Arabella Gibbons, 22, has grown up with half-siblings. With her firsthand experiences, she believes that people should not undervalue half-sibling relationships, according to her interview with the Guardian. “I remember telling a story about my brother in school when I was eight, and the teacher said, ‘Now tell the truth, he’s not your brother, he’s just your half-brother.’ I was really shocked. It had never occurred to me that my relationship with them was ‘just’ anything.”
Half-Siblings are Siblings
Siblings are our first friends, and sometimes our closest friends. But life is never clear cut. Siblings who fought as children may become close as adults. Some people may feel closer to their sibling-in-law than their biological ones. Some may feel connected to half-siblings, whether they met during childhood or adulthood. No label could properly explain the complexities and emotions in every bond. Therefore, it’s time to stop demeaning half-siblings as lesser than full siblings.
According to data in a research article published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, there’s “no difference in relationship quality” between siblings who lived together during childhood, whether they were full siblings or half.
Many families don’t fit the nuclear mold. Almost 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce, according to the American Psychological Association. There’s no need to create a divide in a family, a unit that could include half-siblings, step-siblings, foster siblings, adopted siblings, siblings-in-law. Then there are fictive siblings, which, according to Cathy Cress M.S.W. on Psychology Today are family members through custom or choice instead of blood. This could include that troubled child or teen who finds more comfort in a found family than in their biological one. Or the cousin who feels more like a sibling. Or that neighbor who practically lives over. Plus foreign exchange students, tenants, boarders, or anyone who essentially becomes “one of the family”.
Semantics only matter in situations such as health, for example, when hereditary diseases may be applicable. Otherwise, why do strangers emphasize how much people are genetically related? For many people, siblings are defined by love and connection, and not necessarily blood or who they were raised with. Saying that siblings are “half” could invalidate the very whole connection they have between them.