Sibling Bond…When Does It Happen?

My brother and I are as close as adults as two siblings who live on opposite sides of the country can be. We don’t speak often, but when we do it always revives my spirit because A) He’s funny as hell and always makes me laugh and B) He just gets me. I feel like I can just barely explain something that’s bugging me and he’ll understand exactly where I’m coming from. A lot of it relates to use suffering the same great loss and having the same hole in our hearts from that. But a lot of it is just having the same upbringing and baseline experiences to relate to. I don’t know many other people who grew up without central heat or a/c. Therefore, not everyone has the same memories of fighting over who gets the next turn on the coil heater after playing in the snow.

(It didn’t matter who got the next turn because you could only last a few minutes as those things were HOT AS SHIT.)

My two kids are the EXACT age difference/gender as my brother and I. Nikki is older by 2.5 years. Same as us. The only difference is that my brother and I’s birthdays fell so I was a Senior when he was a Freshmen, whereas Nikki and Wes will be a grade closer in school. But still…SAME AGE…OLDER SISTER…YOUNGER BROTHER…I was really banking on an awesome sibling relationship.

And y’all? I’m not sure it’s going to happen.

Granted – I don’t remember a lot of the early years with my brother, but I swear we weren’t as evil to each other as my kids are. I did NOT like seeing my brother getting in trouble but I think my kids THRIVE on it. I helped my brother avoid getting in trouble when I could whereas my kids tattle at the smallest infraction.

I’m hoping this is just them…NOW…and that them…LATER will be much more loving. My brother and I also had some unique situations growing up that made us have to be friends: Like going to daycares after school as the only weirdo kids from the Catholic school. Or going to spend every other weekend at Moms. You just learn to enjoy each other’s company when that’s all you have. My kids often have plenty of choices of kids to play with so they don’t have to like each other if they don’t want. And some days? THE HATE EACH OTHER. I mean…I’ve seen them lose their temper with each other in EPIC ways lately, and I hate that because I want them to be able to lean on each other some day.

So! Reassure me! Tell me you used to beat the shit out of your sibling as a child, but that you’re totally BFFs now! Or tell me how much you hated them when you were younger but love them now! (Do not tell me the other side of the story, that’s the side I’m worried about. Let’s pretend everyone grows up to love their sibling more than they did as a child, okay?)

20 thoughts on “Sibling Bond…When Does It Happen?”

  1. REASSURANCE IN SPADES! I am the oldest of four, and the only girl. My brothers are 14 months, 4 years, and 5 years and 359 days younger than me. (I truly resented that “the baby” had a birthday the week before mine, thus detracting attention from ME). We fought all the time. We fought over food. We fought over the pets. Bus seats. We tattled. We hair-pulled and hit and kicked and aimed slingshots at each other. I don’t know how my parents survived, or how we did for that matter; we were awful. Two of my brothers got suspended from school for fighting EACH OTHER. And now that we are in our 20s and 30s, we are all very close. Some pairings are closer than others, but we all get along well and I do think it comes from having some of those experiences and shared upbringing. Now we joke and go camping together and call at random times just to say hello. For me, that shift started occuring when I moved out to go to college. For the younger ones, I think they got closer when my parents split up, as I was already out of the house. Don’t get me wrong, we still argue and know how to push each others’ buttons, but I would not trade my brothers for ANYTHING. And bonus, I love all of my sisters-in-law! We’re all so different and yet, that bond is there and very strong. So, all of that to say, it gets better.

  2. I painted “brat baby Julie” on a wall of my room (took three coats to paint over it!) and now we’re best of friends. I can remember running through the house heading to the bathroom (the only room with a lock on the door) because one of my brothers was chasing me. All five of us are quite close now (or at the very least very respectful of one another). Our parents died quite young (56 and 61), so being “orphaned” may have forced the issue a bit. My two boys (23 and 21) aren’t super close, but they get along well. I used to tell them “you’re going to have to get along so you can take care of us when we’re old”!

