Have you ever considered that you are someone’s brother or sister for the longest period of your life?
What this means is...
Let’s take a fictional example, starting from the same premises in our calculation.
Your parents married when they were 25 years old, at 30, they had you and at 35 they had your brother or sister. You get married when you’re 25. At 30, you have your first child and then the other. All the characters in this example die at 80.
In conclusion, you are your parents’ child for 50 years, a spouse for 55, a parent for 50, and brother or sister... for 75 years.
Of course, there are many exceptions from the above example, but, in general, this is how it goes... so now do you understand what I mean?
The longest period of your life is spent being someone’s sister or brother... So then, why are there so many quarrels and conflicts between brothers?
If you have a brother or a sister, you have a friend forever. This is where your new relationship with your siblings starts. It is up to you to make this into an excellent, lifelong relationship. And if not excellent, then at least good and mandatory decent.
It is very important for you to have a close relationship with your siblings starting with childhood. This will maintain and develop towards adulthood, but if the foundation is not correctly guided by the parents, it is hard to recover it, if not impossible.
Most frequently, from the youngest age, jealousies arise. From toys to parents’ affection, food or the gift received at your wedding... you can start to be jealous over anything. So, it is foremost the parents’ responsibility to prevent rivalry between siblings. If, however, they didn’t succeed... from now on it becomes your responsibility to nurture your relationship with your brothers and sisters. The Bible offers many examples of sibling relationships that started off on the wrong foot because of jealousy. One of them is the story of Joseph and his brothers; another one is that of Jacob and Esau. What is amazing about these narratives is the happy ending - an ending based on forgiveness and reconciliation. Unfortunately, the very first Bible story about siblings raises awareness on the importance of a balanced and loving relationship between brothers.
Here are a few principles to consider about your own relationship with your brother or sister:
There are some rules to establish a healthy relationship. One can include deciding not to use bad words, not to disclose secrets, not to hold grudges, to communicate complaints clearly and promptly when the case, to respect each other’s intimacy etc.
Negotiate. Even more than in a romantic couple, negotiation is a key part of any sibling relationship. Therefore, learn how to communicate your point of view respectfully, in order to reach consensus. In a relationship, being right is not the most important, but to make the other feel loved and respected. Whatever loss you might feel when compromising will prove beneficial to your relationship in the long run.
Take time to spend together. In some parts of the world, in May, people celebrate “Sibling day”. Siblings meet once a year to celebrate a day together, just them... without the rest of the family. Maybe sometimes this is hard to be done when you are adults, have families and perhaps children, but a day in a year can be scheduled for this beautiful tradition. Make a habit of celebrating days together, maybe from time to time plan vacations together and, if you’re still at your parents’ home, take time to talk, to understand each other’s dreams and worries. This ongoing communication and the activities spent together are the safest ways to strengthen the relationship between siblings.
Make a habit of surprising your brother or sister with a loving gesture or a kind word.
Never talk badly about your siblings, not even in front of your parents. You don’t have to hide or be accomplice to their mistakes, but you would be spreading gossip in order to win points with your parents, by insulting your brothers.
Acknowledge that you’re different. Even if you’re siblings and you have many things in common, there are still factors that make you unique. So, accept that you cannot think the same, respect each other’s different personalities and try to understand each other. Don’t behave like you can read their mind or guess their intentions. Let them express themselves and don’t be surprised to realize that you have different points of view, maybe even different principles in life, opposite expectations and accomplishments, despite growing up with the same parents. Avoid comparing yourself with your siblings. At a certain point in life you will go on separate ways because situations and occasions are different, choices are different... so do not always compare yourself with your brother or sister when evaluating your success or failure.
Plan together nice surprises for your parents. This will unite you and will give you a strong feeling of belonging. No matter how disappointed you are, in school or wherever you are, the fact that you know family is united can give you a long-term comfort.
The most beautiful gift your parents could give you is a brother or a sister... or more. The Bible says about how valuable friendship is, but none compares to the one of a brother. “The real friend loves at any time, but in tragic moments he becomes a brother” (Proverbs 17:17).