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Why do people expect siblings to be similar?

I’ve always been confused why people expect my sister and I to be similar – there are 3 years between us and both physically and emotionally we are very different people.

Interestingly it seems that wanting siblings to be similar isn’t something that just occurred in my childhood.

Littler started at nursery last week – cue lots and lots of excitement on everyone’s part and her delight that she was finally doing something appropriately big girl.

Her keyworker and the other nursery staff has expressed delight that she would be joining them and said how sweet and adorable she was. We decided it was better for everyone if we didn’t let on to them initially about the whole Machiavellian criminal mastermind that lurks behind ridiculously long eyelashes and appropriate use of please and thank you.

She pottered off into nursery last week and all was well – she was fine, typically for one of my children not being at all bothered about being left and more interested in the new slippers she had to wear there. Bigger was adorable and has spent most of the time leaving her classroom to check that Littler isn’t having more fun than she is.

But the nursery staff have commented that not only is she incredibly independent (she is, she is incredibly self contained and self sufficient – it’s lovely but does occasionally make you yearn for a child that actually needs you from time to time) but also that she is very different from her big sister.

Trouble is that I thought that was the whole point. Or have I got the wrong end of the stick?

Of course she is different. They are different.

My pregnancy with Littler was different, her arrival into the world was different and she’s been different since day 1.

I love the fact that they are not clones of each other and love watching how they interact and how their different personalities and approach to the world impact on the way they play together.

Bigger is a thinker, a worrier and likes to know how the world stands. In contrast Littler is into everything, pushes the boundaries, sticks her nose in and has no sense of self preservation or danger – she will try anything and everything and assumes that the world will do what she wants it to.

Littler needs to sleep, loves to sleep and will ask to go to bed. Bigger needs little sleep, wants to have someone warm to curl up to in bed to stave off nightmares or sleepwalking caused by an overactive imagination. Littler prefers to sleep in the dark. Bigger likes a nightlight.

Bigger’s hair has barely grown despite her being 4. Her first haircut was at 3. And took about 2 minutes. Littler has a full head of hair – manic messy hair that grows like a weed and requires regular detangling.

Bigger started out on the 25th centile and rapidly headed up towards the 98th and has stayed there or thereabouts – she is a tall girl, wearing clothes two or three years ahead of her age. Littler is smaller – on a good day she is on the 25th centile but more normally around the 10th – she is just about getting into clothes for her age group but is wearing things Bigger was wearing a full year ahead of her in age terms…

Their differences are what I adore about them.

Why do people assume that just because they look a bit alike they must be the same?

How dull would that be?

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14 comments to Why do people expect siblings to be similar?

  • Try having twins! EVERYONE assumes that twins are the same not just similar and they couldn’t be more wrong. I have identical twin girls that despite the sharing of genes and the obvious similarities they are just as different as they are similar. I also have fraternal boy and girl twins and even then despite them likely to share the same amount of genes as regular siblings people look for the similarities. Everyone is an individual in my view and the nurture v’s nature influences are both relevant.

  • I confess that I did sort of assume that as we were parents of two girls sprung from the same gene pool that they would have similar natures. I guess that they are similar in many ways. But who wants to be exactly the same? And why- unless the person you want to be is loaded.

  • I think people have very short memories – they all express surprise that children are ‘so different’ from each other, yet if you quiz them about their own family, turns out they and their siblings have nothing in common. Everyone has their own personality stamped on them firmly from the start – that’s one of life’s great mysteries and delights.

  • Ali

    My sister and I couldn’t be more different! But if we were the same, I’m not sure we’d get along so fabulously.

    Littler sounds just like my little Biscuit – down to the slightly mad hair, independence, sleep and utter lack of sense of danger or self-preservation. She is wonderful:-)

  • We’re still waiting to see how Noah will be, but my first two are totally different. They do look similar (though we also have the hair thing going on – Freyja’s is so fine and Theo’s is thick and unruly) but other than that they are different. Freyja is sensible, needs to please, likes doing her own thing, more reserved. Theo is defiant, loud, affectionate, couldn’t care less if he’s naughty or gets in trouble!

    I always worry that when Theo starts school, if he ever goes up into a class with the same teacher Freyja had, they will be in for a real shock if they expect him to be anything like her!!

    I’m not really like my siblings either. I think the differences in your children is one of the delights of parenting!

  • Mine are total ying and yang. I just try not to point out the differences too much as people tend to pass judgement easily and what is meant in a descriptive way may be taken up as a negative or positive comment. What I love are the suprises too, how suddenly a placid baby becomes a very determined and temperamental toddler while the demanding baby becomes a cheerful and happy toddler. With ours, it’s likely that one comes after me and one after her dad, as we are also quite complementary in personality.

  • […] Muddling Along Mummy made me laugh with her post of the differences between siblings and how it surprises people. We get this too (and also possess a criminal mastermind who was a bit of a shock after the first two!) […]

  • my three all look very simular yet are equally different, I guess siblings are going to have certain simularities due to shared experiences but no one is ever goign to be exsactly the same as anyone else no matter what the genetic makeup

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