role to help build the strong foundation of their relationship that will hopefully outlast us.

Thus far, we have been incredibly fortunate in that Katie truly adores Matthew.  He was the first person that she said “I love you” to without prompting.  She is gentle and kind to him.  She makes him laugh and smile and he just adores her.

For the first few months after we brought him home from the hospital, I was afraid that we had rocked the boat so much that we’d never again find our equilibrium.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  She loves him like she doesn’t remember life without him.  She has honestly never shown even an ounce of resentment.

While we were pregnant with Matthew, we talked a lot about how we would try to help Katie with the transition from only child (read: adored, complete focus of our universe) to one of two children.

Here’s what I think we did right:

1) We didn’t oversell Matthew.  We never told Katie that she would now have a playmate.  Realistically, it will be a long while before they can truly play together.  Instead, we told her that she would now have another person to love, who would love her in return.

2) We don’t ask her to entertain Matthew.  He isn’t her responsibility.

3) We don’t ask her to fetch things to help in his care, i.e. diapers, wipes, etc.  He is our child, not hers.

4) We maintained routines that were in place before Matthew was born.  We’ve always tucked her in together and we still do.  Craig has always gotten her up in the morning.  He continues to do this, as it provides her with predictability and reinforces just how important she is.

5) We each spend time with her one-on-one every single day.

6) We don’t compare them to one another.  While I’ve been incredibly tempted to say, “Look what a great eater Matthew is!” while she’s playing with her food, I resist the urge.

I believe that it is because we did things this way that Katie comforts Matthew when he cries, entertains him when he is bored, and kisses him for absolutely no reason at all.  These are things that she chooses to do and her love for him grows deeper every day.

I don’t profess to know all of the answers and we will undoubtedly have our ups and downs, but I like where this is going and it makes me feel good to know that we’ve laid some pretty solid groundwork for a healthy relationship between the two of them.

Having said all this, I am a realist and I fully expect that sibling rivalry will rear its head at some point.  They will bicker, argue, probably even pull hair and smack one another one day.  I am just hoping that if we continue to make every effort to help them to build a healthy relationship, they’ll enter adulthood as friends and not just siblings.

I would love to hear any additional ideas to help us minimize sibling rivalry.  If your kids get along well or if you have a healthy relationship with your own siblings, please leave your tips in the comments!  Our family will thank you for it.


  1. Krista notmommyoftheyear.com

    This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. Glad to see that someone is writing about ways to make a transition to not being any only child easier for the oldest child. I'm book marking it. ;-)

  2. andrea (mamachaplin)

    this is not the first time i have felt like i "connected" with one of your posts :) have felt similar feelings & hesitations A LOT!

  3. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    When we were pregnant, we found ourselves sometimes overwhelmed with what we would be taking away from Katie, instead of what we were actually giving her. It isn't easy rocking the boat, but it was so worth it!

  4. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Yay! I love making connections!
    I think that having the hesitations makes you realistic and aware. That is so much better than flying blind and having to fix things later.

  5. SkyWaitress skywaitress.com

    It sounds like you have put a lot of thought into their relationship. That's good. I love my siblings to death and can't imagine my life without them. I hope your kids feel the same way. Family is so important.

  6. first of all, you sound like an awesome mom. will you adopt me? (except we'd be like the oddest mother/daughter EVER). ;D

    secondly, I was (am) an only child. and I *begged* my parents for a sibling (they can't have kids and I'm adopted) by the time I was Katie's age. I would love to have more than one child one day (if I ever get to have kids). I think the sibling relationship is something powerful and one I never participated in and I'd want my kids to have that chance.

  7. Child A didn't get "siblings' until he was 8 (or really 9, before we all moved in together and tried to learn how to be a family.) So the dynamic is completely different. But our kids love each other very much, and that still amazes and pleases me beyond measure.

    That being said, my brother and I often tried to kill each other.

