Brothers and sisters are one of the few people in our lives who will be with us the longest. They are there when we were children and they will likely be around when we’re old and gray. Nearly 80% of us have a sibling, and for many of us, the bonds—whether good or bad—formed in childhood follow us into adulthood. We often think there’s a demarcation line between our childhood and adulthood. But sibling relationships don’t stop when we leave home.
I remember my brother shooting me in the arm with an air soft gun when I was younger. I also remember all the times he asked me to sing for him just because he loves when I use my “Opera voice”. As we have gotten older and began our journey into “adulthood “ I have tried to keep our relationship as close as possible. Sometimes I fail at this and don’t talk to him for weeks, other times he is the only person I call to!
But for many families, navigating the waters of adult relationships with brothers and sisters can be tricky. For example, stories of brothers and sisters fighting over wills and having unresolved childhood hurts that harm present-day interactions abound. Many siblings will grow old with the constant regret of not fixing their sibling relationships!
Whether you have a fantastic relationship with your siblings as adults or one that needs improvement, there are 6 ways brothers and sisters can help their interactions with one another flourish, instead of flounder.
1. Recognize the importance of siblings. Our brothers and sisters are an integral part of our lives, and even if our interactions as adults hasn’t been healthy, they still had a great impact on making us who we are today. These are our first relationships—and thus some of the most formative—of our lives, No one will know or understand like our siblings where we came from and what shaped us.
Your siblings know the real you. There isn’t anything quite as comforting as being loved for who you are versus who someone thinks you should be or could be.
2. Acknowledge God’s hand in your family. Whether you grew up in a Christian home or not, accepting that God placed you in your family with your siblings is very important. Christian families are to model God’s relationship with humans, much as the church should. So when non-Christians see siblings that treat each other badly, why would they want to know Christ?
3. Keep the bond strong. Like any relationship, we must take care to nurture ours with siblings. Frequent interactions will help to keep us connected with our brothers and sisters. Me and my brother both had a rough time fitting in at school, and because of that each fell in with the wrong crowd. Having survived the treacherous waters of high school, we grew closer since we both roughly went through similar things.
4. Embrace the differences. Some characteristics will never change, and while we should expect growth—and experience it ourselves!—we shouldn’t presume a total personality change is going to happen, either. My parents didn’t think I was going to talk when I was a baby because my brother would do all of it for me. I have developed my own standing ground since then, but I am still silent when I should be loud, and he helps me stand up for myself.
5. Accentuate the positive. We all have our good qualities and our not-so-good ones. When thinking of your brothers and sisters, focus on the positive, rather than the negative. Look for the positives in them, even if it means going back to early childhood to find them.
6. Work together. As I’ve found out recently, having my brother can lighten the load when helping your parents in their twilight years. As our parents grow older, I’m thankful to know my brother will be available to help make decisions and absorb changes as they come.
Overall, we should keep foremost in our mind the call to love one another, especially those God has put in our lives as part of our family. Be intentional about having a relationship with your brothers and sisters, When all is said and done, you want to be able to say you did all you could to have a healthy relationship with them.