I Want My Sons to Grow Up Close: Built-In Best Friends for Life

“What are you doing?” my husband asked me, his eyebrow raised and his head cocked curiously at me as I stood outside our kitchen door, frozen in place.

“Shhh…” I whispered. “They’re in there. Together. They’re talking!!”

A look of understanding flashed across his face instantly and he gave a happy nod. This was a big deal. Our teenage sons were actually getting along and having real interaction with each other — on their own.

Parents hope their children will grown up to be close (via Jenni Brennan)

My teen sons were relating to each other

There was no fighting or bickering — just authentic and positive interaction. These moments have grown few and far between over the past few years. So, when they happen now we try our best to not interfere or interrupt. 

We stood and waited and maybe even eavesdropped a bit to their very ordinary exchange. Their beautiful ordinary exchange was music to my ears.

This is what every parent wants, right? For their children to have a real relationship with each other  —  one that extends beyond us as parents. It is what I have with my own sister and what I want so badly for my own children — a built-in best friend for life, someone with shared life experiences, someone who has known you forever, someone who gets you to your core.

There was a time, many years ago, when I thought my two sons would always be best friends. Their three year age gap seemed perfect when they were younger. Back then they would play endlessly with what I used to call their “guys” —  things like Transformers, superheroes, and Imaginext figures. They would spend hours in their playroom together, laughing until their bellies hurt.

My sons were best friends when they were younger

They were best friends and couldn’t get enough of each other.

As they both got older and matured, so too did their relationship. Soon I would find them chattering away at night in their bunk beds as they shared how excited they were about the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film or anything Star Wars related. “I love you” would be the last thing they would say to each other each night. 

No matter how stressful those days got for me as a parent, each night I fell asleep with a happy heart knowing my boys had each other.

Over time, my sons drifted from each other

But as they grew, unfortunately they began to drift apart. Like two ships in a vast ocean, the distance between them grew and grew. Suddenly three years age difference felt like 100 years. 

Eventually they decided it was time to stop sharing a room with each other. As they both settled into their new rooms with giant smiles on their faces that first night, my heart hurt a little bit. This was the end of a chapter of their childhood and I was so scared for what the next chapter would bring.

What if they stopped liking each other? 

What if they grew to only see each other and talk to each other on holidays — or not at all?

That chapter brought exactly what I had feared — more and more distance, less and less connection. Despite them growing apart, I kept hoping that eventually the distance between them would shrink as it had done with me and my own sister. 

I kept hoping and wishing.

I kept waiting and watching.

And lately, finally, things are starting to shift just a bit. 

Instead of being two ships miles apart from each other, they are now starting to veer into the same waters. Their interests are starting to overlap again. Their senses of humor are starting to line up again. They are starting to not just love each other  —  but actually like each other again.

I love that my sons are getting close again

There are moments, like the other night in the kitchen, where I catch them having a serious conversation or even having a duel with their homemade lightsabers and my heart soars. There are times when I return home from running an errand and I hear them playing video games with each other and everything feels balanced and as it should be. There are even times when I overhear them giving each other advice about something and I feel a deep sense of relief.

In those moments, my hope is reborn and I can once again see a future in which their friendship keeps them firmly connected to each other. Despite the distance between them, it is possible that they will find their way back to each other.

I have no way of knowing what lies ahead for either of them but for now, I will keep waiting and watching, holding sacred those moments when their friendship and brotherhood starts to strengthen again. And when I stumble upon their moments of connection, I will stop in my tracks and give them space as I silently pray that their ships have settled in the same waters again.

More to Read:

Sibling Separation

About Jenni Brennan

Jenni Brennan is a psychotherapist, college professor, creator of Changing Perspectives, and co-host of The Changing Perspectives Podcast. Jenni is passionate about exploring the topics of parenting, relationships, grief, and mental health through her writing and podcast episodes. She lives with her husband, 2 teenage sons, 3 dogs, and 2 cats in Boston, Massachusetts. You can follow Jenni on Instagram.

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