A lot is said of the importance of being a good role model for your children. But I am sitting here watching my boys helping each other create stories using re-usable pictures (they are trucks and dozers by the way, but they all have characters and personalities) and I can't help but wonder about the importance of sibling role models.
I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor playing with my first baby. It was the novelty of it all, but also, I had the time! So the guilt I feel about not offering that individual attention to the others has been an obstacle for me. Yet my younger two have something the eldest never had - they have a big brother! They have a big brother who they look up to with all the love and adoration in the world. They have a big brother who encourages them to take risks he never would have been brave enough (allowed to) take. They have a big brother who has the creativity and imagination that only a child can offer. They have a big brother who has only recently learnt the skills they are attempting, can remember the support and encourament that were useful to him and can get back to basics for them. They have a big brother who is not afraid to tell them they are doing it wrong and who is not concerned about hurting their feelings.
This sibling relationship also works both ways. My big boy now has two younger children to nourish, support, share with and be aware of. He has their added creative input to expand his play and challenge his ideas. He is learning patience and tolerance through allowing for their needs to come between him, his parents, his toys and his life.
My husband and I both have siblings. I have two. He has six. I cannot underestimate the value of these relationships in our family. For better or worse, in having multiple children, we have created role models and teachers for each and every one of them. Not to mention a whole lot of love!
Disclaimer - I don't have anything against only children nor those who choose to have them. Like we all do, I am simply observing (searching for?) the benefits of the situation I have created in my own home. Like all parenting and childhood situations I am presuming there are benefits to both situations.