My siblings and I (there are 5 of us) are all best friends, even though we’re all grown now. Sure, we don’t hang out as much as we used to, and I have a sister who lives a few hours away in Boise, but we all manage to keep in contact with one another via phone calls, family gatherings, and just plain keeping an avid interest in each other’s lives. Here are the do’s and don’ts of getting along with your siblings when you’re all grown up.
Don’t ever loan money. This just causes contention between siblings. My brother tends to be a job-hopper who calls every now and then for a few bucks, but I decline every time. This way, I don’t get angry with him for not paying me back, and he gets the incentive to keep his current job. I also don’t recommend allowing your sibling to join a cell phone plan with you, and don’t ever co-sign for a loan unless you anticipate being the sole carrier of getting it paid off. Sometimes it hurts to see your siblings struggle, but you keep resentment at bay when you just stay out of financial affairs.
Try to get along with your siblings’ spouses and significant others. If they complain about their spouses a lot, be open minded and try not to jump on the bandwagon. They may just be venting, so when you admit you think their husband is a jerk and they decide to get over their own issues, they may hold it against you that you said something negative about their loved one. Listen, but keep your personal opinions at bay to keep a healthy relationship with your siblings.
Acknowledge your niece’s and nephew’s birthdays. You may be busy with your own life and your own kids, but at least send a card when special occasions come around.
Don’t neglect your younger siblings. I have a 19 year old sister who’s in college, and I text her daily just to see how she’s doing. She’s a busy gal, but never too busy to send me a smiley face to let me know all is well.
Get those impromptu gatherings going. We all try to have a picnic or BBQ or family game night at least once a month or so. We have to schedule them way in advance to make sure we can all make it, but we get them done.
You’re never too busy for a phone call. My sister who lives far away works nights and has her kids to care for, so she rarely answers her phone, but I call her at least weekly in hopes of catching her. If not, I leave her a message that I love her and she calls me back eventually. You have to stay in touch.
Stop by your siblings’ homes randomly. My sister who lives a few towns away is also busy with school and full-time work, so I drop by often just to bring her a snack and a little bit of company. My brother often drops by my house late at night and we chill until the wee hours of the morning. These little things mean a lot.
When your siblings come into town, open up your home to them. Don’t make them stay in a hotel while they’re visiting. Even though all we have available is a couch, when my sister and her husband and kids drop in, they stay at everybody’s house at least one night, and everybody gathers at each other’s houses to hang out while they’re there. It’s common that my sister stays at my mom’s house one night, my dad’s the next, then my house, my sister’s, then my brother’s.
Celebrate holidays a few weeks early so nobody has to worry about fitting in a visit when they have in-laws and their own celebrations to worry about. My family always celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas early so we get to see siblings for our holiday who are always obligated to their in-laws for the actual holiday days.
Visit your siblings who are away in college, especially when they’re nearby. My youngest sister is about an hour and a half away, and we drop in at least once a month, all packing into my mom’s van and ambushing her on weekends. She loves it, and even her roommates have learned who we each are by name.
Love your siblings even if you don’t agree with their lifestyle. My siblings couldn’t stand me when I drank all the time, but they still hung out with me. I have a brother who smokes, but we don’t hold it against him. Everyone is different, and if they raise their kids different than you, or they keep their house trashed and you don’t, it’s no excuse to avoid them.
Don’t hold petty things against one another. I have a sister who is a real negative Nellie, and if she can find something to complain about she’s all over it, but I just bite my tongue. My sister in Boise tends to make plans and then fall through with them when I’ve rearranged my schedule to accommodate her, but that’s just how she is. I’m sure I have things I do that make my siblings just plain irritated, but they let it go as well. Don’t hold a grudge over stupid stuff.
If you just plain can’t stand your siblings’ significant others, get over it. Unless their spouse or significant other is just plain rude to your face, there’s no reason to ignore your sibling because of it. If your sibling loves who they’re with, and you just hate their loved one, that’s your problem, not theirs. Be a grown up and get along.
Above all, just plain keep in touch. These are the kids you grew up with, and you may have your differences, but there is no reason to not include them in your life now that you’re all grown. You should never be too busy to give your siblings a call or drop by. It is well worth the effort.