From Moms to Siblings

We’ve just acknowledged our moms for all that they do/did do for us.  My mother has been dead for almost eight years, but I swear that she showed up last Sunday.  She might have been pointing to her watch and informing me that it was a few minutes past noon and that she hadn’t yet gotten a “Happy Mother’s Day Call” from me.  That wouldn’t surprise me!

But we siblings not only spent time considering the major role our moms played in our lives but also the ways in which they did (or did not) help foster good relationships with our brothers and sisters.  (As an aside, I am sure my mother is still having conniption fits over the frosty connection between my brother and me.  She so much wanted us to get along and remain in each other’s lives. That’s a subject I write about in The Sibling Connection: How Siblings Shape Our Lives.  Check it out at any online book site.)

It should be said that the distance between my brother and me had little, or nothing, to do with my mother and her parenting.  At least, that’s not how I see it.

However, childhood is the time when siblings spend the most time together under the same roof.  Moms (and fathers) are an important factor in how their children get along. Parents can help their children foster close, supportive relationships by:

  • Allow children to settle their quarrels.  Research has shown that the more parents intervene. the more siblings fight.  When parents send their children to separate rooms, for example, they don’t learn how to make deals, to compromise.  Quarreling can be quite healthy.
  • Avoid the tendency to label one child as the “good” kid and another “bad.”  The “bad” child always gets blamed for trouble, while the “good” child gets away with murder.  This sets up a lot of anger for the “bad” child toward both his/her sibling(s) and parents.
  • Honor the different temperaments of children.  Temperamental differences can fuel fighting, particularly if at least one child is highly active or impulsive.  It’s not unusual for parents to have trouble differentiating between who children are and how they behave.  Often it is the difference in temperament that is especially annoying or particularly appealing.  Yet few parents can admit that they may like one child more than another at any given time.
  • Recognize that what affects one child usually affects the others.  And what affects parents is usually passed on to their children, though, most likely in different ways.

So, as we move from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day and then to Sibling’s Day next March, let’s not wait for specific days on the calendar to celebrate family and to do all we can to foster close, supportive, and fun sibling relationships.



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A Sibling Quiz





  1. How much time did you spend with your siblings growing up?

a)    A lot

b)    Not as much as I would have liked

c)    Very little

d)    None at all


  1. Did both of your parents work outside of the home?

a)    Yes

b)    Only my dad

c)    Only my mom

d)    One or both worked off and on

  1. How did you get along with your siblings?

a)    Extremely well

b)    Okay

c)    Not great

d)    Terribly

  1. What activities did you and your siblings share?

a)    Everything

b)    Sports/Other

c)    Academics

d)    Music

  1. How would you rate your parents’ (parent’s) discipline?

a)    Very strict

b)    Inconsistent

c)    Lax

d)    What discipline?

  1. How often did your parents encourage you to get along with your siblings?

a)    All the time

b)    Regularly

c)    Rarely

d)    Not at all

  1. Did you or someone else take care of your younger sibling(s)? If you are an only child or a younger sib, who took care of you?

a)    Yes. I was responsible more than I would have liked

b)    I sometimes took care of my siblings

c)    Rarely. We usually had a babysitter

d)    Never

  1. If a sibling were bullied and/or physically harmed, you would:

a)    Step in immediately to help

b)    Let him/her work it out without my help

c)    Tell a parent

d)    Post on Facebook or other social media sites

  1. Did your family take an annual vacation? How did it go? If you didn’t spend time together away from home, how was family time at home?

a)    We had a blast

b)    I was bored out of my mind

c)    My sibling(s) and I fought all the time

d)    I will never take another family vacation

  1. If you’re an adult, how do you get along with your siblings?

a)    We’re best friends and help each other out as much as possible

b)    We see each other occasionally

c)    We don’t agree on much of anything

d)    We are estranged


If you had 9 to 10 a’s, you enjoy a very close and supportive relationship with your sibling(s).


If you had 7 or 8 a’s, your relationship with your sib(s) has played a role in your life, mostly positive.


If you scored 6 or 5 a’s, you and your sib(s) are distant and don’t have much in common.


If you scored 4 to 0 a’s, you have a very conflicted or nonexistent connection with your sib(s).

How did you do?  Surprised?  

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) in 2009 and found that the majority had good feelings toward their siblings.