Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What I Think About--Sibling Relationships

In the newest edition of my favorite magazine there is an article on how to stay close with your siblings.  You can read it here.  It's a charming little Top 10 article that made me laugh (actually I was reading this while bathing the kids and fell off the potty in a fit of hysterics--lid was down--when I read one in particular ... I'm not divulging which one!).  On a side note, my kids still think I'm crazy.

Its no secret that I struggle in some relationships.  Who doesn't?  Let me give you some background (on at least one of them).

For about 20 years of my life I wished I was an only child.  I have one older sister and she's a real nightmare.  Really.  5'10", 115 pounds.  Luminous skin. Clear blue eyes. Perfect reddish hair. Funny.  Smart. A social butterfly.  Did I mention she's drop dead gorgeous?  And if people didn't love her because she was breath-taking, then they were taken with her sweet nature, good-humor and amazing fashion sense.  Egads.  I'm not kidding you when I say that growing up people always told her, "You should be a model."  (These same people would tell me, "maybe you could be a teacher").  You get the point.

Middle school is hard enough without the town's hottest chick being your uber likable big sister.  I can't count the number of times I cursed my bad luck that I (the over-opinionated, frumpy, mousey-blond hair geek with a bad attitude) had to follow in her footsteps.

My big sister, Randean with my nephew Kaeden.  
I say this with no malice. She dyes her hair.



But then we grew up.  Now I think, what would I do without her?  On days when I don't think I'll make it through another tantrum, she understands.  When I'm angry with my mom's disease, she gets it.  When I need to vent, she listens.  When I need to laugh, she can make me.  When I need to cry (which is almost never), she pretends she understands my non-sense blubber talk.  We have not had a perfect relationship but I can't count the number of reasons I'm grateful that she is a part of my life.

She's my best friend.

In honor of my sister, I'm responding to the author of "How to Stay Close to Your Siblings."  If you don't understand the stuff in italics, that's cool. It's for my sister Randean anyway. (I know what you are thinking.  Their parents named them Randean and Reagan? Tell me about it.  My mom's name is Rilda.  Does that help explain things?)

  1. Childhood is like Vegas. Let what happened there stay there. When it comes to petty fights or embarrassing moments, I couldn't agree more. But if you can all look back and get a kick out of a memory, I say, "why not reminisce?" In that same line of thinking, if there is a deep-seated unresolved issue, I think it needs to be addressed.  Remember fighting over how to wear eyeliner?  We can laugh about that now, right?  We'll save "eating our beans" for another day ...
  2. Make a cameo appearance.  I agree with the author that if you want to be close to your family you need to spend purposeful time together.  By the way, purposeful means beyond token holidays and celebrations.  Get together for the heck of it.  Skype date?
  3. Stop being the family mole.  In essence, stop gossiping behind family members' backs.  Luckily my family is small and direct enough that we pretty much just say what we mean (this doesn't mean we are totally healthy in the way we address conflict but at least we yell at the source of our problem rather than ignoring each other or yelling at our mom because of something the other did!  We are our own brand of dysfunctional and we all function well in it. How scary is that?).  And all I can say is, AMEN to the no-mole business.  Do I have a story for you--j/k!
  4. Mind your manners.  Remember how you treat strangers with respect?  Do the same thing to your family.  If you wouldn't scream at Joe Schmoe for eating the last cookie, don't scream at your sibling.  And if you'd forgive a friend for posting a bad photo of you on their blog (twice), forgive your sibling.  Sorry about that whole mullet thing. Both times.
  5. Fight Typecasting.  Every family has the "baby" and the "favorite" child.  But really, no family does.  We all grow up so if you still think your parents like your brother better, it might be time for you to put on your big girl panites and get over it.  (If you are still acting like a baby, see my previous comment).  Give your siblings kudos for growing up and changing.  Give your parents credit for doing the best job they could. You might be hotter but I have prettier nails.  Na na na na na na!
  6. B Gr8 Txt Frnds.  On the surface, I agree with this. Texting is a quick method to communicate.  But I think you should really make an effort to share your time with your siblings.  Yes, that sometimes means talking on the phone.  Luckily my sister and I don't struggle with this.  Ask our husbands and they'll tell you how important it is to have a land line with unlimited long distance.  I'll call you when the kids are down for quiet time.  Unless I need you before then.
  7. Quit being jealous of other people's sibling relationships.   Remember my post about chick-flicks not being real?  TV/Movie sibling relationships aren't real either.  So if your family doesn't get along like the Family Stone or the Cosbys, that's cool.  Love your family for who they are and for who you are when you're with them.  Our relationship puts the fun in dysfunctional but I wouldn't have it any other way!
  8. Play nice with your brother's (not so nice) spouse.  It always pays to be the bigger person (repeat as necessary).  Go the distance and never give your in-law the opportunity to say you didn't love, didn't reach out, didn't share or didn't try.  Heap burning coals (and if you have no idea what I'm talking about, check here.)  Thanks for marrying Jeff.  With a body like that who needs hair?   
  9. Get out of dodge. Okay to be honest, the idea of vacationing with my sibling, without our children, sounds dreamy.  Add in the husbands and kids and I say, no thanks.  (At least not for long trips). The November extravaganza is on but hopefully you understand if we skip the trip to Alaska!
  10. Avoid hot-button topics (politics, religion, high fructose corn syrup).  In general families know who can handle what discussions.  Don't stir the pot if you want to stay close to your family.  On the other hand, don't be afraid to have important discussions about your relationships. If someone's words or actions are hurting someone else the worst thing you can do is walk on egg shells and pretend you're okay.  False peace is just that.  False.  I must caution you to approach the issue directly, in love, and Biblically (go directly to the person--remember no family moles!) Don't even get me started.
Randean and her hubbins Jeff.  By now you understand what I went through as a kid.  


