What having three children has taught me about siblings

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

I grew up an only child and now with three kids of my own I've learned what it's like to have siblings.

I always dreamed of having a brother or sister and couldn't see any reasons why it wouldn't be amazing, but now I'm not so sure. There are definitely good and bad things about it.

I can't list them all, but here's four great things and four crap things I've learned from my kids about having siblings.

On the downside:

1. You have to share all of the time

When you're an only child you don't have to share your toys, food or bedroom with anyone else. What's yours is yours and there's something quite liberating about having your own identity that isn't clouded by anyone else.

It doesn't mean you don't learn to share, trust me you do, because everyone makes a point of trying to teach an only child that skill. They see it as their duty.

2. There's always something to fight about

Life is pretty calm as an only child. You don't have to fight about which car seat you'll sit in, which cup is yours or if you'll get the bigger piece of chocolate. There's a distinct lack of screaming, pushing and complaining.

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3. Life is about compromise

An only child doesn't always have to compromise. You get to watch the movie of your choice, get takeaway food of your choice, choose the fun activity of the day or pick the holiday destination.

Aside from when your parents make the choices for you, you don't always have to take turns or give in to a sibling's pushy attitude. You can make decisions and stick to them and not have to negotiate everything.

4. There's only so much attention

Only children have their parents and grandparents undivided attention. They get all the hugs and all the kisses. They don't have to wait for a cuddle. They are the shining star of the family. And like me, if you only have your mum, you are her everything.

On the upside:

1. You're never lonely

When you have siblings, you are never lonely. There's always someone to play a game with you or chat with you about your day. When you go out somewhere boring or on a long Sunday drive, you have a buddy to keep you company.

And when you're facing a hurdle in life, you can always reach out to your brother or sister to give you a hug.

2. There's always someone there to support you

When big things happen in your life, you know you've always got your sibling there to hold your hand.

When you're in the schoolyard or a parent is sick or when they grow old and need help, you have someone to share the load and look out for you. You have each other and it's really special.

3. You have more experiences

You get to do more when you have siblings. There's more birthday parties, more trips to the park, more friends to meet and more places to go.

You get introduced to a range of activities you might never get to know if you were an only child – different sports, musical instruments, interests.

And you get to know how to deal with people with different personalities, emotional needs and desires. You get to share in their challenges and revel in their achievements.

4. You share special secrets

You have a bond with your siblings that nobody can ever get between. You might even have a secret language or way of communicating developed over years that nobody would understand.

As long as you work at your relationship, respect and love each other you have a friend for life. A friend who shares your life experiences in a way no other person will ever understand and will always have your back.