This post is part of TNGG’s Family Theme Week
“I am not a half!” I exclaimed, after hearing my brother tell his high school girlfriend I was his “half sister.”
To an eight-year-old, the concept of half does not exist when dealing with family. To me, Dan was my brother, my whole brother, despite us having the same Dad, but different Moms.
My eight-year-old self had never known a time when my brothers, ten years and eight years older than I am, had not been around. I always knew I had a different sibling situation than my friends, because I had a sister four years younger, which was common, but none of my friends had an age gap like I did with my brothers.
Over the years, the question has come up numerous times: how does the age gap and half sibling factor affect your relationship? Personally, I don’t really see my brothers as “half” of anything. They were at the hospital the day I was born, and have been there for me whenever I needed them. In addition, I feel that the near-decade age gap actually helped our relationship. While others complained that their brothers gave them “noogies” and wrestled them, my brothers were always too old to hurt me in any way, and since we weren’t “playing” together all the time like my sister and I; we never really fought like siblings who are closer in age.
Obviously, every family dynamic is different, and so every half-sibling has a different experience. However, throughout the years, I have met a couple other friends and acquaintances who have half siblings as well and the consensus seems to be the same: the label doesn’t mean much. A common misconception is that step siblings and half siblings are the same thing, when in reality; step siblings are not related, except by marriage. Half-siblings, on the other hand, share one parent but not the other.
Despite my positive experience, statistics seem to show otherwise. A study done by Claudia Wood Strow in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology found “the existence of half-siblings increases a child’s risk of behavior problems, even for children living with both biological parents. The presence of half-siblings is negatively correlated with test scores in reading recognition, but is not significantly related to math test scores.”
It seems, therefore, that the only assumption that can be made is that every family is different. While the statistics show that sometimes, half siblings have a negative impact on families, my experience has been that of a so-called “normal” family. I never considered myself out of the ordinary, and in fact find that I’m lucky enough to have role models in my life who I can go to for advice, and always a good laugh.