Can I add two more? Of course I can.  It's my blog :)

  1. Don't give up.  Sometimes sibling relationships are awesome.  Sometimes they suck.  Sometimes they make you wish that you were an only child (or that your spouse was an only child).  But FIGHT for your relationships.  They are worth every ounce of blood, sweat,  and tears you pour into them.  In the end, you end up with the people from your beginning.  Thanks for hangin' in there during the bad years.  All 20 of 'em.
  2. Forgive.  If you are still hanging onto some hurt, forgive.  If you've hurt a family member with your words or actions, seek forgiveness.  Nothing destroys a relationship faster than someone who refuses to seek or accept forgiveness.  Remember that forgiveness breaks the cycle of isolation and retaliation.  I apologize for what I said that time we had a fight at The Outback.  



What do I think about sibling relationships?  They can be amazing and are worth the work!

Have a sibling relationship that could use some work?  E-mail me and when I say I'll pray for you, I mean it!

Have a sibling relationship that sustains you?  Tell me about it.  Today's comment line is yours to celebrate a sibling memory or moment.

12 comments:

  1. My brothers and I aren't super close. My younger brother is in a different stage of his life. My older brother- we can talk, but I actually get along with his wife better. It's harder now to get together because I moved far away from them. :(

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  2. I love that you are willing to address issues in your family. My family is quite the opposite. We hold it all in until someone blows up and doesn't speak for a few months. Sad, I know. It doesn't happen often, though.

    I have 1 older sister and 2 younger brothers. My oldest sister and I have gone through rough times, but all in all we've been each others rock. We were each others supporters when my parents went through their divorce when we were young and I think one of the best things that came out of that was the bond that was created between the two of us. I don't know what I'd do without her.

    My 22 yr. old brother and I have a strained realationship and to be honest, I'm not really even sure why. I think he's just very bitter about a lot of things. But, because he lives far away in Alaska, and keeps being deployed to Irag and Afgan, we haven't been able to really address the issue. We sort of just 'sweep it under the rug'. It's not just me, though, he has issues with just about everyone in the family. I think he's sort of disowned us in a way. It breaks my heart because he doesn't know how much he's loved.
    Wow, should save all this for therapy or something, huh? LOL! :)

    I think these relationships in our lives are very important and perhaps we are supposed to learn something great through the trials of them. Every family has issues and I think it's important that they be addressed to save the relationships in them.

    Great blog today! It has made me think... I need to be praying more about this. I'm glad you and your sister were able to grow up and become friends and learn to appreciate each other!

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  3. Wow--what happened to the formatting?!?!

    @Shell--I'm sorry you aren't close with your siblings--emotionally or in distance. I'm grateful you are close with your SIL. I hope that through your relationship with her your relationship with your older brother will grow. Who knows? Good luck and I am praying.

