Book About Brothers & Sisters: Age Spacing

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Age Spacing

You’ve heard some parents say that they want children close in age. That way, they can spend more time together, share more experiences. Other parents feel that having children too close in age leads to unnecessary competition and not enough time to grow up before another child enters the picture.

There is evidence to support both theories. If you’d like to read a complete article on the subject, go to this article on Parenting.com.

In a 1989 article in The New York Times, author Lawrence Kutner writes about siblings that are six or more years apart. He makes a strong case for the advantages of spacing siblings further apart.

Kutner writes about families with “caboose babies” — youngest children who are born when their older sibs are in elementary or junior high.

“With the typical 2-3-year span,” said Dr. Carol J. Eagle, then a clinical psychologist and associate professor of child psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, “there’s a lot more competition between the siblings. When there’s a 6-year difference, it’s pretty hard to compete.”

The younger siblings tend to see their older siblings as parents. Dr. Lucille K. Forer, then a clinical psychologist, said, “I’ve seen it work beautifully. The older child can reach out to the younger child and can be tremendously helpful. The older child sees himself as wiser and more mature.”

The younger child benefits as well, said Dr. Forer. “The younger child has the characteristics of an only child. Only children tend to have good self-esteem.”

 

Your Thoughts about Age Spacing

 

As you read these questions, you can answer them and fill in the blanks (mentally or on paper) as either a parent of two or more children or as a sibling with at least one brother or sister. If you’re an only child or the parent of an only, your opinions are just as valued.

 

  • My sibling closest in age and I (my children) are _______ years apart.
  • How would I would describe the relationship between the siblings/children closest in age?
  • In what ways do they complement each other?
  • In what ways do they collide?
  • If I could change the age spacing between me and my closest sibling in age (children closest in age) would I do it? (Think about why or why not.)

 

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My Book About Brothers and Sisters and “The Jenny Jones Show”

Books About Brothers and Sisters

Yep, I’m still at it.  The drumbeat continues.

I could sit on my laurels (The Sibling Connection did reach #1 on Amazon in its category for a few days), but that ranking has slipped like an eel right through my fingers.

Progress, I’ve been warned, is slow. An author must be patient.  And blog and post and tweet and stand on street corners with books in hand every darn day.  The competition out there is brutal.  At last count, there were 510 million ebooks sold in 2014.  Heck, I just want a miniscule piece of that pie!  Five thousand?  Ten thousand?  Do I hear twenty thousand?

I’ve learned a lot about online marketing and promotion.  The basic principles are the same as those back in the Dark Ages.  Only now, there are all kinds of apps and nifty computer programs and paid consultants out there to help entrepreneurs of all stripes sell some stuff.

Sure, one needs a good web site.  But that alone ain’t going to do it.  Key words.  Social media.  Email addresses of people who, in my case, actually buy books.

Forget about working on your next project.  Social media is a full time job.  Oh, and did I mention fostering relationships with market makers online and somehow getting them to jump on your bandwagon when they’re most intent on selling their own product.

“It’s like a cocktail party,” one CEO told me.  “You need to network.  To schmooze.”

Alas, I’ve never been one to walk into a room of strangers and jump right in.  I’m much more comfortable standing in a corner, sipping a strong drink, and observing all the glad handers that missed their calling and should have considered going into politics.

Politicos, as we well know from this campaign cycle, repeat the same stump speech a zillion times until they can deliver the goods in their sleep.  We voters can, too.  Trump wants to build a wall.  Cruz wants Christian values to save this country.  Bernie wants a revolution.  Hillary wants to get Bill off the campaign trail.

No “Make American Great Again” for me.  All I want is to sell a few copies of The Sibling Connection.  I mean, how hard can that be?  A short, interactive, often humorous ebook for all of $7.98—and that’s not when it’s on sale for half price.

I’ll drill down on those key words.  “Books about brothers and sisters.”  “Books about siblings.”  “Siblings. “Sibling Rivalry.”  What have I forgotten?  I’ll use one of the key word strings every time I write anything.

That in itself is harder than writing the damn book.  I mean, how many blog posts about siblings can a sane person write?

I should have known!

I should have known!

I remember once when I was promoting the first edition of The Sibling Connection.  (That’s right: a “book about siblings.”)  I was a guest on “The Jenny Jones Show,” a national TV fiasco one baby step above “The Jerry Springer Show.”

Anyway, I’d been brought on to talk about siblings.  Okay, so far, so good.  I was always up for a national audience.  When I arrived at the station, the makeup artist sat me down and began applying more lipstick and eye shadow and blush than I’d used when I played the clown in the fifth grade play.

And then Jenny made an appearance.  “We’ve got a great segment.  Three siblings, one of whom is much better looking than the other two.”  She had to be kidding!

“Your job is to encourage the sibs who are not as attractive to talk about their feelings.”

I wanted to hop off my chair in the Green Room, wipe off the hussy makeup, and head for the front studio door. Still, maybe I could turn this thing around and make the salient points about the book.  I’d turn the tables.

So, I ignored as many questions as I could.  Things were going well . . . at least, for me.

During the break, Jenny pulled me aside.  “I think we have something here.  Real fireworks.  We just have to prod these guys to spill the beans, to talk about their jealousy, feelings of poor self-worth . . .  Make it as dramatic as possible.  That’s what our audience wants.”

