Oh, Brother! How to Strengthen Your Relationships with Your Siblings
The sibling relationship is a complicated one. You fight because you love them. You love them, so you fight.
Then, there’s the sibling rivalry. Sometimes, there’s sibling bullying (ugh). It’s a complex relationship unlike any other.
At the end of the day, you often makeup. Why? Because it’s family. Because you know everything from day one to now about each other. Because they are probably the most similar humans to you. After all, you had so many common experiences growing up. You learned about the world together.
How can you ensure you and your siblings maintain healthy relationships? And what family support can you expect? Actually, what do healthy families even look like?
Every family comes with their list of dysfunctions. It’s 100% normal. Thus, no two families look the same.
Those with positive sibling relationships report significantly higher life satisfaction, as well as lower rates of depression. They can further be your go-to for emotional support (I know my sister is - we actually get along better as adults than we ever did as kids!).
How Can You Maintain a Positive & Healthy Relationship with Your Siblings?
As adults, creating healthy families is a top priority - especially when you’re beginning to start your own. You realize the work involved and how important family truly is.
How can you make these relationships that much more special? Here are a few tips:
Hey, why not? My sister and I even did a 5-week trip to Europe together. It brought us way closer and we now have a ton of great and hilarious memories to recall and reminisce about together. Plus, if you both have kids, they can bond, creating their own sibling or cousin relationships this way.
- Bond with their kids
If your sibling has kids, why not offer to help out? Become the best aunt or uncle you can. It cuts them some slack and shows you really do care.
- Call each other
Who cares who called who last? If you haven’t touched base in a while (especially if you live in separate towns), call ‘em up! It’s called family support. Be there for each other. Why not find a weekend not far off in the near future to get together and catch up while you’re at it?
- Celebrate holidays or birthdays together
You aren’t forced to be at that family dinner for each other’s birthday together. But it’s still a great idea to include each other in these plans. It’s hard to get together as it is. Holidays and birthdays make it easy to gather your crew and fam in one room in one afternoon.
- Move past the past
What happened, happened. Forgive and forget. Or better yet, talk it out. Let your siblings have their turn saying their bit or perspective. Listen to each other. Sometimes, all you need is to hash it out in a heart-to-heart.
- Quit comparing
You’re different people. Accept that. And accept what makes you each unique. Compliment what you appreciate about each other. Learn to love it.
If you’re a parent, you can absolutely encourage positive and healthy sibling relationships within your own clan. How do you do that?
- Don’t show favoritism. This is the worst thing you can do. It builds resentment and it’ll absolutely encourage and promote sibling rivalry and bullying - which ultimately, you want to discourage. Treat all your kids equal, giving them the same opportunities. And make sure you pay equal attention and time to all of them. After all, they deserve it.
- Encourage respect between your kids. If you hear them calling each other names, don’t just ignore it. Intervene and make sure an apology is given when deserved. During the early years of a child’s life are the most important for development and learning. Teach them to treat others how they would want to be treated, including with their siblings.
- Partake in regular family meetings. I wish we had these growing up! Meetings where you can speak your mind and learn to communicate better would’ve not only helped in my childhood, but also translated over into adulthood. Now, I’m learning. But, the earlier, the better. A meeting gives everyone time to state any problems or upsets they may have with another family member. It clears the air and brings your family closer. In other words, family meetings could pave your way toward a happy and healthy family.
- Promote and facilitate healthy communication. This falls in-line with family meetings. In the case of disagreements, help your kids determine where to compromise, how, and why. Show them how both people can win. Yes, this is definitely a spot where a few household rules may help, especially for the younger age groups.
- Inspire your kids to play and learn together. My sibling and I used to play all kinds of games together as kids. If it was a rainy day, we often couldn’t go out and call on the neighbours. Thus, we’d end up playing hide and seek at home, or making up our own games. Our parents encouraged this. They’d make sure we stayed in the same room so they could easily keep an eye on us and thus, we were forced to play together - fostering that one-of-a-kind sibling relationship.
Get in Touch with Your Siblings Today!
Call them up. Share a life or a lunch together. You both come from the same womb and sibling relationships can prove to be your closest friendships.
If you’re a parent, foster that relationship and facilitate healthy communication with your kids early on. Stress the importance of family and respecting one another.
Here’s a friendly reminder: Healthy families aren’t perfect families. In fact, there’s really no such thing as a perfect family. We all come with our set of flaws and imperfections. But, guess what? That’s what makes you unique. These flaws and imperfections are where you and your family can learn and grow.
In today’s world, families come in all shapes and sizes. Appreciate yours and cherish those close sibling relationships. Be grateful for the family support and good times they offer.
Related Article: 5 Ways to Deal with Adult Sibling Rivalry