National Siblings Day - Celebrating The Blessing of Human Connection

10 min read APR 03, 2023

National Siblings Day is a day set aside to celebrate family, specifically those we’ve grown up with, shared stories, experiences, advice, laughter, and tears with, those who’ve seen us at our highs and our lows, those who sometimes know us better than we know ourselves.

Of course, siblings refer to brothers and sisters, those blood relatives born or adopted into families. But, I think it’s abundantly clear, in life and from the above description, such sibling relationships often extend outside the walls of our homes as well, both in childhood and later in life.

Today we’d like to celebrate both types of connections, our blood-relative siblings as well as those friends who truly are family.

Both siblings and true, close friends likely make up a large portion of our fondest childhood memories. And, these same individuals are those who encourage, love, and support us as we grow into adulthood, with all its changes, chances, and challenges.

Whether we realize it or not, such bonds bring benefits to our lives in innumerable ways, and as we honor these loved ones we’ll explore those benefits as well as some ways to foster such relationships.

So, pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and join us as we discuss our sibling relationships today, honoring those loved ones who, in all likelihood, make up the closest bonds we’ve known or will ever know.

We Are Family

Is it possible you just sang that subheading? Followed by…I got all my sisters with me.

Minus Sister Sledge lyrics coming to mind, when you hear the phrase we are family, what, or who, else do you think of in conjunction with those words?

What constitutes family?

Our nation’s Health Resources Administration defines family as a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together.

And, while this definition technically presents some truth, I’m sure you, like us, find it to be lacking.

Of course, blood relatives, like siblings, are family. But, as we mentioned above, many of us have also been privileged to form bonds or connections with friends who become like family.

Close your eyes and think with me for a moment about these relationships.

Think about the happiest memory from your childhood. Who was with you at that time? Other than your parents or guardians, who did you spend most of your time with?

Then, as you grew older and life inevitably changed with the introduction of your career, maybe marriage, even parenthood, other than a partner or parent, who was with you throughout these moments?

Other than a parent or spouse, those we most commonly share life with, those we experience true, deep connections with are our siblings, both blood-relatives and those friends who become like siblings.

So, we’d like to expound upon that standard definition of family to get a more accurate picture of what we know to be true of these relationships, specifically siblings.

Regarding childhood, two of the four characteristics of sibling relationships can be seen in those bonds that last through adulthood.

As we examine these characteristics, see if you notice how these relate to your sibling or close friend relationships?

Emotionally Charged

The emotions referenced in this description are often strong and uninhibited: positive, negative, or otherwise.

The word that stands out to me there is uninhibited.

In our parental relationships, sometimes we feel we can’t fully express our emotions. Certainly in work or other casual relationships, these connections may not allow for us to fully “be ourselves.”

But, in a sibling or close friend relationship, these connections (most of the time) allow for full transparency. Even negative emotions are often clearly defined and relayed in such areas.


We often think of intimacy as only dealing with spousal relationships, but intimacy simply involves knowledge.

Now, we’re not talking about academic knowledge here, but a close, connected, understanding of another person.

In other words, there’s a big difference in knowing about someone, and knowing someone. You, perhaps, know your neighbor, but you intimately know your siblings.

Both in childhood and beyond, you likely spend a large amount of time with your siblings or closest friends. And, in this time you learn about one another on nearly every level, sharing experiences that forge a unique connection and understanding unlike other relationships.

Then, as this delves into a slightly different category than intimate knowledge, let’s consider another undeniable element of sibling relationships: shared history.

Whether joyous or sorrowful, traumatic or truly beautiful, the history shared between siblings serves as a means to create a bond that often lasts a lifetime.

And, while we do realize some shared history can lead to unhealthy sibling relationships, let’s think of this in a positive light here, knowing and realizing that the time and experiences shared between siblings and lifelong friends indeed plays a role in allowing each of us to become who we are as a person today, and this aspect makes such relationships unique and invaluable.

In fact, having this kind of a bond with siblings and close friends brings far more benefits to our lives than just shaping us into who we are today.

The Benefits Of Sibling Connection

Both positive and negative experiences with siblings and close friends throughout childhood can have a profound impact on development.

Having a sibling or close friend in childhood can prevent depression and anxiety. And, the absence of both these can even hinder proper development.

Siblings and close friends in childhood cause a person to develop empathy, conflict resolution, and negotiation skills. These relationships also aid in social development, and when healthy, prove to produce the happiest adults.

But, how do these relationships affect you now? In other words, just how beneficial is human connection?

  • Healthy sibling and close friend relationships promote academic achievement.
  • Having a healthy, positive relationship with your sibling(s) or close friends improves mental health by lowering your risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Healthy family connections have been linked to more cooperative relationships in all areas of one’s life.
  • Healthy human connection (across the board) leads to better regulation of emotion, higher levels of self-esteem, and improved immunity.
  • Even into adulthood, often our most meaningful interactions take place with family, or those friends who have become family. Engaging in such relationships can improve your mood, give you a sense of purpose, and may even help you to live longer.
  • Healthy adult sibling relationships protect against loneliness. Both isolation and loneliness increase the risk of cognitive impairment and rapid cognitive decline.
  • Even in sibling relationships with intense conflict, psychologists have found these same relationships to contain great love and loyalty, even hypothesizing these qualities may be gained and solidified within such familial bonds.
  • Healthy sibling relationships promote healthy behaviors from all parties in the bond.
  • Loyalty, respect, and trust are not only fostered in healthy family relationships, these qualities have been shown to transfer into all areas of life for those engaged in such connections.
  • Sibling and close friend connections provide social support and allow people to feel loved and secure.
  • Coping with stress in a healthy way is associated with positive adult sibling relationships.
  • Healthy family connection also encourages personal responsibility.

