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Edmond author outlines steps to make siblings lifelong friends in new book 'Close Kids'



Brett Johnston
2 p.m. Saturday
Full Circle Bookstore
1900 Northwest Expressway

When Brett Johnston leads speaking engagements, he asks audience members who have siblings to raise their hands. Most do.

Then he asks those who would characterize that relationship as perfect to leave them up. Only one or two will.

"It's kind of sad," said Johnston, an Edmond father of three girls. "It's the relationship that's the longest in our life, and I don't know that there's any focus on it."

Until now. Disappointed by the lack of material on the subject of ensuring one's children grow up to enjoy rewarding relationships with one another, he wrote "Close Kids." Johnston will sign the book Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore.

Before writing, Johnston issued a survey to 10,000 people on sibling relationships. From the results, he was able to pinpoint eight common things that families who produced close adult siblings did on a routine basis, and those items form the core of the book.

Among them are eating meals together, engaging your kids in conversation, reading as a family, and showing true affection instead of the conditional kind. But one factor, he said, is most important.

"The thing that's bigger than all of them is accepting kids for the differences that they have," Johnston said. "A lot of people get frustrated by that or have an idea of what they want for their kids. We all do. But there was no greater thing that people said separated them from their family than they weren't accepted for who they were. That's a big deal."

Quoting the film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with the line "I gave you life so that you could live it," Johnston said it's all about parents accepting their children for the choices they make, and loving them no matter what.

Although he enjoys a terrific relationship with his parents, he said he wishes he could say the same for the bond with his brother.

"Close Kids" is garnering attention from churches, even if it's not written from a religious viewpoint. Johnston said he's looking into writing another version of the book with more religious content, as well as one specifically for children.

"If you look up siblings, you're going to get a million things on sibling rivalry," he said, "but everything is based in the present, and I was looking for something that was based in the future."

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