Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Siblings and Disability

I have always loved this song from White Christmas--it is sweet and funny. I don't know any songs that include both brothers and sisters, but I wish I did. I have 2 brothers myself and have 2 daughters and a son... For both my husband and I, our siblings are some of our closest friends--we are lucky people.

One of the best blessings and biggest challenges of having a child with a disability is their siblings: What do you do with them? Are you giving them enough? Too much? Are you expecting too much? Are you giving them burdens? Are you giving them gifts? It is so hard to know.

There's research that shows that siblings of kids with Down syndrome report positive outcomes such as responsibility, tolerance, patience, etc. There is a lot of advice available--some of which is ok and some of which is just maudlin--buyer beware! (I think this article is pretty good.) There is also a lot of discussion at home and on the blogs of how and when and what to ask of our kids. Rickismom (my old friend!) really made me think with this post earlier this week.

On weekends one of my little treats (if there is time)is checking in on a bunch of crafty, homey blogs. This weekend I read a wonderful post by Pioneer Woman. Not only is she a really wonderful writer she is also, as it turns out, the sibling of a man with a disability. Her post about her relationship with her brogher embodies the love, respect and, yes, the struggles that I hope my own older children will embrace for their sister.

We have worked hard here to build up each of our kids as individuals and to develop our relationships with one another as a family. My own belief is that accommodating our differences and needs and gifts as a family is part of the adventure and the patina of our family--it's what makes things fun and what seals us together. We have told our kids that we want them to be part of Jennifer's life always AND that we will work to manage the level of dependence that she will have on them--together.

How do the rest of you address sibling issues? How do your kids respond? How does it work for them as adults?

1 comment:

rickismom said...

First, thanks for linking to me.

Second, siblings can be a tough issue.It is very complex. I think you have given me my topic for tomorrow's post (unless we start getting missles in Tel Aviv - just kidding- or the like.)(or unless some other interesting post developes)