Let’s Talk ‘Siblings’…


“Should siblings have expectations of each other? Is it possible to, or can we successfully persuade our kids to be connected/close to their family?”

I raised these questions during a discussion at a small inter-generational lunch gathering …

Along with hundreds of others, the previous day I’d been at the funeral of an esteemed member of the community. I was impressed by the sibling support shown to each other and to their remaining parent.

Of course, eulogies generally extol the supposed virtues of the deceased, Everyone inevitably compares themselves to that angelic person and his/her relationships.

My mom, an only child, has a romanticized view of how siblings should behave.  I’ve argued with her about the reality of sibling relationships – and then she raises the interaction of my late mother-in-law with her six siblings. All gone now, they were a rare bunch. She was the eldest; she adored her brothers and sisters, and they did her. There are many legendary stories about how, in spite of their differences in age, sex, station, status in the community, skills, talents, abilities to communicate, and even the personalities of spouses, the siblings all kept in touch regularly and completely supported each other.

IMG_2294I’ve often thought about my relationship with my brothers, my kids with each other, my husband with his brother, my in-laws with theirs.

Again, I ask if it’s possible to ensure that our kids respect, enjoy and support each other after we are gone?

Can we? Can they? Should we? Should they?

What say you?



Image result for conversationThis week an email request arrives from a friend who has the weird belief I know something about communicating with people. Although she’s an expert in her field, I know she’s shy and uncomfortable in crowds. What she initiated with her seemingly simple question was an honest response that then led into the absurd.

For your entertainment, in this post I’ll share our exchanges. I’d love to read your personal stories and reactions…

In her first email, she asks, “Can you coach me I how to make small talk?”

To get a better perspective of her need, I write back, “How small? The size of an inch, a foot, a yard? Who’d be the recipient?”

Then I add, “I just tend to wander away.” (Which is true when I find myself bored or uninterested in the conversation).

She responds with, “I’m going to a fundraiser for our local MLA next Saturday. Not sure how to interact with the people there. Want to feel more confident. It’s only 2 hours, late afternoon.” 

Okay. After a bit of thought, I send her this:

“All you have to do is ask any person about themselves. And away they go…

  • How are you connected to this?
  • Have you lived here all your life? No? Where are you from? Yes? Where’s your family from?
  • What are your interests/hobbies? 
  • Have you read any good books lately”? Movies? Tv programs? Theatre? What are your favourites/recommendations?
  • What are your favourite activities?
  • Do you have family here?

I suspected any of these questions would lead into a fuller conversation.

Next, I get this surprising response:

Hmm. Now, she’s opened the door to my imagination… So-o-o-o, I go there with,

Ask more generic question.  Are these less personal …

My friend responds with, “Fabulous! Game on.” And then adds,
  • “how did they make their money?
  • What kind of future do they envision for Canada/ is it aligned with the one they want…”
At first, I’m pleased that she’s galvanized. Suddenly, I reread the money bit, and realize that she often doesn’t ‘get’ jokes and may very well think that the suggestions in my last two emails are serious.
Oh my. She/I could be in real trouble.
At first, I re-direct with, “How did they make their money? Or, what’s your specialty?” Then, to be totally clear, I write, You know I was joking w the last bunch of questions?
My final words in this exchange:
“I had so much fun w the absurd ones. And shared them w Paul and a friend w a hearty sense of humour. We laughed crazy. Thank you!