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?


Signs of a Successful Marriage/Partnership

I’ve always been interested in family relationships. What makes them good? What causes them to fall apart? So, after Grading the Teacher was first published in 1996, I decided my next book would be about family.

Image result for family

When friends, relatives, acquaintances, and even strangers I met in the supermarket, learned my intention, they eagerly shared their family insights and experiences. People wrote letters, emails, phoned – and stopped me whenever I went out. I took so many notes, there came a point where I had so much material, I realized the stories I’d collected would add up to more than 1,000 pages. Facing the daunting prospect of collating, sorting, organizing and editing the voluminous material, I was completely overwhelmed.

Paul said, “Forget writing the book. Design a great cover. Add blank pages. Sell it. Let people record their own stories.” I abandoned that project, and went on to write Magical MousePainting and Making Opportunity Knock.

However, my interest in family never waned.

This past week, I read disturbing Facebook posts written by young mothers whose partners were deceitful and abusive. I thought about my wise friend Merle’s  belief that couples abide by their unwritten contracts. Interesting concept. What is your contract? I reached out to my long married friends/followers who could offer advice about signs of successful marriages. Ruth Asher, a social worker married over two decades, sent this link to a video entitled “6 Things We can Learn from Happy Couples”:  http://bit.ly/2hRTtsX

Here’s the beginning of a checklist contributed by some who have been in long marriages/partnerships. This list could be referred “Grading the Relationship.” Feel free to add to it.

___ Trusts the Significant Other completely

___ Openly discusses mutual and personal issues

___ Truly listens and addresses the concerns of the Other

___ Values Other’s opinion and reasoning

___ Shows appreciation  for all that the Other does

___   Focuses on giving emotionally, rather than taking and having certain expectations

___ Offers consideration, mutual respect for the Other’s needs and wants – and appreciation for same

___ Shares common interests

___ Accepts Other’s right to have the opportunity to follow personal interests, friends and activities

____Communicates issues and opinions well