I always say, my first family comes first, even before my children and my man. Yes, I still run home to my parents’ house. Yes, I still make impassioned phone calls to my big brother expecting him to sort my problems out. And I am not ashamed of it. Because I am blessed to have a first family that continues to treat me like a much-cherished princess though I am 48 and well-educated. Whenever I am home with my parents or my brother, I never have to worry about using my credit card or plan anything. It is all done for me. My parents even plan their day according to what they think I would like to do: drives to the countryside, pub lunches, farmers’ market.
About a year ago, a bitter older woman mocked my neediness and dependency on my first family. She made me feel worthless; she was inordinately proud that she qualified as a teacher and left her parents’ house as soon as she could and never returned since for anything. At that time because I was emotionally low, I was made to feel a failure by her cutting words – now, having recovered from the worst period of my life – I feel sorry for her for not having known unconditional love and kindness from her parents and siblings. It is the most wondrous thing, this unconditional love and kindness. Harshness and forced independence are no substitute for family warmth.
This is my ‘first love’, my big brother and two of my children, walking along River Hamble of our childhood.
These two children of mine, they are repeating our family tradition of sibling closeness. There are ELEVEN YEARS between them, and they live in separate continents. Kit left home when G was only six to go to University. Yet they are constantly on Skype and whatsapp to each other. He is like a mini-dad to her, the way my big brother was to me. She is half considering moving into her big brother’s house when she goes to University (“Uhm no, he will be very strict with me” and “Can we get a dog, Kit, if I live in your house?”), in the same way my brother always has a spare room in his house for me. I feel very happy with that. Our tradition of first family first continues.
And here is Kit, who boxes for the Royal Navy, teaching his little sister the rudiments of street fighting. You can’t get better than this.
Six ways of growing sibling closeness:
- Be a close family
- Express joy at being together
- Talk about an absent sibling – foster close ties across the miles using modern technology
- Raise children to believe that family is the most important thing
- Be kind to each other
- Most of all, love your family. Make them the most important thing you ever do.