No one on earth knows how to push your buttons like a brother or sister. They know your greatest fears, biggest pet peeves and annoying habits. Chances are they’ve used that information against you a few times!
Their knowledge about you might be dangerous at times, but it’s also the foundation for a quality sibling relationship. If left untended, relationships with brothers and sisters may suffer from bitterness, anger, resentment and jealousy. But if these relationships are watered with attention and care, siblings can become your best friends. If you want to improve your relationships with your siblings, start with the tips below.
1. Communicate, don’t confront.
How we handle communication with our siblings reveals what’s going on in our hearts. Since we have nothing to gain from or prove to our siblings, we don’t bother putting up the typical façade of courtesy. Who we are at home is who we are. Because of this, the communication patterns you use with your immediate family will be the same patterns that characterize your future marriage.
Instead of confronting your siblings with anger when you are wronged, learn to communicate with respect and kindness. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” Make a habit of communicating with gentleness and humility and all your relationships will improve.
2. Respect their boundaries.
You probably don’t like it when your sister borrows your favorite shirt without asking. If you want respect of your room, belongings, time and opinions, you must offer that same respect to her. By respecting your siblings’ interests and opinions, you lay the groundwork for the improved communication discussed in point number one.
Respect multiplies, so if you give it willingly (even when your siblings might not deserve it), they are far more likely to respect you and your belongings in the future.
3. Be inclusive.
As the oldest of six kids, I sometimes was tired of having “tagalongs” with my friends. I wanted to do Big Kid things—without little brothers and sisters following me everywhere! Years later, I can’t imagine excluding my siblings from the fun times we have together. Though I used to roll my eyes when my parents said, “Your siblings will be your best friends,” that’s exactly what they are.
Your siblings don’t have to do everything with you, but your attitude should be one of inclusion. No one likes to feel left out. The Golden Rule is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This command calls us to show others the kind of welcome we would want to receive—even our siblings.
4. Give compliments.
Speaking kindness over people takes practice. For many of us, it doesn’t come naturally. This is particularly true with your immediate family, whose flaws you see every day. Our natural inclination is to focus on our siblings’ flaws, but instead, consider their talents, skills and strengths. Take notice of what they do well, not just what they do poorly.
As you reach out with kindness by giving compliments, your siblings’ attitudes will improve toward you as well. Love and respect grow as one person takes the first step toward an improved relationship.
5. Treat them like a friend.
Back to my parents’ favorite line: “Your siblings will be your best friends.” If you have trouble believing that, today is the day to begin transforming your sibling relationships! Show the love and respect you would like to receive. Offer to include your brother or sister in your next outing. Don’t yell; communicate calmly when you have a disagreement. The habits you put in place with your siblings will become part of your character for the rest of your life. How you communicate with them influences how you communicate in your career, in your marriage and with your own future kids.
You can’t control how your siblings respond to you. Your actions are the only ones within your jurisdiction. But God sees our every effort to love the people around us, and He blesses that! By choosing to show love to your siblings, you can glorify God and spread His gospel love without ever leaving home.