Moment 2 Moment Masterpiece Parenting Blog

Siblings Rock!!!! Week 3

by: Elizabeth Thorndike

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)


This is a verse that is so near to my heart. I must constantly remind myself that God is working for our good, even when I don’t feel it. He also chose this journey for my typical kiddos as well as for me and my husband. The article below is a beautiful example of this. Hardships with blessings. Trials with celebration. It is written by Sarah Lyons, a freelance writer and mom of six kids. She shows in her writing that beauty comes from ashes. There is a hard, and a good that comes from the hard. Please join me in reading the below article and realizing God’s goodness.

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Having a sibling with special needs is a unique experience that provides both challenges and benefits. The feelings that arise in children are often complicated. The love, appreciation, and compassion they feel towards their siblings can be mixed up with worry, resentment, fear, frustration, and anger. Parents who are in tune with their children’s feelings can help them work through negative emotions and turn them into positives.


  1. CHALLENGE: Insensitivity and meanness of others
    Unfortunately, kids with special needs are often targets of teasing. Kids (and adults) who don’t understand people’s differences may make insensitive comments, ask inappropriate questions, or make fun of someone who is different. Typical siblings of kids with special needs may feel the need to stand up for their sibling, explain their situation to others, or may be the brunt of teasing themselves. “One of the biggest challenges in growing up with my sister was watching people laugh at her,” says Justin Lyons, whose sister Kara has Cerebral Palsy. Parents can help by equipping kids with appropriate responses and teaching them to identify and report bullying.
  • BENEFIT: Development of dependability, loyalty, and compassion
    Siblings of kids with special needs naturally develop compassion and a strong sense of loyalty to those they care about. Even though Kara being teased was hard for Justin, he says it made him less likely to laugh at or tease other people. Kids who grow up in a home with a special needs sibling typically become dependable, compassionate, and loyal adults.

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  1. CHALLENGE: Frustration
    Parents may try to treat children fairly and spend equal amounts of time with each child, but when a child has developmental delays or significant medical needs, maintaining balance is extremely difficult. Frustration (or even jealousy) can develop. Kids may feel they get less attention and that their parents spend more time caring for the sibling. When these feelings develop, it is common for kids to feel guilty that they even have the thoughts, causing them to be more upset and resentful. As a parent, try to be understanding and patient about your child’s feelings. Talking it through, listening, and taking your child seriously will help them feel loved and included. If possible and appropriate, encourage your child to join you in caring for the sibling, but don’t push the issue.
  • BENEFIT: Self-control and thoughtfulness
    Remember that sibling rivalry and feelings of jealousy are normal in any sibling relationship. As your child gets older, help him learn patience and self-control. He will likely learn to put other’s needs before his own.

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  1. CHALLENGE: Worry and fear
    When kids have a sibling with serious medical challenges, lowered immunity or other special needs, kids may feel worried or afraid about their sibling’s health. They may not be able to express feelings the way an adult can. Kids may act out, become overly emotional or appear aloof. Parents can help by being honest about health concerns in an age-appropriate way. Including children in discussions reassures them and reduces fear of the unknown.
  • BENEFIT: Compassion and empathy for others
    Kids who are exposed to someone with medical and developmental challenges naturally become more compassionate and empathetic to those who have struggles. “I attribute my sense of understanding and compassion to growing up with my sister,” says Michelle Hupp, whose sister is an adult with Down syndrome.

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  1. CHALLENGE: Complicated and mixed feelings
    Each person is different, and kids will have a variety of feelings related to their sibling with special needs. Some kids may feel pressure to live up to their parents’ expectations because the sibling may never reach certain milestones. Kids may feel resentment, anger, or frustration that they miss out on activities because their sibling’s care puts restrictions on the family. “Siblings often feel guilty about negative feelings such as jealousy,” says Hupp. “The rewards outweigh the negatives, but sometimes the negatives are hard to talk about.” Parents may not know exactly what their child is feeling or how to address the topic. If you suspect your child is struggling or feelings are difficult to overcome, consider seeking professional help. Support your child’s healthy development and encourage an appropriate relationship between your kids.
  • BENEFIT: A variety of positive characteristics develop
    While all these challenges are realistic, kids with siblings who have special needs typically also develop a variety of wonderful characteristics such as kindness, patience, empathy, compassion, acceptance of differences and helpfulness. As a parent, it helps to think of the long-term benefits and help children shape challenges into successes.

(By: Sarah Lyons)

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Again, with each challenge that might come our way, there is a strength that comes from it. I know that my two typical siblings have deep compassion for others. They also have natural leadership and are flexible. On the other side, they have experienced times where they are very annoyed with their siblings! They have craved time with mom and dad alone and have experienced disappointment when the family is limited because of our special needs journey. Hardships and strengths! True to life!

Next week, we will share some creative ideas for parents to deepen their relationships with their own typical kiddos. Please don’t hesitate to subscribe and share some of the ways you all have helped your typical kiddo thrive on this journey. We value all ideas and need them!!!

about us

Meet the Thorndikes - Moment to Moment Family

Hi there! We are the crazy cool parents to 5 amazing and crazy cool kiddos. But, first, we are Dan and Elizabeth Thorndike – married 15 years and living this life one moment at a time. We have a full and blessed life, but we are clumsily tackling a journey we never foresaw ourselves living.

Read our story of how this journey all started in our blog post titled:
“The Beginning. Our Special Needs Journey”


Elizabeth Thorndike

Introverted extrovert – that’s how I describe myself. I absolutely love being a mama but never knew how hard it would be, nor how deeply I could love.



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