Sibling Love: Another Divorce Truth

When the Tsimhoni children were sent to juvenile detention for refusing to lunch with their father, the judge specified that they should be separated. Isolated away from one another.

My four children, siblings to one another, a family unit of their own.
My four children, siblings to one another, a family unit of their own.

They’re already banished from their home and their parents. Now, they lose the only consistent support they have, one another.

The other day, my eldest son commented about a troubling behavior of my younger son. I had asked the other kids not to comment on it, and to let me and their other parents handle it. But Asher astutely pointed out: “I am with him 100% of the time. It really bothers me to see him like this.”

Yes. The people who are with my siblings most are…each other. They get Mom 75% of the time, Dad 25% of the time and their siblings around the clock.

That’s a startling truth about divorce: siblings become the most consistent and enduring family unit of all.

They’re the ones who shuttle back and forth between houses together. They’re in school together. They are the ones closest in age and having the exact same experience at all times. Who better to provide support?

Which makes the judge’s mandate cruel and unusual punishment indeed.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: divorce is an unfortunate situation. We adults fail at our intentions and other people – namely, helpless innocent children – become the victims of our decisions and our failings.

We can apologize up and down, explain the story to the kids, but it really doesn’t matter. Our faults become their burden. And they have only one another to rely on for truth, guidance and love.

I love my children more than I love myself. When one of them is hurting, I feel it. My most important role in life is to be their mother.

And yet, they are whole individuals separate from me and united in the unfairness of their lives turned upside down when they were 2, 4 and 6, having to be pulled between parents who love them so much that they fight over them at times.

Doesn’t seem fair in the least.

Eliana and Asher asleep in the stroller years ago, their hands clasped.
Eliana and Asher asleep in the stroller years ago, their hands clasped.

I remember when Asher and Eliana were little, and they would look for each other on the playground. A grade apart, Asher would look out for his little sister, and Eliana would be reassured by a wave or a hug from her brother.

In his bar mitzvah montage, I especially loved a photo of the two of them asleep in the jogger stroller, heads turned in separate directions, but their hands clasped tightly in the middle of the stroller. Bound to one another by virtue of being born to the same parents, sharing every moment of life, looking to one another for inspiration and answers.

Siblings are an interesting family model, separate individuals with their own tastes and preferences, united by common parents, and the shared legacy of whatever those parents bring to their story.

Every family has a story. We don’t quite know what the Tsimhoni family’s story is, but we can all agree that they are so damaged and hurt, it will be years before any of them feels whole and healed again.

My family’s story is a bumpy one, but at least I know the insanity has a theme of sanity behind it, and a river of love running through it.

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