What had I gotten myself into?  I’d sold my soul in the hopes of hawking a few books.

“I’m not a therapist.  I’m just an author.”

That didn’t faze her.

I wanted to throw up.

After the break and a good deal of hyperventilating (Damn!  I’d told everyone I knew to tune in), I slunk back on stage.  Why did I wear a bright blue dress instead of black?

The rest of my segment was a blur.  A few days later, I received a copy of the tape.  My curiosity trumped (Here he is AGIAN!) my disgust.  With my eyes half closed, I watched.

Damn.  If I didn’t pull it off.  The physical appearance thing went by the wayside.  There was no dramatic breakdown.  If the camera had panned over to Ms. Jones, I’m sure she had a scowl on her face and rued the day her producers ever invited me on the show.

I don’t know if any viewers or members of the audience bought the book.  I doubt it.  If I’d been promoting a romance, maybe even fantasy, I might have made a splash.  But a non-fiction book about brothers and sisters? Not a chance.

 

 

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When Siblings Are Friends: The Sibling Effect

When Siblings Are Friends: The Sibling Effect

In her New York Times Ties article, “When Friends Are ‘Like Family'”, Deborah Tannen explores friendship for a book in progress.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/when-friends-are-family/

As the author of The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives, I read Tannen’s piece with great interest.  I guess you might say that I’m a sibophile (I just made that up.  You won’t find it in the dictionary.)  I believe in the sibling relationship with all of its twists and turns and the many ways siblings help us understand why, how, and the way we are .

Of course, it’s not an either/or between siblings and friends.  Tannen points out that comments by the people she interviewed “shed light on the nature of friendship, the nature of family, and something that lies at the heart of both: what it means to be close.”

  • “Her friends are more precious than her sisters because they remember things from her past that her sister don’t and can’t, since they weren’t there.”  Our siblings have been there since the beginning.  How many of us have a best friend from childhood?  Sure, some of us.  But not many.  From high school?  Perhaps.  College?  Probably.  But these friends have no memory of us as kids, possibly not when we were adolescents.  Unlike our sisters (siblings of both genders), the majority of our friends were not part of our lives in our most formative years.  While it’s true that our siblings don’t always remember the same events in the same way we do, they were there and can offer their take which can be eye opening.  And as older adults when our parents have died, siblings are the only ones who can reminisce about our immediate and extended families.
  • “Many grown children continue to wish that their parents or siblings could see them for who they really are, not who they wish them to be. This goal can be realized in friendship. “She gets me,” a woman said of a friend. “When I’m with her I can be myself.”  According to one large study, two-thirds of people said a brother or sister was one of their best friends.  Jill Suitor, a sociologist at Purdue University, and her colleagues polled 274 families with 708 adult children (ages twenty-three to sixty-eight) and found that the majority had good feelings toward their siblings.  And when you ask older siblings to name their closest relative, they say they feel closer to siblings than to any other relatives except their children.
  • ” . . . family conjures longevity, love, support.”  Precisely.  Siblings often provide, not just conjure, “longevity, love, support.”  For example, I have known my sister since the day she was born.  (She is six years younger.)  Can’t say that about any of my friends.  Sure, we’ve had our issues over the years (No relationship is perfect.) but have worked through snafus and are as close as two humans can be.  Though she lives in another state, we talk and email often.  When the second-to-last of our surviving aunts died recently, she represented our immediate family at the funeral.  I was in Mexico and could not travel back to the U.S.  When I need information about, say, our grandparents and want to compare notes, I call my sister. When I have concerns about my adult son, I often call my sister.  When my parents were dying, my sister and I worked together as a supportive team.  None of my friends could have fulfilled that role.
  • “When a friend dies, a part of you dies, too, as you lose forever the experiences, the jokes, the references that you shared.”  True.  But what about the death of a sibling?  For adult surviving siblings, there is the sadness of the loss of family history.  One sibling I interviewed for The Sibling Connection said, “Our parents were both born in Europe. As a younger person, I was never concerned with the details of my roots.  In the last few years, I’ve been very concerned because my kids have been asking me.  I always depended on my brother, but he’s no here.  My historical roots . . . my local historian is gone.”   Verifying the past, resolving long-standing conflicts from childhood, and pulling up family roots are tasks cut short when an adult sibling dies.  Who are our checkpoints?  Not parents who are old or dead, nor spouses who entered into our adult lives.  And rarely friends because the majority don’t “go all the way back.”  Our siblings can be the only verification of our previous lives.
  • “Just as with literal families, friends who are like family can bring not only happiness but also pain, because the comfort of a close bond can sometimes morph into the restraints of bondage. The closer the bond, the greater the power to hurt – by disappointing, letting you down . . . ”  To be fair, this applies to siblings, too.  Siblings who are close—and brothers and sisters whose connections are frayed, sometimes for good—have hurt one another during childhood and beyond.  We may have said something hurtful in the heat of the moment or competed for parents’ attention or forgotten an important event.  My sister let me down by not consulting me before she suggested that my parents move to her town.  My brother let me down by not supporting my desire to give my mother a proper funeral. And then there were the issues around our inheritance.  (The illness and/or death of parent can be a dicey affair.)

We all have friends who are “like family.”  Eighty per cent of us have at least one sibling.  Both relationships can be loving, supportive, fun.  But unlike friends, our siblings are the only ones who go all the way back and can help us understand where we came from and where we’ve gone.

 

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