How to strengthen the bonds between siblings during divorce
When a family separates, often the children of the marriage are the only people who truly know how the other siblings are feeling and experiencing. Accordingly, as siblings navigate a new family dynamic, new living arrangements and new care arrangements, it is important for them to know that they always have each other. Rachael Scharrer, divorce expert and founder of DivorceAnswered.com.au says, as parents, we can help to strengthen the bonds between siblings during divorce by:
- Say good morning and good night to each other. The basic task of saying good morning and good night (acknowledging each other) helps to form a strong bond. Children say welcome and farewell their parents when they start and finish the day and when they go to school. It’s equally important for children to say hi and bye to each other, as well as good night and good morning.
- Apologise, cuddle and forgive. Many families implement a ‘never go to bed angry’ policy between family members. It is equally important that siblings settle their differences before leaving the house, going to school or going to bed. Encourage your children to make genuine apologies (even if it was an accident), cuddle each other and move on (forgive).
- Help each other. By teaching your children that everyone is unique and has different strengths (like some children are stronger in maths than English and others are better at sport). The children can always learn from each other and accordingly, they can help each other when the other isn’t as strong, knowledgeable or able.
- Be each other’s advocate or champion. Siblings will have moments of not liking each other, they will always have and love each other. You could remind the children that later in life, they will only have each other to lean on and support. That the bonds of family are so strong they can never be broken. Be each other’s biggest supporter and fan, have each other’s back and encourage and console each other
- To defend each other and stand up for the truth. If one sibling thinks that there is a wrong doing to their other sibling in either parents’ house, the school yard or elsewhere. when your children are close and connected, they will alarm an appropriate adult, because they care.
- On the same team. You can make a game of having the children on the same team by setting tasks and games for them to do together, especially ones that are non-competitive. Remind them that they are supporting each other as they find their way through a maze, build something together or colouring in a large poster together. Other suggestions include timing the children to be in a swimming or running relay together, then repeat and see if as a team they beat the previous time.
- No favourites. As a parent, be mindful that you don’t show favouritism towards one child. In many families who have ‘the favourite child,’ the other siblings tend to harbour a grudge which is counter-intuitive to strengthening bonds. While each child do need to be treated differently mm,and individual circumstances must be considered, however as a parent, try to be as even-handed as possible most of the time.
Remember that ‘blood is thicker than water’ and fostering a strong relationship between siblings while they are young teaches them a best behaviour practice which they can implement and default to in their adulthood.