For Grandparents: Books About Brothers and Sisters


For Grandparents: Books About Brothers and Sisters


The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is a special one that can enhance the lives of both generations.  Grandparents are the connection to family heritage; conversely, grandchildren represent the future.

Much has been written about this important, often deep connection.  But little has focused on how grandparents can help their grandchildren get along well and how their children to be more effective parents.

Granted, younger parents can resent being told how to raise their children. Grandparents often have to walk a thin line between being too intrusive and not involved enough.

So, what can grandparents do to help their grandchildren enjoy close, supportive relationships?

  • Model healthy relationships with their brothers and sisters – Grandchildren learn by example.  They are keen observers.  If they see a close bond between their grandparents, their great aunts and uncles, they are more likely to want that same closeness with their own siblings. Weekly Sunday morning/evening dinners.  Celebration of holidays and other events.  Vacations.  All of these occasions serve as important family events where current and future generations can share time and learn from one another.
  • Reasons why grandchildren are close or distant – Just like parents, grandparents can help their grandchildren develop positive connections with their siblings.  Books about brothers and sisters often fail to detail how.  For example, it’s important for grandparents not to have favorites, to treat their grandchildren equally, to honor each of their individual personalities.  One grandchild may excel in school; another may be musically or athletically talented.  Each has his/her own talent.  None is better than the other.
  • Things you can do to help curb sibling rivalry – The most effective way to limit sibling rivalry is to allow grandchildren to work out their own problems.  Unless there is physical abuse, grandparents should stay on the sidelines.  Enforcing time outs, for example, is counter productive. Grandchildren can learn the importance of sharing, of compromise, of fighting fair.
  • Encourage children to be the best parents they can be –  Grandparents have the advantage of objectivity; they can see things that parents can not. With some distance, grandparents can serve as touchstones for behavior that foster healthy, close connections between siblings.  They can connect the past to the present and ensure that potential past shortcomings can be avoided and that positive attitudes and relationships continue to grow.



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Books About Brothers and Sisters: For Parents

There are a host of books about brothers and sisters for parents.  When the topic of brothers and sisters is raised, the operative response is “sibling rivalry.”  Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s, authors of the bestseller Siblings Without Rivalry, discuss the focus groups they ran and the questionnaires they compiled.  They discovered (not much of a surprise!) that sibling rivalry was the number-one leading concern of parents.


Parents, they wrote, were often overwhelmed and at a loss at how to “help their children live together so they could live too.”

And in my book about brothers and sisters, The Sibling Connection: How Brothers and Sisters Shape Our Lives, I offer help for parents who want to curb the fighting/rivalry between their children.

However, I argue, that the sibling relationship is deep and layered.  It is potentially life’s longest-lasting family relationship and rarely static.  It changes over time.  Siblings outlive their parents on average by twenty to thirty years. What may be a contentious, competitive relationship with our brothers and sisters can become a close, important one as we age.


Our siblings can be the only intimate connections that seems to last.  Friends and neighbors may move away, former coworkers are often forgotten, marriages end in divorce, but our brothers and sisters remain our brothers and sisters. We can’t shake them, no matter how hard we try.









Childhood is the time when siblings spend the most time together under the same roof.  Parents 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.

Childhood is a practice ground for future relationships with one another and with others.  Brothers and sisters learn to love, share, negotiate, start and end fights, hurt others, save face.  Parents have tools at their disposal to encourage healthy connections that last.



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