Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Siblings: Older Sisters

My older sisters have been incredible blessings in my life. From them I've learned so many things as they've "paved the way" before me. I thank God for each of them!

Yet, the relationships with older sisters can sometimes be hard. You think she's bossy; she thinks you're too persistent. Sisterly squabbles can be none too pleasant! So, what are some ways to avoid annoyances on both ends? I'll share some of what I've learned from my own older sisters, my experience as an older sister, and observances of others.

Love her. It's so important in ever relationship to love unconditionally. They won't always meet your expectations, and you won't meet their's. Love must be the base to overlook each other's shortcomings.

Give her space. I know, when the friend of an older sister comes over, you want to hang out with them! Younger girls naturally want to be around those older and try to act like them. However, your constant presence can be frustrating to the older sister trying to spend personal time with her friend. One thing to do would be to ask your sister before the friend comes which things it would be okay for you to do with them, and then ask before joining in. Games and group activities just aren't as fun without little sisters, but private conversations are preferred to have alone.

Giving her space also carries over the aspect of stuff. Having shared a room for the first 13 years of my life, I know how challenging it can be. If you share a room, always be considerate of the other person's things and never take or use something without asking. Work out specific spaces for you each to keep your own things, and don't snoop snoop into each other's private space! Learn to share things and not get upset if your sister innocently uses something of yours. Also, as a consideration for the other(s) in your room, keep your things neat and orderly. If your older sister has her own room, always knock before going in and give her time alone if she needs it.

Look up to her. Older sisters love it when their younger sisters want to learn from them. They may not always show it, but they're proud to be able to teach something to those younger then them. So, ask! If your sister is an amazing seamstress, cook, organizer, decorator, scrapbooker, etc., ask for help in learning those skills. My own sisters have been so helpful to me by teaching me many varied and useful "tricks of the trade". They always seemed happy to help, and were great examples to me. In return, give them a break by using your new skills, cooking a meal for them or helping them with something you have more expertise in.

Don't compete. One thing that's always hard for older sisters is when their little sister grows and becomes better then them at some skill. Both parties need to show love to the other by not proudly showing off or entertaining feelings of jealousy. As a younger sister, find ways to affirm your older sister. If her interests are different from yours, praise her when she excels in them. If your interests are the same, still praise her for the things she does well. Older sisters often work too hard trying to stay ahead of younger siblings. Do your part to help her feel secure by not trying to displace her or always competing; instead, just do your personal best and affirm her for doing hers.

Listen to her. This can be one of the most challenging things: listening to the multitude of advice your older sister bestows upon you. Yes, older sisters can be bossy at times, and they'll often become little mommas trying to keep everyone in line. But respect her authority as an older sibling, and take her instructions cheerfully. It can be hard - sometimes you have to bite your tongue to keep back a smart remark - but with the Lord's help you can receive her advice graciously. If something she tells you is just not right, respectfully and gently try to reason with her. If you show her respect and a willingness to learn, she's a lot less likely to order you around and a lot more likely to work with you kindly.

Be there for her. Even older sisters need sisterly support. She tries to be strong, but sometimes she needs someone to lean on, a hug or a listening ear. When she needs to let out her problems, be her confidant and keep her disclosures private. Don't spill secrets - if you do, she'll be a lot less likely to trust you. Give her your support and prayers and you'll grow closer together, having a strong sisterly bond that's hard to break.

Let her into your life. Tell your older sister what's going on with you; don't exclude her from your realm of experiences! This is especially important after your sister has moved out of the house - she wants to know what's happening in your day-to-day life! One of the ways I've done this is to write letters or emails to my sisters when they're at college, letting them know what's going on on the home front. Ask their advice on things that you face - they have a wealth of wisdom that is invaluable!

Obviously, for a good relationship to happen, both the older and younger sisters have to work together. Even if your older sister isn't all niceness and love, be kind, love, and respect her anyway. A younger sister can win the older over by being a good example. If your relationship isn't the best, take the initiative even if you're the younger sister and work towards strengthening the bond between you. Sisterly relationships can be the most precious and fun kind of them all!

I've not always been the best sister to my older sisters, as they would be able to attest to! However, I am so thankful for them and try to be a better sister day-by-day. So what about you? What are ways you work to build up your older sister?


Miriam Rebekah said...

This was a great post! Though I don't have an older sister, these are great guidelines for treating your younger sisters as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

Lori Beth said...

Wow, what a convicting post for me. With two younger sisters (3 and 11) it's soooo hard for my to be a good older sister. In fact, I just ten minutes ago my mom was dealing with my younger sister and I. I'll try and remember your wise words next time we get into a spat. Thank you again!

Bethany from Something Greater