  3. I’m the oldest, and have brothers who came as a package deal (twins!) when I was approaching 4 years old.

    None of us got along with each other when we were younger – not even my brothers (they never had that ‘twin thing’). They would only unite against a common enemy (me!).

    We all get along really well now. I always say we just needed to be old enough to drink together.

  4. My brother and I were 4 years apart and did NOT get along as kids. That was partly because I was quite resentful of the fact that I no longer had my parents’ undivided attention, partly because I’d wanted a sister instead, and partly because we frankly just didn’t have anything in common. Once I hit high school it got better, and once I moved out for college we actually became friends. I’d actually call home and ask to speak to him just because I wanted to.

    I think there’s hope for your kids. And if it helps, if hoped my 2-years-apart girls would be the very best of friends, and right now they seem to just barely tolerate each other’s existence. That could change as they get older (they’re 3.5 and 16 months), but I have a feeling based on their temperaments that I’m in the same boat you are. Solidarity, my friend. Fist bump.

  5. I fought on and off with some of my siblings until we were all in our teens. I feel like my mother just wanted to throw her hands up in the air and leave us to it.

    There was a pretty big age difference between my oldest sister and me (the youngest), so we never really fought.

    My next oldest sister and I never got along until she moved out of the house. Then, all of a sudden, we were really great friends.

    The last sister and I were closest in age so we got along pretty well, but fought a lot over petty stuff. Once she moved out, we realized that we missed each other quite a bit and never really fought again.

    I wouldn’t be concerned about their bonds while they are still young. Siblings fight, especially young siblings. It is true in almost every family I know. Once they become more aware of themselves, I feel like they will realize they had an awesome sibling all along.

    Give it a few years. I have an amazing relationship with the sister I used to wish was hit by the school bus. It will happen.

  6. My sister and I are six years apart. We never hated each other, probably because of the age difference, but we definitely fought and weren’t always close. As adults, we are hands down each other’s primary support system.

    For us, it was the message we got from Mom – “your sister is the only person you get for life” and “family is always a priority.” – and the example of her close relationship with her sisters. We also always had family dinner, attended each others events, etc. But, my sister was 11 when I left for college. Clearly it wasn’t just about proximity.

  7. Kim do you know the book Siblings Without Rivalry? That’s a parenting book that is bandied about a lot and is on my list of books to read if we ever have a second kid…

  8. I’m 2.5 years older than my brother, and boy did we used to fight when we were little. I remember having to sit in a chair and hug (our punishment for fighting with each other) ALLLLL the time. (Imagine how that went: lots of who can hug/squeeze the other harder. Not sure what my mom was thinking.) We were mean to each other even a couple years into high school. He ended up going to the same college as I did, and we really started getting along then. Now, we have kids the same ages, and get along great! There’s hope. I never thought we’d ever get along like we do now.

  9. I’m the girl between two boys. My older brother is 20 months older and younger brother is 2.5 years younger. So we’re all within 4 years.
    I’ve never ever gotten along with my older brother. Like from the day I was born it’s been a hate-hate relationship that’s continued into adulthood. I’m forever grateful that he decided to move across the country.
    On the other hand I get along wonderfully with my younger brother. But then again, we’ve gotten along since day one. I don’t think I’ve ever really fought with him. Maybe as a kid, but never in any serious way.

  10. Sister and I are 18 months apart, 2 school grades. How Nikki and Wes are interacting? Sounds almost exactly like Sister and I. Our personalities were/are completely opposite of one another and we’ve never been BFFs…but we’ve always have been sisters. Once we grew up and got away from having to interact all the time, we appreciated one another a lot more. We still have our disagreements and Sister won’t ever be my best friend, but….she’s my sister and I love her and I know she feels the same. And that’s good enough for us.

  11. I was awful to my sister as a kid. She was 5 years younger and I was a jerk to her from the start. In high school it got better and in college it got WAY better and now we’re really close (even though we’re no longer close geographically).

