“My girls were just not allowed to fight.”
I would often hear my mom say that phrase when asked if we, her two daughters, fought a lot growing up. I would watch the “yeah, right” look on their face when she would say that, because to many the words ‘siblings’ and ‘fighting’ are synonymous.
But they weren’t in our house.
I know we bickered and had our moments, like the time my four-year-old little sister smeared the smelliest diaper cream all over my beloved Raggedy Ann doll (who was never the same after that day), but regular fighting was simply not allowed.
In hindsight, I recognize many things my parents did to nurture our sibling relationship, one that I am grateful to have with my sister to this day.
Nurturing Sibling Relationships
There are a few things things I think play a huge role in nurturing sibling relationships from what I experienced growing up. Now that I am also raising two daughters, I am trying to foster a close relationship between them because I know firsthand how amazing it is to have a close relationship with a sibling.
Please chime in below with your experiences. I love to hear other points of view!
Doesn’t everyone truly just want a little respect (no joke intended!)? I believe the same goes for our kids. Everyone wants to feel as if their thoughts and feelings are important; that they matter.
When my girls are in a tiff I try to teach them to respect where the other is coming from by explaining the other’s point-of-view, right or wrong.
And in those times when they are having a hard time getting along, I often remind them,
“You are SISTERS which is one of the most special things in the entire world, because it is something only the two of you share. No one else. You LOVE each other like crazy. Always remember that.”
No matter how MAD they are at each other in that moment, this little reminder can always soften their stance. It is my hope that with this reminder they learn to have respect for their relationship.
Sticks and Stones…
Whoever came up with that one?! So not true! WORDS HURT. Name calling hurts. Negative labeling hurts. Which is why I am really strict about the words they say to each other in anger.
Just like a marriage relationship must be worked on and nourished, a sibling relationship can be looked at in the same way.
If spouses are continually bickering, calling each other names, fighting, criticizing each other…what do you think that does to the marriage? Make it stronger? All that negativity chips away at the relationship, it doesn’t build it up or nourish it.
I believe the same goes for siblings. Fighting and name calling break down the relationship; kindness and love make it stronger.
My girls don’t have to agree, but they can never be mean or nasty to each other.
In our house, it is not okay to yell, “You’re mean!”
It is okay to say, “I don’t like it when you ………!”
They can’t can’t yell “YOU’RE (insert negative name)!” or “YOU (insert nasty name)!”
Just the other day I overheard my oldest telling her sister in frustration,”You’re so annoying!!” Which was in fact a new one I hadn’t heard her use before. Likely her sister was being annoying, but still, I didn’t like it.
I called both girls out and said, “Hey! Hey! Hey! In our family we don’t call each other names or describe each other with a word that is unkind. When you say, ‘you’re annoying’ – is that a nice way to describe your sister?”
“That’s right, it’s a hurtful comment and it’s not okay. You can ask your sister to stop what she’s doing or come ask me for help, but it’s not okay to say that to your sister.”
Mumbled,”OK, sorry Mommy…”
Now that I am a parent, I have to thank my parents for their part in making our relationship what it is today.
I cherish the fact that my sister is the only one in this lifetime who shares the same early childhood experiences and history – that really IS special.
And as we walk through this life together, we need each other, in good times, but especially in the bad. When really hard times come, we are there for each other to share the burden, and that is priceless.
That is us at last week’s Katy Perry concert. My sister got tickets and asked me to go with her. As I was getting ready to go, I told my girls I was going to the concert with my sister, and I hoped someday years from now they would be all grown up and be able to get baby-sitters for their kids so they could go out to a concert together too.
You don’t chose your family, but you can chose to make the best of the relationship. And as a parent, I believe we have a lot more power than we might think in the type of relationship our children have with each other.