    Not so much now. I'm not stupid. He's way bigger than me.

  8. ksluiter

    I struggle with this question too. we don't have a #2 yet, obviously, but thinking about adding one seems overwhelming sometimes just because I think about it in terms of Eddie.

    I want to have more children though. I can't imagine my life without my brothers. They are both younger than me and I don't think we started getting along until well into (or after) high school. But I knew if the chips were down, they would be there for me.

  9. Momlissa momlissa.com

    We went from having 1 child – center of the universe – to having 3 and it was definitely rough. I knew I wanted to give her a sibling or two, just didn't necessarily want it to happen that quickly. I questioned what I had done and felt terrible guilt. The first few months were incredibly dark for me when my twins were born. That said, I came out of it and adjusted to the new normal. My kids bicker quite a bit and it drives me nuts, but they also stick together and show great pride for each other. They are tight and I feel so happy that they have each other. Giving my daughter the one on one time was critical for her and me to get through those rough times. We still do it and have our special time. I think it helps.

  10. MamaOnDaGo mamaondago.blogspot.com/

    Someone told me the greatest gift you can give your child is a sibling.
    There is a 6 year gap between my sister & I. We didn’t get along until she reached high school. We had nothing in common & we couldn’t relate. Now, I can’t imagine my life without her.
    My own children, who are 3 & 1, have a wonderful relationship. The 1 year old’s eyes light up with joy when he sees his sis in the morning. The 3 year old looks for her little bro when she doesn’t see him for awhile. I love how they interact & play together.
    With that said, they fight over toys & over me. I try to be fair as possible. My husband & I hope we are building a strong relationship between them & that they know we love them both very much.

  11. I have a great realtionship with my sisters and I remember us fighting a lot. We have a lot of bickering between the 2 girls but mostly they play together. Toys are always the source of the trouble. Grrr, toys!

  12. I think you are doing an awesome job making sure each child feels loved and not like they have to compete with their siblings! Great job!!

    Following you from Bloggy Moms!
    Would so love a follow and a visit as well! :)

    Mommy Only Has Two Hands!

  13. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I hope that they love each other so much that they can't imagine life without one another.
    Or, that they don't kill each other during high school. ;)

  14. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    I would SO adopt you! You're already a lovely young woman, so I wouldn't have to do any of the hard work. :)

    When you get married and have children (because you will), you'll have the opportunity to try to give your children what you didn't have. Just you wait. :)

  15. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    My brother and I are seven years apart, which I think has been a huge hurdle for us. We were really never at the same point in life and I moved away from home when he was only 14. I love him dearly, but we are just in such different places.

    And how amazing it is that you get to sit back and watch your children's relationships grow and deepen.

  16. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Even though we worried, it is so clear to us now that having Matthew was truly the best thing that we could have ever done for Katie. I love seeing them together.
    Thank you for the sweet compliment. :)

  17. Nichole inthesesmallmoments.com

    Talk about a wild transition!
    Those first months were tough for us too. I just couldn't believe how much my heart was being ripped in half.
    The "new normal" is a perfect way to describe what we've found too.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  18. kris prettyalltrue.com

    I hesitated to comment on this post, as you sound so very much like me when Kallan was born.

    So vulnerable, and yet so certain that you can make things happen the way you want them to happen.

    I wish you luck.

    My two?

    Love each other very much.

    But also?

    They fight.

    A lot.

  19. susie newdaynewlesson.com

    I have 5 and the only thing that I can say is that the more you worry about things, the more there is to worry. Sometimes we tend to overthink things instead of just going with the flow. Things we worry about the kids pick up on. That is not to say to go into things blind, you can plan but don't put too much emphasis on the things that can go wrong. Let things progress and believe it will work out for the best.

    I have also found (also with my kids and also with me and my siblings) that sometimes the relationship goes in ebbs and flows. There are ups and downs and periods of fighting and periods of closeness. It's normal and it ends up working out just fine.

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