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Historian and author Allan Carlson includes “the right to siblings” in a list of things that children truly need. These “children’s rights,” enumerated in a 2001 speech at a World Congress of Families meeting, include: (1) the right to a mother; (2) the right to a father; (3) the right to a home built on marriage; (4) the right to siblings, brothers and sisters; (5) the right to ancestors; (6) the right to a posterity through future children of their own; (7) the right to religious faith; (8) the right to live in a healthy, vital community; (9) the right to innocence; and (10) the right to a tradition.

In sum, not only do children need brothers and sisters, but every family tree needs a bounty of aunts, uncles and cousins. The fewer bare branches, the better.

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at