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Siblings as First Friends

Published January 02, 2008        by Nicole

Your baby’s siblings will be his first friends.With luck, your children will remain good friends for life.At first, your concern will be to help your older child handle jealousy of being “replaced” by involving her in care of the baby, even after your thoughtful sibling gifts.As you teach the older child how to play with the baby and how to amuse him, you’ll see the baby responding.Admiration for an older child’s skills and accomplishments and the pure pleasure in just being allowed to be in her company will be the baby’s very obvious emotions.Later the younger child will probably be jealous of the older because of those very skills and accomplishments, but in the early days there’s nothing like having a big brother or big sister to watch and love.

Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles

The time to start a loving relationship between grandparents and other older relatives and your child is in the beginning.The way to keep such wonderful relationships thriving is to keep the companionship and communication open and frequent. Ideally, Grandma and Grandpa live down the street or around the corner, and the other relatives live not much farther away.Holidays are shared, and the families are often in one another's homes for a quick visit or meals.When the kids are a little older, they look upon every home in the family as partly theirs.The child who sees and shares time with elders in this fashion will learn to love and trust them and to look upon them as being similar to, but different from [and in a special way], her parents.

Unfortunately, not all those in the extended family are always within easy visiting distance, perhaps not even in the same state or region of the country.Some of those who you want to be closest to your baby may be able to see her only rarely, when either they you pack up and drive or fly to visit.Between visits, it will be up to you to help your child remember the relatives and help both the elders and the child feel close to one another.Use the telephone and mail to keep your relatives informed about your child’s development; pictures and tapes will help.Show your child pictures of the relatives, use their names often, and tell stories about your childhood that includes them.

A sad fact is that long distance visits are sometimes exhausting for parents, elders and children alike, unsatisfactory for all because unreasonably high expectations and too much “togetherness” in too short a period of time.Routines are upset, and the schedule of activities may be too crowded; there may be neither enough room in the house or hours in the day for anyone to have the privacy and time alone that everyone from the oldest grandparent to the youngest infant needs.

Handling family visits with grace takes practice, along with consideration and goodwill. Lowering your expectations will help.Don’t expect that the elders will find your child perfect and your methods of childcare irreproachable.Don’t for a minute think your child will not, at sometime during the visit, display unattractive habits and perform naughty acts normal for her age, plus some that are far advanced.Don’t dream that you can go all the places, see all the people, do all the things you want to and should.Above all, don’t worry about the elders spoiling your child.A little coddling and extra attention and a little relaxation of the rules will make a visit more special and memorable.