My kids were born on the very same day five years apart. That doesn't mean they get along, though. Their age gap and the fact that they have to share a birthday every year has resulted in a lot of fights, actually, and they argue like most siblings do. I don't force my kids to get along, though, but instead allow them the space and time to build their evolving relationship organically. In the process, however, I have realized I've been low-key helping my kids bond in ways that are both long-lasting and beneficial.
I have a 12-year-old daughter and an almost 7-year-old son, so there's plenty of "excitement" around my house these days. And when I say "excitement" I mean arguing, yelling, screaming, and snitching. My son complains that my daughter won't play with him, and my daughter complains that my son won't stop saying "butt" over and over again. They love each other, sure, but sometimes it can seem as though they can't stand being around one another.
But then I catch a glimpse of them them bonding over a shared interest or taking care of one another and remember that they're typical siblings who can argue over something inconsequential but who will always have one another's back. I also realize that in very small, almost accidental ways I have contributed to the love they share and have helped them grow closer to one another. So with that in mind, here's how I helped my babies bond without even realizing it:
When You Punish One
The strange thing about my kids is that they can argue about everything all day, every single day, but the second one gets in trouble for breaking a house rule the other one comes to their defense. They will join forces against "the bad guy" (read: me) and bond over what they perceive to be unfair treatment. I don't really have to try to get them to bond... I just have to parent.
When You Tell Them They Can't Play Together
When my kids get home from school — and especially when they're home on summer break — they end up engaging in endless arguments over what show to watch on TV, who was on the PlayStation longer, or which child deserves a "unicorn on the moon" more (whatever that means), and I'm forced to separate them.
The moment they're told they can't play with one another is the moment they can't fathom spending a single second away from each other. It's truly incredible... and a tad annoying.
When You Let One Sibling Spend Time With A Friend
My youngest doesn't spend the night with friends, but on occasion my oldest does. Turns out, a little "absence makes the heart grow fonder" works when it comes to siblings, too. If my daughter spends a night away, my son is thrilled to have her back home the next day.
When You Ask One To Tattle On The Other
My youngest loves to tattle on his big sister. In fact, it's probably his favorite thing to do. Because he's a rule-follower and she's typically a breaker, he's usually more than happy to tell me what his sister has been up to.
But there are also moments when I know he knows she broke the rules, and he keeps his mouth shut. Instead of spilling the beans, he simply shrugs his shoulders and tells me he has no idea. I know he's covering for her, and as a sibling myself I can't really blame him.
When You Make Them Do Chores Together
There's nothing like being forced to do something you don't want to do and having someone by your side, clearly just as miserable as you are. When my kids do their chores they join forces against me, and I know their solidarity makes them feel like a team.
When You Threaten To Turn The TV Off
My children both love the TV, so whatever they're arguing about will cease to be important if I threaten to turn off the damn television. Suddenly they're the best of friends if it means they can watch one more episode of whatever show they're into these days.
When You Let Them Argue
This might seem counter-intuitive, but I know that allowing my kids the space to argue and disagree and learn how to navigate interpersonal conflict is helping them grow closer together. Eventually, they will look back at their sibling fights and laugh, thankful for the time they spent together.