My Secret to Raising Sisters That Are Best Friends

How do you raise siblings to be best friends? How do you teach your children that at the end of the day, they only have each other? How do you let sibling rivalry exist while at the same time fostering mutual respect and love?

Sisters… they are a tough duo. Two girls who can be sweet as pumpkin pie and vicious as a box full of cobras. 
 
At almost nine and six, my girls are as different as they come. They are in different stages of their lives, and while Penelope is coming into her own, Pandora is being left out in the proverbial dust. It fills my heart with joy to see Penelope’s confidence grow as she rides her bike with friends, attends sleepovers, and participates in numerous play dates. At the same time, my heart aches watching Pandora frown, cry, and express loneliness each time Penelope leaves. 
 
Pandora has play dates too, but they are engineered by moms and often are scheduled out days in advance. It is just not the same as jumping on your bike and making your own fun.
 
The girls are jealous of each other. Pandora is envious of Penelope’s friends, independence, and academic skills. Penelope is jealous of Pandora’s ability to find joy in everything, and the compliments she receives on her cute looks. Trying to help each of them feel justified in their emotions while promoting sisterly love is quite the challenge.
 
I don’t want to force them to always be together, but I do not want to help them ignore each other either. {In all honesty, it is more Penelope who tends to ignore Pandora.}
 
A few months ago, I instituted Sister Time — thirty minutes a day in the playroom or outside. Just them. Parents are not allowed. Friends are not allowed. Penelope was not a fan of this at first. At almost nine, the last thing she wanted to do is play with her younger sister of three years. But here’s the thing – Penelope’s general attitude towards Pandora is exactly why I started Sister Time.
 
In the beginning, Penelope watched the clock and begrudgingly played board games and Barbies. The first few days were rough. Penelope would make snarky comments and be a typical big sister while Pandora would whine that her sister wasn’t being nice. My response, “Work it out. It’s Sister Time.”
 
I really thought my brilliant idea was destined for failure for about a week and half, but the snarky comments slowly stopped, the clock watching stopped, and the whines stopped. What started? Cooperative play, smiles, and eventually the giggles that can only be shared by sisters. 
 
Sister Time has not fixed everything, and there are still days when only one sister is looking forward to the time together.  But overall, it has been a positive change for their relationship. They seem to have a better understanding of each other’s emotional needs. They have more patience for one another. They have respect for each other. 
 
Sisters, a beautiful duo.
 
Do you do anything intentionally with your kids to foster a close sibling relationship? I would love to hear your ideas too!

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