How can I learn to get along with my siblings?
Can brothers and sisters learn to get along? Can they become best friends? The answer to these questions is, yes!
Despite the challenges of maintaining healthy relationships, many families are finding that sibling harmony is possible. They discover that when brothers and sisters lovingly invest in their relationships, the resulting friendships are an incredible blessing.
Apply the following recommendations to strengthen your relationships with your siblings:
Recognize the Significance of Your Role
The role you have in your siblings’ lives is one that no one else can play. You are to them what no one else can be to them. Take the significance of your role seriously!
You can be a source of great good in your siblings’ lives by investing encouragement, praise, love, kindness, support, truth, forgiveness, and inspiration in your relationship. Or, you can be a source of hardship by acting selfishly and inflicting ridicule, mockery, strife, annoyance, deception, bitterness, and abuse in your relationship. Either way, your influence makes an indelible impression on your brothers and sisters.
In your relationship with your siblings, think of how you would like someone to treat you, and treat your brothers and sisters with the same honor and consideration. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them . . .” (Matthew 7:12).
Spend Time Together
A relationship deepens with the investment of quality time. Look for ways to include your brothers and sisters in your daily routines and weekly activities. Consider doing specific things together, such as Scripture memory, household chores, or volunteering at church or in the community. As you work toward a common goal together, you can build a solid relationship with one another.
Take time for recreation too. Think about the things you both enjoy, such as sports, board games, creative projects, outdoor activities, music, or good books. Are there things you can do together? Have fun with one another as you take time to be creative, learn new skills, and be refreshed.
Communication is a key component in all relationships. As you spend time with your brothers and sisters, talk together. Ask questions. Listen. Pay attention. Discuss what you are learning in school, at church, and in life. Learn to open up and share your heart with your siblings.
As you interact, abide by the Apostle Paul’s challenge to “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:29–30).
Appreciate Your Differences
You and your siblings will have many differences, even when you grow up in the same household. The distinctions of gender, age, personality, abilities, talents, skills, interests, spiritual gifts, and love languages among your siblings can provide you with opportunities to mature and learn to relate to others successfully.
Sometimes differences drive people apart, but those differences can often help you grow. Don’t be afraid of your differences. Instead, learn about them and learn from them. Try taking part in things that your siblings enjoy, and seek to understand their points of view. Find out what your brothers and sisters value most and what makes them feel special and appreciated.
As you learn to get along with your brothers and sisters and enjoy them, you are preparing for other relationships in the future. Be diligent to resolve conflicts with your siblings. As you do so, you will learn how to live in harmony with future co-workers, neighbors, and friends who will have characteristics similar to those of your siblings. Again, heed the words of the Apostle Paul, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
When you live with other people and have close relationships with them, you will see their character flaws and shortcomings. Likewise, they will see where you need to grow and mature. In these relationships, it is necessary to be honest when a problem should be confronted, and it is also important to bear with one another, practicing patience and forgiveness.
Be patient with your brothers and sisters. Give them time to grow and mature and learn. Do not expect them to be perfect. Remember that you are far from perfect yourself! Forgive them when they fail, and give them a chance to try again. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Colossians 3:12–14).
Resolve Conflicts Quickly
When conflicts arise between you and your siblings, do all you can to restore your relationship without delay. Humble yourself and admit when you are wrong. Take responsibility for your part of the offense, and ask for forgiveness for your hurtful attitudes, words, and actions. Do what needs to be done to restore your relationship. If necessary, invest the time or other resources required to make restitution.
When a sibling has offended you and comes to ask for your forgiveness, forgive quickly. Do not harbor grudges against one another. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).
Invest in Your “Enemies”
When you give something away, you usually gain deeper appreciation for those who receive your gift. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). One of the secrets of learning to love your enemies is learning to invest something of value in their lives.
At times when you are struggling to get along with a particular brother or sister, consider giving. As you invest in a sibling who seems more like an enemy, you are putting treasure into your relationship, and your affection for your sibling will increase as a result of your loving initiative. Think about what you can give: time, prayer, words of praise, or gifts—things your sibling needs or will enjoy. Maybe you could offer to help him or her with a project or a household chore. When appropriate, giving the gift anonymously can also increase your humility. “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:6, 10).
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. . . . If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (I John 4:7, 20–21).
Thank God for One Another
God has placed you in the family you are in, with the brothers and sisters you have, for a purpose. He knows what you need in this life, and He is providing what you need. Thank Him for it! “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
As your relationships with your brothers and sisters deepen, you will find more and more reasons to thank God for your siblings. When you encounter conflicts and difficulties, trust God to work all things together for your good as you love Him—and as you love your siblings in His name. (See Romans 8:28.) Be patient with one another and aim to consistently demonstrate genuine love to each of your siblings. Remember, they are God’s gifts to you.