Sibling relationships. Am I the only one who struggles? I'm not buying the culture's standard that brothers and sisters simply "don't get along." I believe that if Christians are commanded to love one another, it most certainly should start at home. But it's hard.
Take to heart these words--they're phenomenal--It's going to be alright. Seriously, it is.
Whether you're privileged to be the oldest, or somewhere in between, sibling life is hard work! It takes a daily, conscious effort to be kind, much less build relationships. But listen, you will find that common ground of love. You will try and fail, but then you have to get up and try again. You may not do it right for years. And that's OK. Don't compare, don't give in, overcome the doubts floating in your head of "it's too difficult" or "I'll never be good enough."
Your brothers and sisters will one day recognize you made a daily effort, and will love you all the more. Because it is the deepest example of love. That you didn't get frustrated but kept pursuing them.
Through trial and error (lots of that going on mostly) these are some things I've observed and learned from living with an older brother:
(And so you guys can return the same treatment...I made a special section for you!)
Do's with Brothers:
- Praise them for simple tasks like taking the trash out. They feel it is meaningless until they are valued for it.
- Brag on their gifts in front of others. Even if it's their yard cutting skills.
- As brothers advance into manhood, make them feel masculine. Tell them how strong they are, what big muscles they have, and find ways to tell them how much you appreciate them being a man. I tell you, it swells their chests for a week.
- Embrace what they love. Even if it's working out or music that you may not just love the beat to.
- Find something you both enjoy to do together. For my brother and me, it's the movies and dancing. This is especially meaningful if his love language is quality time. (Suggestion: Find out his love language....it really helps.)
Don't's with Brothers:
- At all costs, and no matter the age, it works to great advantage to refrain from telling brothers what to do. The privilege of asking comes as the relationship builds.
- Belittling brothers in front of your friends or their friends, sets the relationship way back. Because it tells them you don't value or honor them, and you just showed it to the world.
- Don't ridicule their fashion choices. When in history have you changed someone's opinion by stating YOUR opinion? It doesn't work in politics, and it won't start working in relationships.
- Don't find a 'nice' way of telling them how to be better. Just don't.
Do's with Sisters:
- Notice! Honestly. This small nugget of gold will save many a hurt feelings. Notice her hair, especially when it's a new style! Notice how feminine she is and compliment. Nothing drives a girl to continue being feminine more than her brother(s) encouraging that.
- Brag about her cooking. Or artwork, or business skills, or musical gifts.
- Frequently hug your sister(s). We love it when our brothers stop a moment to be affectionate. Guys you are no less masculine when tender. Tenderness is a big deal to your sisters.
- Let her know you are her protector. It warms our hearts to know our brother(s) will stand up for us in words or actions.
- Do a chore unexpectedly. Or shove her out of the kitchen during cleanup. The universal complaint against guys is that they don't notice housework that needs done. Surprise us.
- Dig into our souls. Come sit on our bed and really learn about our day, opinions, feelings. You have strengths we don't. The beautiful part of relationships is to strengthen one another.
"Do small things with great love." Anon
Don't's with Sisters:
- Complain about how few socks you have. Really, we do our best. But dad comes first in the sock department. Not happy with that? Grow up and find a wife. :)
- Don't start a sentence with "I wish you would"
- Don't always insist you are right. (This especially hurts if you are younger than us.) We want to know you value our opinions...always being right doesn't cut it.
- Don't poke at our quirks...especially in front of us and your friends.
- Don't go to bed angry at us with no resolve. It totally robs our beauty sleep.
Through the tough journey of sibling relationships, remember to give yourself grace. And give the other person grace. It's OK to mess up. We aren't failures even if we've stunk at this for years. It is never too late, and nothing is ever impossible, with God's grace.
"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." Psalm 84:11