Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cultivating SIbling Relations

You have the Opportunity to make the best friends of your life.  Your siblings will always know you better than your friends because they see you day in and day out, good days and bad.  They are the people you don't put a good face on for.  Your friends will come and go, but your family will be there every day of your life.  Don't waste the opportunity.    Below is a list of tips to help you make the most of your friendships with siblings, along with some of my personal experiences and findings.  If you have any ideas I'd LOVE to hear them!

  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Rule #1 in cultivating ANY relationship.  Ask yourself "Would I like it if my brother said this to me?"  "What could my sister do that would totally make my day?"  And then DO it!

  • Learn to cook
It has long been my philosophy that the way to ANYONE'S heart is through their stomach.  It's something of a family joke.  I have fond memories of my 3 year old brother coming running into the kitchen the minute he heard me start to cook and then climbing up on a chair to watch the entire process saying "yum, yum" the whole time.  Now that's devotion.  :)  The sweet thing is that that same brother (who is now 15) has developed a similar interest in the kitchen... er, FOOD and we now bond over cooking together.  :) 

Feeding people is one of my favorite ways to take care of them.  And everyone LOVES the hand that feeds them.  :)

Plus, you will have the wonderful advantage of being able to make them they're favorite food when they've had a rough day (or week... or month).  There's a lot of truth in the phrase "Comfort Food."  (In Katie's case this is Chocolate Chip Pancakes, just FYI) :)

  • Give them privacy

Growing up in a big family privacy was a treat.  I CRAVED my privacy.  I was jealously protective of it.  We need to realize that our other siblings feel the same way. 

  • Listen
One sure fire method of making people not like you is to ignore them when they're talking.  Have you ever had this happen?  You're talking to someone and before you're done they've either lost interest and walked away, or turned to someone and started talking.  It's happened to me.  And, it didn't make me super excited about starting another conversation with that person, either.  Be available.  Listen.  Take what they have to say seriously.  Or, humorously, if they're telling a joke. :)  (This is especially useful with little brothers.  If they tell a joke, LAUGH.  Even if you totally didn't get the punch line, because they told it in the wrong place, or forgot it altogether, or ONLY told you the punch line and forgot the rest of the joke.) :)

  • Share
While I am a firm believer in the sanctity of personal space and respecting other people's belonging, I also believe that there's a trust and comradery that grows out of sharing.  By this I do NOT mean that you should look at your siblings belongings as your own.  My personal pet peeve is people borrowing my books.  Without ASKING.  Oh boy.  I'm completely willing to lend my books to siblings.  But, I prefer them to ask first.  :)  So, maybe I'm still working on the sharing thing.  :) 

  • Find common ground and build on it
You must have SOMETHING in common.  You have the same genes!  You probably have a LOT more in common with your siblings than you think you do.  Find something, no matter how small it may seem and make the most of it.  My sisters and I enjoy doing many things together, but we haven't always been that way.  We've learned from spending oodles of time together what similar interests we have.  And we make sure to make time to do things together that we all enjoy. 

  • Depend on them
Learn their strengths and show them you depend on them.  I live with two of my sisters in the bottom floor of a house.  And I'll be the first to admit that they have strengths I do NOT.  For instance, I'm completely thumbs when it comes to doing anything "handy."  Stephanie and Katie have installed light switches, hung curtain rods, fixed windows and doors and I don't know what all...  They're my "little" sisters, but I've come to terms with the fact that they are always going to be bigger and stronger and better at that kind of thing than I am.  My 15 year old brother knows more about computers than I do, even though I've been using a computer since before he was born... 

  •  Ask for their help
This goes right along with 'Depend on Them.'  I love feeling useful.  Most people do. 
  • Laugh together
Have inside jokes.  It's totally ok. 

  • Remember the good times and try to forget the bad
If you live with someone for most of your life, you're GOING to have little squabbles.  It's bound to happen.  The trick is to let the hurts go.  Concentrate on the good things, instead of holding onto grudges. 

  • Don't hold grudges
Don't hold grudges.  It's so important.  If your sibling said something that hurt you, let them know that it hurt.  And if they apologize, accept it and let it go at that.  There's nothing worse than a squabble in which someone brings up a 10 year old grievance. 

In my line of work (flower shop) I deal with a lot of families who have recently lost loved ones.  One thing I've noticed is that grief brings out the best or the worst in a family.  Some families come into the shop to order flowers and can't stop fighting.  Others rally together and console each other.  Do your best to make your family one that sticks together in tough situations and grows closer because of them.


Melanie July 21, 2009 at 10:55 AM  

Thank you, Rebecca, for the excellent tips. My older sister and I have always had a pretty good relationship, but it's always been harder with my younger sister, and I know that it is mostly my fault, since I started off not interested in her interests, not listening, not caring about what SHE would like to do, and always making sure she knew I was the older sister. I'm trying to change that now, but years of habit are hard to break and a ruined reputation is hard to restore. :-/ But we are working on it, and I will keep your tips in mind to build a better relationship. :-)
P.S. Your first point-- do unto others as you would have them do to you-- was very timely because my pastor just preached about that on Sunday! One thing I had never thought of was that obeying that command involves initiative-- not just avoiding hurts from others, but actively DOING for them what you'd have them do to you. :-) Thanks again. :-)

Hannah January 13, 2010 at 6:14 PM  

Wow, I totally missed this post! Thank you Becca! I needed it just now. God has really been laying on my heart the need to build a better relationship with my brothers still at home.

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