Family togetherness and affection brought to you by…


Ethan, 11yo, with Fiala, 3mo (You can't see it, but he's holding/hugging her hand/arm.)

Well, maybe not.  There are other families whose siblings are close in relationship.  But, I certainly think homeschooling creates an environment that encourages sibling-togetherness.  Maybe forces it, even.  😉  In a good way, though.

I am the second of four siblings.  Growing up, we were way NOT close.  We were all adversaries, in fact.  Part of that (maybe most of it) was due to our unstable family situation.  I don’t know for certain — haven’t read any studies or anything on it — but it seems to me that in families full of abuse, it might be common to either 1) develop an intense, protective closeness between siblings; or 2) develop an “every man for himself” mentality.  Ours was the second.

Also, in traditional school settings, kids are completely age/grade segregated.  In my own experience in school, the common mentality was that everyone a grade younger was such a baby.  And everyone a year advanced was so unattainably mature.  Mixing between the grades — friendships, or just playing together — was extremely rare.  I found somewhat of an exception in team sports, where one is assessed by her skill, rather than her grade level.  Still, there was still the aura of superiority that emanated from one’s elders, which we, in turn, passed onto those below us.  One even avoided one’s own siblings at school.

In contrast, visit any homeschooling group, and you will see 11-year-olds playing happily with four-year-olds, boys and girls together.  Contrary to the beliefs of the general population, there have been studies that show that homeschooled kids perform more naturally in social situations with a wide variety of ages and with those of the opposite gender.  They’re just used to, on a daily basis, interacting with a wide variety of ages, and they’re not brought up to see differently-aged humans — even adults — as the enemy.

It literally wasn’t until I was 17 and my sister was 15 that we started to get along and develop some camaraderie.  It wasn’t until my college years that my brother, three years older, and I developed even a tolerance for each other, let alone friendship.  Now, I am very close to both my younger sister and my older brother.  I love them both very dearly, and they, likewise.

My younger brother, though… born only five and a half years after me, it’s as if we’re removed by an entire generation.  We were never ever close, and still struggle to maintain relationship.  It’s not like we dislike each other;  when we talk or see each other, there’s lots of love and the conversation flows.  But, we only talk about twice a year, and see each other about once every two years.  That’s a travesty.  We’ve discussed it, and while we each value the other, it’s just hard to create new habits of relationship.  We virtually never interacted as children.  Then, I left home for college at 18, so for many of his growing-up years, we were separated by miles.  As adults, we have EXTREMELY different lives.  He is single and reads tarot cards for a living in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  However, I think theological and social divides are less divisive between us than simply not developing the habit of family togetherness.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that homeschooling will keep my children close in relationship.  But, I think they’re off to a way better start, with each other, than I ever was with my sibs.


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on February 3, 2009, in Babies, Family, Friendships, Homeschooling, Introspective Musings, Memories, Sad Things, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. My sister and I (11 mo apart) were relationally challenged growing up. Very close now. You just never know. We both have now found relationship with Jesus which has given us common ground too.

    Hoping to read about the close of your church leadership weekend! Sounds like an amazing experience and boy can I relate to the relief of just getting away. (I have 4 under the age of 5!)

  2. My brother and I were very close growing up and still are. We were homeschooled.

    But my kids seem to need to argue or fight at least once a day or it isn’t good. Then they have days where they are best friends. Hopefully they will be best friends or they get nothing when I die hahaha!!

  3. This is one of the things I love MOST about homeschooling! My kids (one boy and one girl – three years apart) are best friends. They hang out together and have fun together all the time. They also have friends of both genders and of a wide variety of ages. And I totally think it’s because of homeschooling.

    I have a sister three years younger than I am and we did not like each other growing up. We also thought just as you described about the kids one year younger and one year older – it was not cool to be with them.

