Last month I wrote about five ways big sisters can be a blessing to their siblings, which was published over on the blog for HEAV (click here to read Part One). It was full of examples of things I have tried to do regularly to have a close relationship with my siblings. Because really and truly, my siblings are pretty awesome people and I love growing up with them and even seeing them grow up. This week, I want to finish off with five more ways. I hope you find it to be fabulous fun and help you to get your creative juices flowing, because siblings are good at being fun. 😉
6. Make messes with them. No matter how old they are. I have siblings in pretty much every age range. From 18-years-old to 20 months. Making messes doing fun stuff is something that many people have a blast doing. Older ones can help you make a mess in the kitchen. My sisters and I do our best bonding time while giggling in the kitchen baking. Don’t be afraid of messes. Just as long as you clean up when you’re done. I have made all sorts of messy activities for my baby brothers to do. From soapy water in a cake pan with cars as a “car wash”, to giving them a scoop of flour and a whisk in their high chair. Messes are So. Much. Fun. for kids. But like I said, just make sure you clean it all up when you’re done!
- Encourage them. You live with them, so you will be able to tell pretty quickly what they need encouragement in. It could be they could use a word of encouragement if they have a bad day at work, or struggling to study for a difficult science test. There could be a conflict between two siblings and you could take each aside and give them a word of encouragement. Always speak in love and kindness. If it doesn’t seem to be working, then gracefully bow out for now and wait for them to cool off. Make it a point to go back to them later on and let them know that you love them. I mentioned it earlier, but pray for them! Ask them if there is anything specific they want prayer for. You would be surprised how grateful someone can be just that someone is thinking about them enough to want to pray for them.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
- Do something to serve them. This requires you to go out of your way to find something that you can do for someone else. Serving them really should be done daily, but I am far, far from even “doing okay” at this. I have thought of this one many times but have always let it slip through the cracks. Serving someone is showing them that they are important to you. That you love them so much, you are willing to do something for them and they don’t have to return the favor. Never look at this as something to hold over their head, “I did this for you so you have to do something for me now.” That is missing the point. Last year my younger sister worked full time as a daycare worker at our church’s school. She shares a room with my next-younger sister. As a result of the one working so much, the task to take care of the room and keep it clean usually fell on the other sister; and she does a fantastic job of keeping it neat and clean. One time she came to me frustrated that she was always the one to do the work. She was frustrated that it was always her that kept the room clean. I told her that I understood her frustration, but to try to look at it as a way to serve our other sister. Keeping the room clean was something she did so well, and it was also a service to the sister she shared the room with. Serving someone else isn’t always fun, but it is a necessary thing in order to truly love them.
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” – Galatians 5:13
- Brag about them to others – even your parents! From the time I was little I can remember my mother telling me that she never, ever complains or bashes her husband or children to others when she is with a group of people. Over the years I have witnessed this. I spend a lot of time with my mom and her friends and when one starts complaining about their husband or child it starts an avalanche and soon everyone starts – except my mom. Never. In stead, she takes opportunities to sing our praises and talks about what a wonderful hubby she has. She turns it around from the norm of negativity to the Christ-honoring positivity. That is something we as big sisters need to embed in our hearts and minds. NEVER complain about family to others and ALWAYS sing their praises. Make it a point to even sing their praises to our parents. While they already know that their children are awesome, it is really nice to hear their siblings talk about how awesome one of their children is. This is also good practice for any family relationship you will have in the future, be it your husband or your own child.
- Always, ALWAYS listen to them. You don’t have a choice about who your siblings are, but you have the choice of making them your friends. Make them your best friends. Listen to them when they want to talk with you. That is one of my biggest regrets. I never listened to my siblings very well when I was younger. But now that I am older I see the importance of just being a friend to let them talk to when they are in a tough spot with a friend, or even someone to bounce ideas off of. You have nothing in common with them? Good. I don’t either with some of my siblings. Learning to make yourself interested in what they want to talk with you about really and truly is a valuable life-skill. Start cultivating it with your siblings. If you keep shutting them off because it doesn’t interest you, eventually they will stop coming to you. I know from personal experience. But I have been trying more to listen anyway. Usually it leads to discussions, which lead to several different topics, and eventually you will start talking about something that interests you. Don’t give up. I remember one night two of my siblings started talking (about several different things and I honestly don’t remember what started it) and I just sat down and joined them, eventually one more came in, and then another and eventually all of us (except the youngest few who were in bed by then) were in a bedroom, powwowing on the floor, and talking about everything from what we heard in church on Sunday to how fast Lamborghinis can run (the oldest boy in our family is convinced he will own one someday). It was a truly special time that we all spent together talking literally for hours. We all don’t exactly agree on everything, but it was so neat for us to discuss important things – as well is a funny things – together as siblings. It is a great time to learn from them (yes, as an oldest sibling it is still possible to learn something from your younger siblings) and understand how they think.
Being a sister doesn’t have to be a chore. It is hard, but it is so worth it. I want to encourage you to not just survive these years you have with your siblings, but make them count and thrive during your time with them. Strengthen your relationships with each of them and build them up through prayer, encouragement, and a servant’s heart. If you, like me, have several siblings, learning to not only get along with their different personalities but also to love them and learn to work well with them will be invaluable practice for working with so many different people you will meet in the world. It is also the best training you can get for being a mother someday.
“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
–Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)