Adult sibling relationships are not always easyto navigate. Especially if you didn’t grow up in the same household, there is a significant age gap, or there have been estrangements in the relationship in the past. All hope is not lost though. Even if you grew up in different homes and in different countries, you could still forage a relationship as adults. Relationships are a two-way street though, so both parties must be interested in having a relationship for one to develop or be maintained. When one party cuts off communication then this article is not for you. This article is intended for adult siblings where both parties want to develop and maintain a healthy relationship. The following are six tips on how to have healthy adult sibling relationships.

1. Communicate.

Communication is the foundation of any relationship. If you don’t communicate there is no relationship. This means that you need to reach out to your siblings and contact them. Call your sister to see how her job is going. Call your brother and ask how his kids are doing. Having actual phone calls and conversations is needed to foster a healthy sibling relationship. If you can have conversations and interactions face to face that it even better!

2. Time.

Spend time together. We all have 24 hours in a day and 7 days a week. We are all busy. If you want to prioritize a relationship, then you make the effort to spend time with that person. Sometimes this requires travel, if you live in different states or parts of the world. Spending time together is how you create bonds because you are creating memories together. If you only communicate via text or phone call, the depth of your relationship is limited. Face-to-face interactions and time spent together is where meaningful relational bonds happen.

3.Create Memories.

Make time together special. If you treat your sibling like a distant friend that you have coffee with every six months, then it difficult to form a deep relationship. If you want to have a meaningful relationship, then take the time to create memories. These memories can be as simple as getting your families together and playing board games. You can go on a vacation together or celebrate a holiday together and exchange gifts. The memories from those experiences can last a lifetime. When people create memories together there is a bonding that is happening. Memories are those experiences which stand out in your mind and you recall in the future. Hopefully your reflections are positive and warm. If you don’t have positive memories of your siblings from the past, then it is time to make some. Your relationship will blossom and grow with each positive memory you create together.  

4. Be a Positive Influence.

One major reason that siblings don’t get along is because there is negativity. Sometimes this is in the form of one sibling constantly criticizing the others. It could also be one sibling has a habit of bringing up the past and things that were done wrong against him or her by their other siblings. When someone is negative it pushes people away. Nobody wants to be around others who make them feel bad about themselves. When you finish up time with a sibling, ask yourself “if I was my sibling, would I feel good about how I treated them when we were together?” Make the effort to be a positive influence, because people like to be around others who make them feel good. Ask your siblings about their lives. Don’t drone on about yourself. You will only come off as self-centered, lacking care and concern for your family members. Take the time to compliment and congratulate your sibling. Did they just get a new job? Congratulate them. Did they just win a tennis tournament? Compliment them on their talent and commitment. Be someone that you would want to be around. This means avoiding criticism and negative messages to your siblings. If you insult your siblings, then you can bet they will avoid you like a plague and keep you at arm’s length. If your siblings avoid you, then its time to reflect on your behavior and actions that may have caused them to not want to be around you.

5. Accept Them Where They are At.

Acceptance is one of the truest forms of love. If you don’t accept a sibling because of their lifestyle, life choices, or mistakes that they have made, then you aren’t loving them. Nobody said you had to like all your sibling’s choices or decisions. However, you must accept them as a person and love them right where they are at. This means you don’t shun people because of their decisions. Maybe your brother is on his fourth marriage. You have been married for 30 years and you don’t like the way he handles his relationships. Here’s the deal. Its not your business. It is not your life. It is his life. He is an adult. His choices are his. Unless he asks for your advice on his situation you should not offer any advice. Accept him where he is at and love him regardless. Invite him to your house to celebrate the holidays, along with his newest wife. Tell him you are happy he has found happiness. If you think its your place to judge or provide unsolicited advice, then you are surely going to damage and potentially destroy that relationship.

6. Forgive and Move Forward.

Forgiveness is powerful. It has the power to heal your heart, as you allow anger, resentment, and hard feelings to be let go. It is up to you though. There are some situations where you will never meet eye to eye with your siblings. Your perception and their perception of the situation is far different. You may be 100% right, but they could be too. Does it matter though in the long run? Is your sense of being right more important than having a relationship with your sibling? Ask yourself that question before you draw a line in the sand demanding that they apologize for the past. You could be setting the relationship up for failure when you make such ultimatums. Can you forgive hurts from the past in your heart and allow yourself to move forward? You have that power and ability, but it is up to you. Sometimes we need to forgive, not for the sake of the other person that has harmed us, but so that we can unburden ourselves of repeated thoughts and feelings that are hostile, angry, and resentful. These negative emotions affect our own well-being more than they affect the other person. Let go of the anger and negativity. Tell yourself you forgive so that you can heal yourself and move forward. The result can be positive for yourself and a possible relationship with your sibling.

You Can Start Today

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. What we can work toward with our adult siblings is healthy, loving, positive relationships that breath life into our lives. Words and actions result in reactions, so be careful what you do and say to your adult siblings. None of us is above being hurt by our family members. How we treat our family affects our relationships, which in turn affects our own quality of life. If we want loving relationships with our family members then we need to make sure we treat them how we would also want to be treated. If you want to be invited for dinners at their home and holiday parties they are hosting, then make sure you are doing the same. Don’t wait for your sibling to pick up the phone to call you. The phone works two ways. You can pick up your phone and call them right now and start building a positive relationship today.