Dear Siblings Around the World,
Put down your dukes and bear with me for a minute.
I know your big brother probably pushed you in the mud again, or your younger sister once again ate your snacks without asking.
But before you go hitting them, pinching them, poking them, teasing them, or however you two handle conflict resolution, I'd like a few minutes of your time today to give you some important reminders and notes about being a sibling.
3 of them, to be exact.
If you are also a parent, you might find this article useful.
This time, as a younger brother who is no longer in touch with his older sister, I'd like to share my experience with a sibling and also provide you with my unique insights that can hopefully help you create a healthier, stronger bond with your brothers and sisters.
Note #1. Be there for each other. You're a team within the team that is your whole family.
I just mentioned that I'm no longer in touch with my older sister, so this might sound like a little contradictory on my part.
Allow me to explain with a bit of dive into my past.
My relationship with my sister growing up was a little fickle.
We were both children to a set of abusive parents.
While I thought this meant that she and I would form a stronger bond, a team against the tyrannical duo that was our mom and dad, she seemed to feel differently about it.
I haven't had the chance to really confirm how she perceived things or why she acted in the ways that she did, so bear in mind that a lot of what I'm saying when I try to explain my sister's actions and behaviors is speculation.
It's clear to me that between the two of us, my sister was even more meek and timid than I was.
She was more afraid of and dependent on our parents while I was more rebellious and resentful.
This shows in the fact that she's still in touch with them today while I'm not.
But while we were still under the same roof, for reasons I cannot explain, she acted resentful and irritated towards me, even though I was past the point of being the annoying teenage brother.
When things got bad at school and at home, I wanted her advice. I wanted her guidance, and for her to be there for me and for us. I even tried to console her when she was stressed out.
All she did in response was make herself unavailable, and treated the act of me coming to her door like a nuisance.
She acted annoyed whenever she ran into me at school and wanted me gone in the presence of her "friends."
The same "friends" who insulted me to her face, which she did nothing about.
This isn't to say that our relationship was entirely bad. Like I said earlier, it was fickle.
There were times when we made great memories together.
- We used to ride bikes and scooters outside on sunny days around the neighborhood.
- We'd play video games like Mario Kart and Wii Sports together.
- We'd pig out on snacks and junk food when we got to have sleepovers at our grandparents' house.
However, this mixture of hot and cold treatment wasn't pleasant enough to save the relationship.
I can't definitively explain why she made herself so distant towards me when I wanted us to be a team, but all I know is that she wasn't there for me.
Anyway, enough about my backstory. Here's where the note for you comes in:
Through thick and thin, be there for your sibling. You share a special bond with each other that no one else in the world is a part of.
Especially if you're an older sibling, your younger sibling might want you and look up to you more than you realize.
As with any healthy relationship, there's a give and take to both sides, and ideally, your younger sibling would be there for you too.
Your sibling might:
- Be getting picked on at school.
- Be struggling with their studies and homework.
- Have questions or concerns about dating and making friends.
And as a sibling, you are an excellent candidate for them to go to with their questions and problems in life.
This isn't to say that they should become entirely dependent on you, and that you should be okay with or even allow that.
But you do have a responsibility to make yourself available if they really need you.
If you push them away, especially for no reason, they may disconnect themselves entirely, even if you end up wanting them back.
They would rather have a reliable source of support, like themselves, than someone who should be there for them, but isn't.
I would know.
Note #2. You'll have your differences when you're younger, but you'll look past them when you're older.
You're two different human beings. Of course you're going to butt heads every now and then.
I'm going to lay out three examples of conflict and I want you to tell me what they all have in common:
- You and your brother are fighting over which restaurant the family goes to for dinner. Your brother wins the vote and you're furious that you have to eat pizza again instead of Korean BBQ.
- Your sister goes digging through your closet without asking to find something nice to wear when she hangs out with her friends tomorrow. On top of that, in her search, she leaves a mess. You plan on scolding her.
- It's your turn to have the Nintendo Switch since your brother played on it for the last hour, but he stirs up such a fuss when you try to take it away that you reluctantly let him hold onto it for longer while your anger stews.
Have you figured out what they have in common?
I'll tell you.
None of these conflicts will matter when you get older.
All these little things you spend so much time and energy arguing over now will mean nothing when you're both adults.
You think your brother holding onto the Switch for longer than he's supposed to is a big issue?
Let's see how it compares to when he comes to you for consolation after his divorce.
You think your sister going through your closet is the worst thing in the world?
Let's see how much it really matters when she gets evicted from her apartment without a place to stay.
Like I said earlier, in the end, you guys are a team.
You will have your disagreements, and adulthood won't make those disagreements vanish either.
But those little things that bother you now when you're younger don't mean squat.
When the adult world, the real world, hits either of you hard, you're going to know what is squat and what really matters.
And that's your bond with each other.
Note #3. Focus on making memories while you still can. You never know whose time comes first.
In our previous note, we touched upon some serious and stressful circumstances that can hit your bro or sis when you're both older.
But no circumstance is more dire, more eye-opening and awakening, than death.
Everything that has a beginning has an end, and one day, you're both going to kick the bucket.
You just don't know who's first in line.
Being older doesn't guarantee your time will come sooner either.
So before that time comes, your job, as teammates, as siblings, is to make memories while you still can.
Settle your differences.
Spend time together.
I'm not saying you have to be glued to your sibling. Especially when you're adults, it's natural for the gap between you two to widen.
You start your own families and move to different locations.
You get preoccupied with work and your own separate endeavors.
However, never forget to be one phone call away.
You don't want to be the sibling who only realizes how valuable their brother or sister is when you get the call that they are dying.
It's going to happen one day, to either you or them first.
And you only get the heads-up if you're lucky.
Some people don't get the news that their sibling is gone until after they're gone.
That can be a consequence of a severely damaged relationship and/or because they were in great pain and you weren't made aware of it, or you just didn't pay attention.
It can also be a consequence of sudden, unpredictable violence.
The point is, you don't know what kind of things life is going to throw at you or when.
So, make the most of your time with each other that you can.
Take initiative and invite them to do something with you out of the blue.
Check in on them and make sure they're doing ok.
Like I said in my article about a best friend:
And that's what two good siblings are.