Brotherly Bond: A Lifelong Relationship or Temporary Roommates?

Brothers Eli and BenOur two sons fight and hug, tease and tickle, torment and delight each other.

In short, they’re typical brothers. I still can’t help but want something more for them – a lifelong bond that will only grow stronger as they become adults. I fear I have little say in the matter.

Elijah (4) and Benjamin (2) have hit that stage when they’re inseparable. Their joys and pains are often shared, with one typically giving way to the other at a moment’s notice. Eli is older, but his gentle demeanor makes him less like the typical older sibling. Ben, in comparison, is a brute. Some days I just give him my lunch money, no questions asked.

They wrestle constantly.  They share toys and treats begrudgingly. And when they’re both giggling my heart can’t help but lift, especially since I know it won’t last long. That’s the short-term reality, but how will Eli and Ben interact in five years? 10? More?

I’ve seen up close the other side of the sibling coin. My parents’ ties to their siblings showed what could happen even in loving families. My dad and his brother stopped speaking decades ago. When my uncle appeared at our home one day while I was a teen I had no idea who he was.

My mother kept up warm relations with her brothers, but I’d hardly describe their bond as tight. We would see them on holidays, and we all dutifully exchanged cards as family ties require. I rarely saw my Mom talk to them for hours on the phone, or connect in ways that my brother and I did all the time growing up.

What changed, my young mind wondered, unaware at the time of the complicated forces that swirl around adults.

Today, my brother and I speak on the phone roughly once a month. We text each other the latest Yankees news and occasionally email links to interesting political stories. It’s a relationship not unlike what my Mom has with her brothers, the kind I puzzled over as a pre-teen for its lack of closeness.

What does the future hold for Elijah and Ben? Will they repeat the patterns I’ve witnessed in my family, or will they be the kind of brothers whose bond endures, even thrives?

For now, the two offer glimpses of a relationship I hope will endure. This week, Ben was suddenly fearful come bedtime, and Eli volunteered to sleep in his brother’s room to comfort him. Eli curled up in a laundry basked covered with blankets at the foot of Ben’s crib.

Do any parents have suggestions or thoughts on the subject? What can I do as a Dad to help nurture a relationship that will only grow stronger over time?


  1. beth trapani says

    For starters, read the book Sibling Rivalry… it’s great!
    I wonder this same question all the time… every single day… I hope/pray they will continue to be close, but who knows. I’ve watched many siblings drift apart primarily because their choice of spouse leads them in an entirely different direction. Geographics matter, too… What I think we all tend to sometimes forget is that we really are raising a family!

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