I have a brother, Matt, who is four years older than me. I am the baby of the family and I call him “the prodigal son.” Needless to say, growing up with Matt wasn’t always the best of times. He was the mean, older brother who chased me around the house with a hammer. He called me names, made fun of me and brought me to tears on several occasions. Our childhood relationship was not what I would call a friendship.

It wasn’t until he went off to the military and I started high school that I realized I needed him in my life. It took him leaving for basic training, then fighting in two wars for me to understand that we both needed to grow up and see what we have and what we were missing out on. Now, I can’t imagine my life without him and I consider him a friend!

Will My Kids Turn Out The Same?

Fast-forward a couple years, I find out I am pregnant with a boy—I cried. I didn’t want my nonexistent second child to grow up resenting their older brother like I did! Sure, I knew one day my children would have several fights, many arguments and words would be thrown around that they didn’t mean, but I never wanted them to regret their relationship with each other.

Cohen and Collyns are three years apart and Collyns worships her older brother! And boy am I glad that he is her world. She looks up to him and will do whatever he asks/tells her to do. I believe there are different levels to every brother and sister relationship. I think every relationship evolves over time and changes throughout a lifetime.

Helping Our Oldest Be a Better Big Sibling

I question if every parent should teach their older son or daughter how to be a good sibling. As the oldest, Cohen’s job is to mold the mind of his younger sister, to help her reach her maximum potential and be almost as awesome as he is! My husband being the oldest in his family, with two younger sisters and myself being the baby, decided we needed to offer some suggestions to Cohen to help him be the best big brother.

1. Know when to help each other cheat. When someone accidentally spills food on the floor, don’t rat each other out, help clean up.

2. Play together, but know when you need space. This is self-explanatory. Forts in the basement built with blankets are the first step to building lifelong bonds. But it’s not necessary for you to play babies and Barbies 24/7.

3. Look out for each other. When you see her doing something you know isn’t right, try to fix it before she gets into trouble. One day you’ll need her to have your back.

4. Let her imitate. We know it drives you crazy when Collyns repeats everything you say, imitates your gestures and your tone of voice, but know that she is imitating you because she wants to be you. It’s your job to set a good example.

Seeing How Deep Their Bond Goes

Even though some days Cohen says, “I hate having a sister” but in the same breath, “will you be my best friend?”, deep down I know Cohen actually likes her. I didn’t realize their bond until she started kindergarten. At the open house he took her hand and showed her her classroom, explained to her how the lunchroom worked, planned their walk to after-school daycare and got her excited to go to a new school. He could tell she was nervous and he tried to ease her nerves. He is protective and helpful when it comes to his little sister.

Even though it took my brother and I more than 15 years to realize how strong and great it is to have a sibling, I wouldn’t change our bond. He has my back and he always did; I just didn’t realize it at the time. I am so glad Collyns has a big brother and that Cohen is her best friend. I hope their bond continues to strengthen over the years.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

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