Anna Goldfarb writes in the New York Times about how adult siblings can maintain and even nurture friendships and supportive loving relationships. In fact, positive sibling connections are a signpost of mental health as we age. She warns that growing up in the same household by no means guarantees deep adult connection. Rather, sibling relationships need to be tended to — and how parents approach raising the kids can lay the groundwork for close ties among adult brothers and sisters. As mediators, we bring this sensitivity to conversations with divorcing parents. How will the children spend time with each parent and will there be one-on-one time? How does each child experience the separation and schedule changes? How does each child experience their parents’ conflict? And, how can we, the mediators, help the parents navigate the sensitive challenges unique to a divorced household? Oftentimes, there is a role for a neutral parenting expert to provide guidance in how best to support each child who may have varying needs and sensitivities.
When these siblings become adults, they may experience conflict around the care of aging parents and in such instances, family mediation, yet again, can help bridge misunderstanding and provide a foundation for cooperative family dynamics. In all families, each person takes on a range of roles and responsibilities. Goldfarb’s article reminds us to express appreciation as we seek adult friendship, harmony and allegiance with and from our siblings.