Siblings: How Parents Can Help them Get On

It was a single bounce of a tennis ball that made me a better sibling—and, as it turned out, a better person too. The ball bounced many years ago, around the time I was in fourth grade and my youngest brother, Bruce, was in second. Bruce and I were in our home, playing a game of our own devising that involved volleying the tennis ball off our basement wall. At one point when Bruce was about to begin his turn, I turned away, then turned back, caught his eye and immediately saw guilt there. In the span of a second, a wordless conversation played out.

I cheated, he said without saying. I missed my shot and was hoping you didn’t notice.

I know.

I’m a little bit embarrassed.

I’m a little bit embarrassed for you.

Are you mad?

Nah, it’s not a big deal. Let’s play.

That was that—except it wasn’t. The one thing we didn’t say in that moment—but said with real words, many times in the decades that followed—was how bloody wonderful the entire exchange was, how in a fleeting, silent instant, we had shared understanding, empathy, contrition, forgiveness, a sense of proportion and a strange, intimate peek inside each other’s minds. The fraternal dynamic at play in that chance second informed and improved not just the relationship we shared with each other, but the ones we would share with anyone else later in life when a similar kind of compassionate mind-reading would be a handy thing to have.

The sibling bond, for all of us, is nothing short of a full-time, total-immersion dress rehearsal for life. Our brothers and sisters teach us about comradeship and combat, loyalty and rivalry, when to stand up for ourselves and when to stand down, how to share confidences and the wages of breaking them. We learn about selfishness and selflessness, mentoring and listening—all of the skills we start life lacking and all of which we’d jolly well better learn if we’re going to function in the larger world outside the home.

Navigating Sibling Relationships

N Pelusi Used With Permission

Discord between siblings is normal. The notion of the cheery harmonious family that never fights is a misnomer. Conflict can come in many forms, 85 percent of siblings are verbally aggressive, 74 percent push and shove, and 40 percent are physically aggressive, which can include kicking, punching, and biting. Among adult siblings, studies show that roughly half speak to or see one another about once a month; the other half communicate less frequently or not at all, and they are more likely to engage in competition and rivalry. The culture idealizes the potential of loving sibling relationships—but the reality often falls short.

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What is a young carer? Financial support and resources

”The young carers bursary has been a new lease on life for me”Sep 13, 2023 12:43pm

A young carer is someone under 25 providing unpaid care and support to a family member or friend with a disability, physical or mental illness or substance dependency.

The problem is young carers are usually overlooked or ignored as the care they provide is seen as the norm.

According to the Young Carers Network, there are currently 2.65 million unpaid carers in Australia, 235,000 are young carers.

We spoke to young carer Lucas, 19 who has recently received a Young Carers bursary funded by the Commonwealth government.

The Young Carer Bursary will offer 1,592 grants of up to $3,768 to assist young people with continuing their educational journey while providing unpaid care.

Lucas’ older brother was diagnosed with Autism and an intellectual disability when he was young, and his mother suffers from chronic migraines, PTSD and depression due to an abusive relationship.

He describes that since high school when his mum’s symptoms became too much, he would “step in as the ‘parent’ of the house”.

Lucas, now 19, has been able to secure a full-time work-from-home role, allowing him to fulfil his carer responsibilities for both his mother and brother.

Young carers often feel the need to get a job as soon as possible to take financial stress off their parents.

Lucas said, “The young carers bursary has been a new lease on life for me.”

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