    It’s so sad really, all the relationships we miss out on with such a narrow view of who we can hang out with!! I’m so thankful that my children are growing up in a completely different environment. 🙂

  4. It is nice to see how close your children are.

  5. Love the pic and you know my little ones are like 2 peas in a pod. I was like that with my brother as well. I love homeschool group gatherings because age is just magically thrown out the window and all the kids are doing things together…love, love, love it!

  6. Dirty little secret: My brother …umm… “bothered”–to put it lightly–me a lot growing up. He drove me nuts. It wasn’t until high school/college that we started to bond. But, yes, despite those struggles, homeschooling definitely started us on a path of friendship, and we are buddies now… when he’s not off with his millions of other friends [smile].


  7. Dude! It’s always interesting to hear you talk about the family.

    You know, Little Bro and I were like best friends. I have a TON of wonderful memories with him. It never really occurred to me to think (as an adult) of us as friends, but one day it occurred to me so I called him to check on it. He agreed.

    We used to get in trouble playing in his room… I’d have to sneak out his bedroom window into the family room and get away. I’m pretty sure mom was not fooled.

    We had this game where one of us would get b/t his two foam mattresses and the other person would get on top. The person in the middle would try to get away, and the person on top would try to stop them.

    We actually went through this phase where we thought it was funny to chase each other and spit on each other. He spit in my mouth. It was funny at the time.

    And when mom would drop us off at the library, we would roll up those library-newspapers-for-kids-something-about-bears thingies, and we would fence each other like we were in the olympics. We’d do that outside, and ceremonially hum the olympics song and whap each other with the rolled up newspapers until they were in tatters.

    And always, always, he was my little cubbie who would hatch out of an egg and climb on my lap and I would pet him.

    I have many wonderful memories of him. And even now, since he won’t go to the dr, I told him that he has to carry a card in his wallet with my name and number on it so if he shows up dead some day they will know who to call.

    I talk to you a lot more than I talk to him, but I love you both with every thump of my heart.

    Not to leave you out, but Little Bro and I definately did the protective/close thing.



  8. Tina ~ Sorry to disappoint! I never blogged about Sunday. It was fabulous. Sunday morning, I danced until I was out of breath, my legs were failing me, and I was drenched in sweat. Seriously. And that was just worship. The message was from Damas Kamfwa from Zambia, though I was in the nursery with baby Fiala, who wanted her mommy… Then, ministry time, which was great, with extended worship. And the p.m. service was great… I got some wonderful ministry, and so did my oldest son. 🙂

    Christy ~ My kids definitely fight, but I think much less so than they did, even two years ago. My 9yo, who has some autistic tendencies (depending on the doc, might even be classified as very high-functioning autism) is usually the one to start a fight, or get offended, and that happens many times daily… The others almost always can play w/ only a few small squabbles, indefinitely, though. I didn’t know you were hs’ed!!!! That’s so cool! I hope you live close by your brother. Wait. I think you do! I think I remember you talking about your brother and your dad who fix everything mechanical. 😀 What a blessing.

    MLBAH ~ I remember you saying that about your kids before. It has stuck in my memory. Especially since your kids are older than mine, it gives me hope, and a goal. 🙂

    TC ~ 😀 Thanks! And this is the son who was afraid he wouldn’t love his baby sister b/c he loves his 2yo sister, and just couldn’t fit a new sister into his paradigm. He has, obviously.

    Kiva ~ I LOVE pics of your dear children. I’m sure they have their moments, too, but they always seem so peaceful and happy together.

    Luke ~ That is really interesting. Do you think… perhaps… with your father’s bent for debate, and maybe even competition, PLUS him being so very involved in your home education, that it led to what you describe? Or?? I’m interested in your theories, if you have any.

    Jamie ~ Thanks, dear. 🙂

    Robin, my precious sister ~ Actually, as I was writing this, I was thinking about you and Little Bro, and how you were definitely, wonderfully close to him. I loved reading your memories. I can’t tell you how warm and toasty and happy it makes me to know that you DID do the “protective/close thing.” Love you.

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