How’s your relationship with your sibling(s)?

How’s your relationship with your sibling(s)?

Jul 24, 2019

Last weekend my three sisters and I went on a staycation at a hotel along Roxas Boulevard. We went to the hotel together, checked in, chatted all day, all night long – until the following day up until it was time to do our noon check out and go back to our respective families.

I’m the youngest of four daughters. We have a one and only favorite brother who happens to be our youngest also. He lives abroad with his family so we only get to be with him during milestone events and visits.

Like most siblings, we grew up both loving and quarreling with each other. One of my mom’s most important parenting lessons that left a mark on me was this, “It’s normal for siblings to quarrel. You may quarrel with each other everyday but at the end of the day, you have each other’s backs.” This made me grow up knowing that arguments are inevitable and probably part of a healthy relationship. And this lesson I really held on to when my own three sons reached that age of quarreling with each other every single day frustrating me to bits. Although I hear some parents say that theirs don’t quarrel that much, I guess my children and I, together with my own siblings, are probably just more stubborn and were allowed to express our respective opinions.

The importance of sibling relationship

Keeping our relationship with our siblings healthy is very important because of the following:

  1. Our siblings are the ones who know our history from childhood. If we need some understanding and people who can tell us things as they are, they are our siblings.
  2. Having grown up together, we share similar physical attributes and values with them, at least, most of the time. This makes it easier for us to relate with them.
  3. It is likely to be the most enduring relationship of our life. Our parents will naturally go before us. Friendships are usually work or environment-related as we tend to be friends with people physically close to us. Given the average viability of marriages these days, our relationships with our siblings are still most likely to be the longest compared to any of the above. Thus, the importance of sibling relationships becomes even greater as we get older.

Do we maximize the potential of our sibling relationship?

Given the above advantages of keeping healthy relationships with our siblings, we almost always don’t exert as much effort to nurture them. We tend to take our relationships with them for granted. We always think that they would understand, “Kapatid naman e. Naiintindihan na nya dapat yon.”

Sometimes, or should I say, oftentimes, money problems get in the way of adult siblings’ relationships. Money issues not openly discussed and settled may get buried and just erupt at the most unexpected time. Sometimes, differences in financial status makes it difficult for siblings to relate comfortably with one another. Still sometimes, some unsettled conflicts make them just avoid each other and not make use of this very important bond that can bring them more joy in life.

How do you categorize your sibling relationship(s)?

According to an article by Michigan State University, these are the five general types of sibling relationships:

  1. Intimate – extremely devoted, placing sibling relationship above all others.
  2. Congenial – close and caring friends, but place a higher value on marriage, parent/child relationships.
  3. Loyal – based on common family history, maintain regular contact, participate in family gatherings and are there in times of crisis.
  4. Apathetic – don’t really feel connected and have infrequent to no contact.
  5. Hostile – based on resentment and anger.

I hope yours are not anywhere under category 3.

Simple things we can do to keep our siblings’ bond healthy

  1. Don’t get stuck in your old childhood roles. Just because one sibling was your youngest errand boy does not mean that you have to continue treating him as one. Just because you were the bossy oldest brother who had to keep order at home while your parents were away means that you could still order everyone around. Forget all those and treat each one not just with sibling care but with dignity.
  2. If you grew up knowing each others’ negative labels (the lazy one, the rebel, the bossy, stubborn one, etc.), try to focus on the more positive ones.
  3. Avoid being judgmental. You will now have different circumstances in life. It’s important that you give loving understanding to each other while balancing it with not enabling any wrong-doing.
  4. Make it easy to update each other of your respective lives. Today’s technology allows us to come up with group chats where we can directly inform each other of our triumphs and challenges – “My son just graduated with honors!” “Please pray for my wife who will undergo a procedure.” or even “I’m craving for Spanish food, is anyone available to join me for dinner?”
  5. Make time to bond. It’s always good to get together and just reminisce over those crazy yesteryears. This makes you realize how different and similar you are to each other.
  6. Let go of old grudge. If you have any, it’s time you talk about it with clear parameters set so as not to worsen the situation. The intention from all parties should be to settle amicably and not to rekindle the conflict. If you need an arbiter, ask other sibling (or trusted person) to join to make sure you achieve your goal.
  7. Set boundaries. If needed, try to make each other aware of each one’s triggers so you avoid unnecessary confrontations or too much exposure to one another.
  8. Celebrate together. If possible, include all family members in your celebrations and get to know everyone in your growing family – your nephews, nieces, etc.
  9. For parents of young children, start them off young
    1. Teach them how to respect individuality.
    2. Encourage them to play together.
    3. Involve them in projects together to practice being a team.
    4. Encourage trust by giving them opportunities to help each other.
    5. Provide good example by showing them how to deal with your own siblings.

Our siblings could indeed become our protectors or tormentors. And it’s really up to us which one we want to play up.



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Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook & YouTube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom. Her latest book is FQ: The nth Intelligence.


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