Sibling Uncertainty

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings — their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Hey, could you go sit by Petra so I can get a picture of you two?

I worried, when I was pregnant, that Silas wouldn’t get along well with a new sibling. One of the reasons we wanted to have our children close together is so that he would have very few memories of “the good old days” when he was our one and only. Those fears were somewhat founded–the first couple of months were rough. We were careful not to blame the baby for things not going the way he wanted (we never said, “I can’t help you right now, I have to feed the baby.”), but he’s no dummy. He figured it out. He wanted to be in my lap while I was feeding her. He wanted to ride in the stroller or the Ergo. He wanted me to sleep with him.

Oh, that’s very sweet, but I can’t see anyone’s face. Can you just sit by each other? Just for 1/60 of a second? PLEEEASE.

The good news, I guess, is that that didn’t last very long. He got used to it. He already seems to not remember that she hasn’t always been here.

I read, somewhere, that when you’re imagining what it will be like for your child to have a new sibling, you should think how you’d react if your husband came home one day and said, “Sweetie, good news! I’m getting another wife. I want you to share all of your clothes and your kitchen and the car with her. Why do you look so upset?”

Framed that way, Silas got over it a lot faster than I would.

Where are you going? I can’t…please just stop moving just for less than a second.

I wonder how they will shape each other’s lives–how they are already shaping each other’s lives. Will Petra be more of a tomboy because she has a big brother? Will Silas be more empathetic because he has a little sister? She seems to have been easy-going since she was born–long before she understood that she had a brother. He’s always been a bit high-strung. Does their birth order make those differences stronger? Are they more the way they are because they need to differentiate from each other?

Go back up on the couch there with her—yes, I’ll show you the picture once I’ve taken just one that has both of you in it. Please!

I love seeing them have fun together, even though the thing they like to do the most is drive me crazy. They sure get a kick out of that.

Okay, that’s kind of nice. Now could you look at me?

Having a pair of siblings makes me reflect on my own siblings, JC’s siblings, and my friends’ siblings. I remember the fights my brother and I had, and the times we had fun together (often by driving our parents nuts, as it happens. A popular pastime). I know people who are closer to their siblings than I am to mine, and people who are downright estranged. Even when my brother and I go a month or more without talking to each other, I’m glad that he’s out there. We are each the only witness to each other’s lives, the only ones who had the same experiences side by side. Even though we often have different (and conflicting!) memories, we went on that walk beside each other. No one else gets the particular kind of weird our parents are. No one else shared our inside jokes. Each family is its own civilization. A marriage is a clash of cultures, a melting pot. Only your siblings have the same passport that you do.

I hope that Silas and Petra will grow up to be friends. I hope they’ll be able to count on each other. I’m glad we decided to give them each other; they’ll need someone to lean on as JC and I get older and weirder.

Not on her, beside her. I’m not going to get this picture, am I?

Genetics are a funny thing. My half-sister wasn’t in my life at all until I was ten, and since then, we’ve seen each other off and on. I didn’t grow up hoarding my Halloween candy from her or vying with her for my parents’ attention. She was far beyond that by the time we met. And yet, our relationship isn’t that of random strangers. We have a real connection; sometimes I wonder if, had we met without knowing that we had our dad in common, we would have that connection anyway. Sometimes something happens in the world, and she, and my dad, and my brother all make the same joke about it, independent of each other, and it’s the same one that popped into my head. What does that?

That’s perfect, just…Never mind.

Silas sometimes says that he can’t wait for Petra to be big like him because he wants to go for walks together and play in the sandbox together. Yesterday, he said that he wanted to marry her when they grew up.

We’re at a dicey time in their relationship, though. I’ve heard from many people that the sibling deal is all sunshine and roses until the baby is big enough to go after the big’s toys. For a while now, we’ve tried to be careful about the pronoun we use–“the train,” not “your train.” Silas has practiced sharing with friends that come over, and sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t. Now, he often asks us to pick her up when they are both playing on the floor, because he doesn’t want her to play with the toys. We’re trying to teach him to play with certain things up on the table where she can’t reach, but sometimes he just doesn’t want to.

The dog gets kind of weird and snappy when the babies start crawling. The rules change and he doesn’t like it. I think Silas feels the same way about Petra. She can suddenly do a lot of things and he’s nervous about what she might do next.

He’s got his whole life to figure it out, I guess.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?


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  1. janafalls
    August 13, 2013

    I really like the new wife analogy – what a good way to frame the problem for adults.

    p.s. I also have a little man named Silas at home!

    • August 14, 2013

      Hi Jana,
      I was just trying to post a comment on your page, but it is giving me a page not found error… Here’s what I was going to say:

      I am so sorry to hear the pain of your relationship with your brother. My brother and I are not superclose, but we have that responsible sibling/irresponsible sibling dichotomy. I’m sure my parents encouraged it. And also things like, he’s the one who is sociable, I’m the one who focuses on my work. In my family (me and my husband and kids), we try to talk about ourselves as a group, like, “Our family loves the library,” or “Our family takes care of people.” I’m hoping that this idea of “team family” will keep the kids from having to differentiate in unhealthy ways. Of course, my Silas is only not-quite-three, so I don’t know yet how that’s going to work out, long-term.

    • August 13, 2013

      These compliments on my photography mean a lot coming from you! I got a 35 mm lens for Christmas, and I’m in love.

      Your pinhole stuff is awesome, btw.

      • August 13, 2013

        I haven’t had time yet this morning to read the post, but I’m sure it’s wonderful and insightful. These will be a treasured chronicle of this period of your children’s lives (and yours and JC’s) for as long as they live. SO much more meaningful than just rolling off miles of videotape.

  2. August 13, 2013

    Both thoughtful and thought-provoking. I think of my brother and I, virtually estranged, for various reasons, and 9 years apart in age.
    (BTW, I can’t resist: “That’s perfect, just… never mind” is a KILLER photograph).

  3. August 13, 2013

    Your captions had me rolling! We have that same scenario happen all. the. time.

    Your post is so lovely and true. It’s nice that our kids have each other to lean on. I was just talking with my husband about how our best own-sibling bonding moments come from making fun of our parents! 😉

  4. August 13, 2013

    I love the line about the passports – what a great analogy! And Lauren – yes! Some of my best, most gut-splitting laughter with my sisters comes when we discuss my parents. 😉

  5. August 13, 2013

    […] Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile. […]

  6. August 13, 2013

    The disputes over toys, it seems, will never end, and is especially tough in our apartment, where no one (parents included) has any private space to call his or her own. I’m curious about how changing pronouns might work around here.

    As for this line — They’ll need someone to lean on as JC and I get older and weirder — I laughed! Yes indeed! I, too, hope that my boys will be friends.

  7. I love your photographs! I do envy bloggers today for all the photos they’ll have when their kids grow up. I have lots of photos but very few of our homeschooling, which would have been different if blogging
    would have been around in the 1990s!

    The analogy of the new wife is definitely thought provoking!

  8. August 16, 2013

    Your photos are so sweet : )

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