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Siblings are special. They share our history, including a sense of family identity and many of the same memories and life experiences. While some siblings may fight like cats and dogs, they also provide emotional and psychological support. While friends can come and go, siblings are permanent, knowing us even longer than our own parents. We turn to them for amusement, support and advice. With age and life transitions, sibling relationships change. It is not uncommon for siblings to become more independent from one another as they launch careers and begin families. But with age, siblings often establish closeness once again, especially after a major life event such as a birth, death, divorce, illness or retirement. Because sibling relationships are so important for health and well-being, it is important to promote positive relationships throughout the lifespan. Dr. Christine Price, State Extension Specialist from Ohio State recommends:
• Foster respect among siblings.
• Provide opportunities for siblings to share time and activities, despite age difference.
• Eliminate favoritism.
• Allow siblings to work through their own disagreements and work toward a healthy relationship.
• Encourage older siblings to maintain contact with their younger siblings when they leave home.
• Work to maintain strong sibling ties, which can also serve as a model for children.
• Make an effort to establish and maintain good sibling relations with brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.
• Be there emotionally and physically for each other, especially during life’s transitions.
• Maintain continued contact despite your gender. (Research shows that it is often sisters who maintain and facilitate interaction and communication.)
• Make time to connect and/or re-connect. Special events are often places of opportunities for such interaction.
• Create time to share why you are important to one another.