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How can I encourage sibling bonding?
For the most part, this sort of bonding occurs without any specific parental encouragement, although there can be (and usually is) plenty of bickering and quarreling and fighting along the way between the sibs. Bonding occurs quite naturally in any situation in which there is shared love and a multitude of pleasurable experiences. This is true regardless of whether we are talking about men and women, parents and children, teachers and pupils, or siblings. But in today’s world of reconstituted and blended families, with full-, half-, and step-siblings often sharing—or feeling left out of—the parental love core, it is probably not as easy as I make it sound.

Bonding seems to be a little easier for later children than for the first child; the first child has had the parents all to himself, something the younger children never experienced. Be careful not to give the older child too many responsibilities for the younger one. In helping sibling bonds develop, it is important that parental love should be perceived by the children as broad enough to cover all the children. Otherwise, the “unloved child” will be resentful and jealous and eager to reach the point where the sibling tie can be broken by schooling or work. With the mobility that characterizes our contemporary social life, a special effort may be necessary to help sibling ties retain their strength. That effort has to come both from the parents and from the siblings themselves. But it is worth the effort, as sibling bonds can be among the strongest and most rewarding established across the life span. Certainly this has been true in my life.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education