Full love for half siblings

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.

Photo by Tayrawr Fortune

Do you have half siblings or siblings significantly older than you? How do you think it has affected you?

Kerry Ricciato I'm a recent graduate of Boston College and now work in the broadcast department of an advertising agency outside Boston. I write for the lifestyle section of TNGG and enjoy theater, fashion, dance, and traveling. You can usually find me getting sucked into the YouTube "related videos" vortex. Twitter: @KRicci89

View all posts by Kerry Ricciato

3 Responses to “Full love for half siblings”

  1. Devon Jordan

    I’m in a very similar boat, only I’m the older brother. Like you, I’ve never called my brothers and sisters, half or step, anything but family. Unless of course I’m explaining what my family situation is.

    My parents divorced when I was 1. Mom met a new guy when I was 3, and with him came my brothers, 2 years older and younger, and my sister, 1 year younger. My dad remarried when I was around 4 (I think), and has since given me 2 sisters, 7 and 9 years younger than myself.

    The hardest part of all of this was trying to explain to my sisters why I only saw them every other weekend. When they were younger (4 or 5 years old), they would bawl their eyes out every time I left. It was heart breaking.

    Overall though, I’m thankful for my “normal” family!

  2. Jonas Habib

    I actually in a very similar situation than both of you, only I’m the youngest sibling.
    My dad before he met my mom was married and had my 3 half brothers and my half sister; the same year she was born he met my mom and by next year my older sister was born and 2 years later they welcomed his fourth but her first son; me. When I was almost 3 my dad unfortunately passed away and my mother never had any type of contact with my paternal family and thus never met my siblings for over 10 years. I surprisingly managed to meet them when I was 12, my sister were 14 and 15 and my brothers 17, 19 and 22. Since then we had seen each other a lot and I’ve started to love them but I’m closer to my oldest and third brothers after my full sister.
    We never refer to each other as half-siblings when we talked about each other or when we meet each other friends or couples; they are always my brothers and sisters no matter if we share one or both parents. Even though my 2 older brothers and I have quite the age gap (7 and 10 years)we treat each other like we have know each other since ever along with my sisters and other brother. I’m actually very happy when I see them, especially when I hang out with one alone since we come close to that sibling a lot in a single day even to the point that I can say that I deeply love them, almost as much as my full sister (who I’d be willing to give my life for).
    For someone who cares about family as much as I do, I have to say that I’m actually happy to how the things between us have turned out; especially in this year when I figure that I have a lot of common with my brothers and we actually act like each other at times. And with my sisters, well, I can’t bring myself to think even to hurt them even a little, I always think of their safety over mine and very careful with them and their flirting sometimes.
    Overall, I can say that I have the brothers and sisters that I’ve always wanted to have and very thankful that we are family

  3. Jaclyn

    Wow, I felt that I was reading about myself when reading this. I, too, have two older half siblings who are 8 and 10 years older than me, and a younger full sibling who is 4 years younger than me. I never refer to my siblings as “half”. They are my sisters, nothing more or less, and they have always been a positive influence in my life. <3


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