Unhealthy or stressful family relationships can lead to experiencing opposite effects to those listed above.

Always strive for positive, healthy connections. If these cannot be achieved, distance and space may be a needed course of action.

Fostering Family Relationships

We’ve seen the blessings and benefits of the connection that exists between siblings and close friends, but how can we foster such relationships in our lives? How can you promote healthy sibling/friend connections?

If you’re a parent looking to support and foster such relationships in your children, consider the following:

1- Respect

Encourage respect amongst your children from an early age. Negative and harmful behaviors shouldn’t be tolerated, even at a young age, as these not only may cause lasting damage, but prohibit siblings from forming healthy bonds.

Teach your children to respect one another’s differences as this will promote a healthy self-esteem and facilitate a healthy relationship.

2- Avoid Favoritism

As parents, we’re human. And, human nature can lead us to gravitate towards those people we feel most similar to as well as those who act the most pleasing in our estimation. This can inherently lead to favoritism, even with our children.

So, we must regularly evaluate our thoughts, emotions, and actions to ensure we aren’t showing favoritism to our children, which can breed resentment amongst siblings.

Instead, find ways to show each child how much you love and value them.

3- Family Meetings

Having regular family meetings or discussions can provide a time for siblings to air any grievances and share in celebrations.

Both sides here, negative and positive sharing, can provide children with the tools they need for learning healthy problem solving skills in relationships while creating an atmosphere where they can build bonds with one another as you guide them through both joys and sorrows together as a family.

These times (and in between) can serve as a teaching tool to show children how to resolve disagreements, compromise, and support one another.

4- Opportunity

Seek to provide numerous opportunities for both structured and unstructured experiences between siblings and friends.

Unstructured time is needed for creativity and natural connection to occur, but structured experiences are valuable as well, providing settings for bonds to grow where they may otherwise not.

5- Maintenance

Especially in the case of siblings, these relationships can weaken with age as life brings about change and busy schedules.

As a parent, you can maintain and strengthen healthy bonds simply by encouraging your children to make time for their siblings in these stages of life. (this is in reference to already-healthy sibling relationships)

If you’re an adult looking to improve your sibling relationships or foster healthy connections, seek to:

1- Adjust Your View

In sibling relationships, the connection in adulthood can be stunted if we fail to recognize the fact that each person is grown and has likely changed since childhood.

These types of growth and change are needed, natural, and unavoidable, yet we can sometimes think of our siblings as being unchanged from childhood (negatively and positively).

Those relationships with friends that become family? When developed in adulthood, they don’t carry past expectations, providing a sense of freedom in the relationship.

Your younger, needy, “annoying” sibling is likely a grown, adjusted, healthy, successful adult today, so viewing him or her through a childhood lens will only serve to stunt your adult relationship.

By simply adjusting your view of your sibling, allowing them to be who they’ve grown to be, unconstrained, this can bring health to your relationship.

2- Positively Communicate

Want to know what’s (mostly) absent in positive, healthy relationships? Name calling, negativity, putting-down, harsh criticism, and other emotional abuse.

Want to know what’s abundant in positive, healthy relationships? Encouragement, shared communication about life and experiences, open dialogue, honesty, and respect.

Communication is key to any healthy relationship. So, when seeking to foster a healthy relationship with your siblings or close friends, make it positive. Avoid any communication that will tear down the bonds you’ve built or inherited.

3- Appreciation

Have you ever heard the notion that employees are happier and more productive when they feel appreciated at their job?

Have you ever thought of this in terms of family relationships?

Healthy connections are fostered when both parties feel appreciated and valued.

Support your siblings and/or close friends. Encourage, appreciate, and show affection to your brother(s), sister(s), and framily (friends who are like family). These qualities not only help to build connection, they are foundational in ensuring these bonds remain unbroken.

4- Memories

Sure, with siblings and some special friends you’ve likely got a lot of memories from your history together. But, to keep this connection and continue building it, seek to make new memories.

Experiencing life together is part of what builds family bonds, and this doesn't change as we transition into adulthood. Your closest friends are those who you do life with.

Fostering continued connection with your siblings involves the same effort, creating memories and experiences, doing life in a happy, healthy environment.

5- Release The Past

Sometimes sibling relationships contain baggage, wounds, and scars. If you’re looking to foster a connection with any family members, it’s important to release any negative baggage you may be carrying regarding the past.

Healthy communication, forgiveness, and grace can go a long way to paving the road to healthy adult sibling connection. And, releasing any negativity from the past is a necessary step to achieving any desired connection in the present.

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