Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Q. I have three siblings who are scattered across the country. Since college we have drifted away from each other. We’ve all been busy with our own families and careers. In recent years we’ve hardly even seen or talked to each other. Our parents passed away seven years ago and since then we have no reason to get together. I miss the connections we once had and I wish we were closer. Does this disconnection happen with most adult siblings? How can I change things?

A. Relationships with siblings can last longer than all other relationships but it is often a relationship that is taken for granted, ignored and neglected. Often the interaction between siblings is negligible. This is especially true after parents have passed away and no longer are the reason to see each other. 

Our ties to our parents carry a different emotional weight and a different sense of responsibility than our ties to our siblings. We know we must see and connect with our parents on some regular basis as they age. Perhaps this is because we know we will eventually lose them.

Sibling ties are different. We don’t expect to lose them - at least not for a long time.  Distance contributes to our lack of contact. We also may carry competitive or jealous feelings toward our siblings. Or even resentment. We may have been hurt by our siblings, or seen them as loved more by Mom or Dad. We may wonder why they are so different from us even though they were raised in the same home. We wonder why he isn’t more successful. Or why she lets her kids get by with so much. We need to realize that even in the same family there can be vast personality differences, some inborn. We also have had different influences in life which have given us differing political views, differing values and even differing faiths. We may keep our distance for all these reasons.

Society also doesn’t expect a close connection with siblings. It’s almost a voluntary relationship. It’s different than the parent/child relationship or the relationship with a spouse. These relationships carry responsibility for each other. 

Though all of this is reason for the distance, we are missing some valuable relationships and their benefits if we neglect to connect with our siblings. Our siblings are the only people who have known us all or most of our life. They share a family history which no one else does. We can laugh about childhood memories together and also gain a new perspective on our family by talking with our siblings. Another reason to stay in touch with siblings is so cousins will know their aunts and uncles and cousins. Don’t deprive your children of these special relationships.

There is a gender difference in the connections siblings maintain with each other.  Sisters are more tuned into how necessary it is to nurture a relationship and so they usually do stay in touch. Brothers often do not stay in touch with their siblings and need to be pursued.

Here are some things you can do to connect with your siblings:
1.  Reach out to your siblings by letter, e-mail or telephone on a regular basis.  Show an interest in their life and what they’re doing. The social media is also a way to stay in touch.

2.  Invite your siblings to visit you or plan a family reunion. If possible, plan to see each sibling at least once a year.

3.  If the distance has been due to resentment or past conflict talk things over, forgive each other, and let it go.

4.  Solve any current problems as quickly as possible by communicating about these issues. 

5.  Avoid competing, arguing or proving your point. Be loving and humble.

6.  Show your love by being a good listener and by reaching out to help in times of need. 

The Bible asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I believe the answer is “Yes.”

On a personal note:  I began calling my oldest sister regularly when one of her sons became tragically ill. I wanted to support her through this. He passed away a year later and I continued to call her weekly. Some time later I also began calling my younger sister weekly. These calls have blessed each of us tremendously. We also see each other yearly. Take the initiative and keep in touch with your siblings.

“Be devoted to one another in love; give preference to one another in honor.” Romans 12:10

Blessings, Dottie

No comments:

Post a Comment