8 Ways to Be a Better Sibling …

As the oldest of seven children, sharing a life with siblings is nothing new to me. Though we fought and carried on the way brothers and sisters do, I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world. After me, there is Joshua, Andrew, Rebekah, Anna, Philip and Jesse - yes, the girls were outnumbered, which was fine with me since we all had to share a room! Though I love them all, I'm actually closest to my brother Andrew, who just turned 18 and is serving in the Coast Guard. For some reason, we just "click" a little more, you know? Anyhow, throughout the years, I've learned ways to better myself as a sibling and wish to share these with you today.

1. Listen

There is nothing like having that someone who you can call for just about anything, and know that they're going to listen to you and tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. Brothers and sisters have a way with being brutally honest with each other while still showing that they love you. That's how it is with Andrew and myself. No matter what the subject, I know that he's going to be completely honest with his opinion on it and tell me everything. Many times, we end up knowing more about each other than even our parents know about us. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

2. Practice Confidentiality

It's best to know that what your sibling tells you, unless they make it clear that you can tell others, to just keep it to yourself. As I said in the last point, it's great to know we have someone we can talk to. However, it's even better to know that that person is going to keep what you tell them to theirself. Unless there is an instance where your sibling reveals something that could be life-threatening, it's best to keep what you know quiet, so as to build trust between you and your brother or sister.

3. Be on Both Sides

What I mean by this is simple. Be to them what they are to you. It's the best brother/sister relationship (or sister/sister) where one is leans on the other for support when they need it and the roles are reversed when the strong one needs support as well. I find it bothersome to see some siblings where the one leans on the other for everything, but is never there when they're needed to be the strong one. Just as in marriage, it's a give/give relationship. That's the way it should be.

4. Don't over-advise

Advice is good, and should be shared between siblings. And yet, some siblings seem to take this part much too seriously, and become more or less a nagger. This does nothing but push your sibling away. It's their life, you know. Offer advice when it is definitely needed, and the rest of the time, let them live life the way they want to. Keep the individuality alive in your sibling relationship.

5. Have Fun

Cherish the moments you have together — they won't be here forever. I never thought my brother would live hours and hours away from me, where I couldn't see him all the time. While I am proud of him and the work he is doing for our country, I miss the time we used to spend together. I miss hearing him joke and cut up around the table at Mom and Dad's. I miss the playful banter we used to throw back and forth. Sure, we talk on the phone, but it isn't the same. So, if your sibling is still local and you see them all the time, cherish that! Go do fun things together. Take trips together. Make sure that you make every second count! You'll regret it if you don't!

6. Avoid Hurtful Remarks

Even our most loved family members can do things to hurt us sometimes. The problem comes in when we respond to that hurt with more hurtful words and actions. Just because your brother or sister is in the wrong for something doesn't mean that you have to hurt back. Take the high road and keep all those ugly words to yourself. Your relationship is worth more than a few choice words. Forgive and be forgiven to preserve your relationship for years to come. If you must say something, make sure to do so in a way that will be taken with the right spirit. Make sure they know that you're saying these things out of love and not hate. And above all, make sure they know that you accept them for who they are, even with their mistakes, after all, we all make them, right?

7. Set an Example

I've seen it too many times. An older sibling will do things the wrong way, will make the wrong choices in life and end up in a mess, and then, they'll get upset at their younger brother or sister for following in their footsteps. It's high time we realize that our younger brothers and sisters are watching us. They want to be just like us. So, don't make the wrong choices. Watch the crowd you run with, be careful the choices you make. Set an example that you would be proud to watch your sibling follow after you. Never in your entire life will you be so proud again! (Until you have kids that make the same good choices, that is!)

Having siblings is incredibly fun! I have many fond memories of the childish games and fun we had growing up. We didn't have a television or all the fancy gaming systems people have today. All we had was each other, some books, a couple board games and outdoors, but we managed to have a fun-filled childhood filled with lots of love and laughter. What more can a kid ask for? As I continue to learn to better myself as a sibling, I hope you can learn from these tips and better yourself as a great sibling! You'll never regret it, I promise!

Top Photo Credit: cartoondollemporium.com