    @Amy--I praise God that you and your sister are close and I'll pray for your younger brother. Really that's the best thing to do in these sort of situations, I suppose. My family is pretty good at calling a spade a spade. My husband's family is more the "pretend everything is okay" crowd (despite some pronounced dysfunction). All I can do there is pray too and leave it up to God and the leadership of Matt.

    The truth is that I believe sibling relationships can be the best thing ever but honestly, if it's a one way street, the relationship will never bear much fruit. But through it all, I believe and trust that God is working.

    Thanks for sharing. And BTW, blog besties are free therapy :)

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  4. Thank you, for the amazing post and for ruining my makeup (although, Mother Nature making a splashing appearance after a year and a half might have something to do with my overly sensitive emotions today). I am very honored and praise God that He chose to make us sisters. We definitely have had some rough patches but I think that they have made us that much closer. And, even though I am the big sister, you are my inspiration and my hero and I learn so much from you. I love you big castle and truly cherish our bond and friendship.

    PS: Although I am not too happy about the mullet pictures, I know that it was all in fun. I promise not to take any passive-aggressive action in retaliation, ie: cyber-stalking you. I FORGIVE YOU!! There, now we can move on.

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  5. Randean--Thanks for forgiving me. It's cosmogorical!

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  6. Nice post, Reagan!

    My relationship with my brother was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to have another child after Elijah. (one of many reasons) My brother & I are about as different as they come. I think we are opposite on about every issue & behavior out there...but we love each other and have a bond of friendship that will last a lifetime! Through a rough late childhood & teenhood, we were always there for one another. I know he would do anything for me and I feel the same way. Even though our life circumstances and geography don't currently allow us to hang out often, when we do we always have a blast.

    Aww...I'm feeling all sentimental now and this didn't help my nagging thoughts that I'm trying to avoid about moving back to Cheyenne (where he lives).

    Thanks for the post. I'm so glad you & your sister are so close now. Beautiful!

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  7. @Shelly--Thanks for sharing. A move to Cheyenne? Sounds intriguing (at least in a selfish way!)

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  8. Well I have a strained relationship with my sister sometimes because she is still a teenager (ten years younger than I) We don't see eye to eye on many issues. I love her, I spoiled her when she was younger like she was my first child LOL. Anyway I have a brother 3 years younger that lives in a different state but we get along great. We have childhood issues since my dad was a drinker and yeller ect. Trying to resolve them by the grace of God.

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  9. AmberRay--Thanks for stopping by this morning. I'm so glad to hear you and your brother are close (even with--or maybe because of--childhood problems). I've had several friends with siblings much younger than they (my bestie and her youngest are like 16 years or so apart) and I'm sure it is a difficult relationship--probably like mom and daughter?? I'll pray!

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  10. Growing up my youngest sister was like my own kid. My parents divorced when we were very young, and when we were at my dad's visiting I was like the mother figure. I took her under my wing and protected her. After she grew up and was in high school, she thought she was a big girl and didn't need her older sister protecting her, I didn't take to that very well. Now we are much closer. Sure she drives me nuts, but I love her and am so thankful that God made her my sister and my best friend.

    I was never close to my middle sister growing up, actually we hated each other. Now we are friends, but I wouldn't say that we are super close, I wish we were.

    I love both of my sisters and am very grateful that they're the ones God gave me!

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  11. I don't think there is enough space for me to go into deal on my siblings! LOL. Long story short, I'm one of 10 (this includes steps and halfs.) I am now very close to my only full sibling, my brother who is 5 years older than me. When we were younger he hated me and apologizes for it to this day. My siblings range in age between 49 to 6. Yeah, I have a brother who is 31 years younger than me! Each one of them holds a special place in my heart.

    I do have one half brother who I haven't seen in about 15 years. His mother was my 'evil step-mother', and she always turned him against me. Now that my father is no longer with her, I have not heard from him. I was never close to him, but my full brother was and I feel bad for his loss...

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  12. @Tina--WOW! Thanks for sharing. It is kind of hard for me to imagine 10 siblings--especially with such huge age gaps! I'm glad you and your full brother have gotten close again and I'll pray that you'll hear from your half brother in God's time ...

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