Bonding with younger siblings
I recently sat down to watch the film Grave of the Fireflies. For those unaware, it is one of the best war-time animation movies of all time and undoubtedly the saddest to have been made by Studio Ghibli. The point of bringing this up is not to highlight the film's primary, which is war, but to bring into focus the relationship between the 12-year-old protagonist Seita and his 4-year-old sister Setsuko.
The older brother, Seita is protective and generous in the love he shows to his sister. Despite the differences in their respective understanding of the circumstances they are facing, they thrive off of each other's company. Seita and Setsuko's relationship is a good example of a healthy and loving sibling relationship between siblings with large age gaps. But for many, this can often prove to be a bit of a challenge. Especially when much of the dynamic ends up resembling a secondary parent-child relationship.
Wanting to be a good role model and being protective of one's younger sibling is natural, but it should not be at the cost of forming a genuine bond with your sibling. Not only does this leave a bitter taste to the relationship, it would also inherently lead to the older sibling falling into the trap of becoming a third parent to the younger sibling.
Being an older sibling, we may think that playing the role of that one person they will look up to reserves some degree of respect for the older ones. However, in doing so we may find ourselves burdened with additional responsibilities and feel a need to live up to expectations we never signed up for. It is almost always more emotionally fulfilling to bond over shared experiences and knowing one another well.
The simple acts of watching movies together or cooking together on occasion, become the forever cherished memories one holds dear to. It allows for conversations, the amusing and the important, to take place. It also goes without saying that "being all ears" and "standing by each other's side no matter what" have gotten a bad reputation for being clichés but never have such clichés been so unjustly looked down on.
All these things help the bond between siblings flourish into one that is friendlier and merrier as opposed to one that is more emotionally distant and rigid. It is essential to establish that because this bond that we have with our siblings will perhaps be some of the most meaningful and longest ones for many of us. Even if that is not the case, trying to develop such a relationship is a very rewarding experience.
Few people outside our family will truly get to know us the way our brothers or sisters do. The unspoken degree of connectedness we will share with them is one of life's irreplaceable joys.
In Grave of the Fireflies, Seita was able to remain cheerful for his sister despite experiencing the harshness of their reality. The presence of Setsuko was the only source of genuine happiness in his life as she, unlike himself, was too young to grasp the weight of the adversity they found themselves in. Although most people may not be in similar situations, it goes to show that sometimes it is the difference in perspectives itself that can prove to be the biggest advantage and precursor to deeper connections with loved ones.
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