Dear Barb—Sibling (Re)Connections

Dear Barb:

Hi, I enjoy reading your weekly column.  I am in my late thirties and have been working on my degree for 10 years.  That seems like a long time, but I am a single mom who also works full time, so haven’t had a lot of time to focus on it.  That’s what leads to my question. 

Since I have had such a busy lifestyle, I have not had much contact with my siblings.  In fact, we have really grown apart.  I have two older sisters and one younger brother.  My dad has passed away, and my mom is living in an assisted living facility.  My two sons do not know their cousins very well, and I would like to change that and reconnect with my family. 

I spoke to one of my older sisters about getting together and she seemed almost uninterested.  I don’t know whether I should pursue this, or just let it go.  I haven’t had any major issues with any of my siblings, it’s just that we got busy with our lives and seemed to grow apart.  What is your opinion?  Should I just let it be, or maybe arrange a get together at my home?  I was even thinking of seeing if my mom would be able to join us. 

Looking for a second opinion, thanks, JoAnne.

Hi JoAnne:

Great topic!  As we age, sibling relationships become more important.  In the early years we are close, then, through our teenage years, we have our own friends and interests or may go away to school.  Then we marry and have families and again become busy with life and do not take the time to see our siblings regularly, especially if we live in different cities.  As our children grow and move forward with their lives, we may find we have more time for sibling relationships.  Also as our parents age, siblings are brought together to care for them.  This is where you seem to be JoAnne.

I don’t think you should just “let it be”.  It’s never a good thing to lose contact with a family member.  Sibling relationships are the longest lasting family ties we will have.  As adults most people describe their sibling relationships as like best friends.  Troubled sibling relationships are often a result of parents choosing favorites, resulting in jealousy and resentment that carries on through life.  There is a lot to be gained through a sibling relationship, such as learning how to resolve conflict with others and interact with peers and coworkers.

You could begin with a family gathering, at a mutually agreed place and begin your journey towards reconciliation.  There is usually one person in a family who takes the lead in these situations, and it looks like it will be you.

Best of luck, JoAnne, and thank you for writing.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.