There are many things to do with siblings to help develop healthy relationships. And for young women who eventually want to get married and have children of their own, knowing how to take the time to invest in siblings – or if you are an only child invest in children around you at church – can be extremely beneficial for two reasons. One, your siblings are people who will be in your life – well, for life! Two, your relationship with your siblings speaks volumes about how you will treat others in various relationships throughout your life. It’s great, built-in practice! So, while looking for ways to strengthen my own relationships with my seven (soon to be eight!) siblings, I came up with a list of things that could help me improve in this area.
- Learn their interests and help your parents in supporting them. You and a sibling may be (probably will be?) complete opposites, but what they’re passionate about is important to them. If you support them in their passions and pursuits they will be appreciative of that and want to share them with you more and more, which is a great relationship building-block. I personally can relate to having a couple of siblings with which I don’t have a lot in common, and my mom is always reminding me of taking notice of what is important to them.
- Learn their love language. This one is so important! I have read that if a parent doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong, but loves their child in the “wrong way” that can actually seem un-loving to that child. The best example of this I can think of is personal touch, which is one of the languages. If that is not the child’s love language and you hug them or touch them often, they don’t think of it as affectionate. Crazy, right? These are things that not a lot of people think of, but taking the time to understand what speaks to them can make a huge impact. Learn about love languages by reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
- Pray for them. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, prayer is the best tool for anything. Yes, including your siblings. Pray for your relationship with them, for their relationship with God (which is even more important), and that He will show you an opportunity to show love to your sibling. Anther good thing to pray for would be that you take hold of the opportunities that He does present to you. There have been times where I see something I could have done but did not. Pray that God will help you to be faithful as you pursue a closer relationship with your siblings.
- Spend time with them. Offer to do something with them that you know they will enjoy. For me, my brothers love all things sports. So I can go out in our yard, toss a football or baseball around with them and build my relationship with them in a simple, relatively easy way. I enjoy doing this with them too, so it’s a win-win! My sisters will almost always go for a movie night and we have a tradition of a chic-flick with no-bake cookies (a family favorite) that we have done for as long as I can remember. Doing something fun doesn’t mean a lot of thinking and planning, just a little effort. Go out for some ice cream or take a trip to the park.
- If they ask for it, help them with something. This can fall under the “God has shown me something I can do” category. This happens all the time. Especially if you are an oldest sibling, or even just much older than that particular sibling. Taking hold of these opportunities is entirely up to you. And yes, they usually come at times when you are engrossed in that chapter, or working on a difficult project, or even when you are tired. This is one thing I try all the time to be better at…. and am still trying.
Anything worth while takes a lot of hard work, and this is no exception. Developing and even maintaining a strong relationship with your siblings is a daily choice you have to make. And often, you have to brush off all the little annoyances they may cause. But having siblings that love and cherish you is one of the best things in this world.
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” –Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)
“A brother is born to help in time of need.” –Proverbs 17:17b (NLT)