Monday, October 21, 2013

Sibling relationships

One major worry of a lot of new parents of a child w/special needs is how the child's disability is going to effect their other children. I know I had these fears, as did Mike. We often talked about how Down syndrome would effect Katherine and Will (and now Jack).

A few years ago, Brian Skotko, a MD and a Down syndrome expert, as well as the brother to a woman who has Down syndrome, did a study in which he surveyed 3000+ families and collected data about living with Down syndrome. You can read more about the study here, but one fact that stood out to me was, "88% of brothers and sisters said they are better people because of their sibling with Down syndrome." 

When Mike and I decided to have another baby after Charlotte was born, never did it enter my mind not to because of her disability. I do not worry about the impact Charlotte's disability has on my other children; I truly feel that even though at times we will face challenges others families may not, in the end we will all be stronger because of it. 

Sibling relationships are not static. The are constantly changing. It has been fun for me to watch Charlotte's relationships with her siblings change over the past three years. Here is a snapshot of where they stand right now.

Charlotte & Katherine
Katherine has always been and still is super maternal with Charlotte. K likes to be in charge and take care of Charlotte. However, Charlotte used to listen to Katherine and go willing with what was suggested; not any more. Charlotte and Katherine are similar in the fact that they are both very stubborn; so when Katherine wants Charlotte to do something that Charlotte doesn't want to do, Katherine is now met a resistance that wasn't there before. It has actually been kind of fun watching Charlotte stand up for herself...just don't tell Katherine I said that.

Charlotte & Will
Charlotte and her big brother have and have always had a very sweet relationship. She always greets Will with a "hi Will!" and a hug when he walks in the room. Will likes to goof around with Charlotte; wrestling and making her laugh like no one else can. They used to share a room, however, we recently had to split them up because Charlotte wouldn't let Will sleep. She would climb in bed with him, and as Will said, "look for my face and try to open my eyes!" I think she misses sharing a room with him, but they both need to be able to get a good night's sleep :).

Charlotte & Jack
Charlotte has learned from Katherine what is means to be a big sister. Charlotte's relationship with Jack is very similar to Katherine's relationship with Will when he was a baby. She loves laying next to him on the floor, holding on to his hands, and hanging on the jumperoo while he tries to jump. She has taken to calling him baby "Jackie"and right now, I can safely say she loves him to pieces. We will see if that is still the case when Jack starts to move and is going after her toys!

Charlotte is lucky to have her siblings, and her siblings are lucky to have her. We look forward to finding out what the future holds for their relationships. 

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