  12. I don’t really have any advice, except for a book recommendation: Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle. She has really sensible, down to earth advice about parenting issues, including sibling rivalry. Oh that reminds me, Siblings Without Rivalry by Faber and Mazlish is another good one. My kids are too little right now to be epically mean to one another, but I’m sure that time is coming.

  13. My brother and I were at each other’s throats CONSTANTLY when we were kids. I think he is still emotionally scarred from some of the hell i thrust upon him (he certainly doesn’t let me forget some things) and there was at least one time when he locked me in my room when our parents weren’t home and I had to climb out my window to free myself. BEST FRIENDS NOW. We live in different parts of the country but we go back and forth to see each other and try to plan our holidays back at our parents’ house so we can make it to the same ones. He was my “Man of Honor” at my wedding. Basically, he’s my favorite.


  14. My brother is younger than me by 2.5 years as well. We went out of our way to try & kill each other for nearly 18 years. For real. He once threw a lit zippo lighter at me while I was trying to fill the lawn mower with gas….thankfully his aim was off. I plotted ways to kill him with the family car on more than one occasion. That said, he’s my best friend now. After we both got to college the deep hatred turned into a deep friendship. There is hope! 😉

  15. I’ll third Siblings Without Rivalry as a great read if you haven’t already. My husband and I were both only children, so I knew I needed some advice when we had our second kid. I read it while she was still crawling and learned a ton which I still use today. My kids are N & W’s ages, but opposite genders and seem to get along (crossing fingers) so far. But then again, I don’t have much to compare that to.

  16. I’m the middle child and the only girl and I fought like crazy with my brothers when we were little. Granted we did get a long sometimes but we had major fights that sometimes even turned physical. No worries now though, we are all great friends.

  17. I’m 3 years older than my brother and we fought like crazy. We had our occasional cute moments but mostly he was a button pusher and I was a “get the hell out of my space”-er. Sadly, I mostly remember awful things he/I did and not many good times. However, I was also fiercely protective of him–he was MY brother to torment. There was a lot of jealousy and tattling and hitting etc.

    Things got better after I moved out. Turns out? We get along fine, but we don’t live well together. It’s also helped significantly that he’s found the right combination of meds for him and I’ve learned to chill the heck out. So, growing up.

    He lives on the other side of the country, so we see each other rarely but are affectionate and happy to see each other when we do.

  18. ultrachelsea – Hi, my name is Chelsea! I'm a 20 something runner girl from Alabama that loves getting lost in the woods, cooking and eating good food, and seeing just how far I can go. This is my blog about fitness, health, and life in general. If you'd like to read more about my adventures, stick around!
    Chelsea Schiavone says:

    Roo was one of those kids that existed PURELY to get me in trouble. I swear, she LOVED IT. She THRIVED off of it. Being the completely typical first born child that I am, I didn’t ever actually do all that much to get in trouble for. So what did Roo do?? On more than one occasion, to my great horror and dismay, she would completely FABRICATE some story just to get me in trouble. I was grounded exactly one time in my entire life– when Roo told our mom that I had colored on her brand new shoes with permanent marker. Imagine my horror when mom believed her story, because of course no 3 year old could be evil enough to make up something like that just to see someone else get yelled at… Well she was. And I did. Mom thought I was lying when I denied it, and I VIVIDLY remember being made to read Revelations 21:8 (the verse about liars BURNING IN HELL) out loud through my tears while Roo watched from afar, happy as a clam. Anyway… All that to say, me and my sister hated each other when we were little. We are totally BFFs now… She finally grew out of being an annoying little kid and I guess I grew out of being a bossy know it all 🙂

  19. Just read this quote from a blog and immediately thought of your post.

    “Because I was playing Uno. With a kindergartener and a second grader who mostly hate each other because they have not yet discovered that their angsty, conflicted, passionate feelings regarding each other are really love. So they fight and they fight and then when they are done fighting they plan their next fight.”

    I hope this helps you feel better about your lil sib-haters.

    – See more at:

  20. My sister and I fought ALL the time growing up. Seriously. But now we are best friends and talk every day. We even had a double wedding! I remind myself of this frequently when my kids are going at it.

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