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Sister to Sister: 12 Ways to Build a Better Relationship
Dedication to my sister: Danette Watt
This hub is dedicated to hubber: Danette Watt for all the obvious reasons…and then some.
I received a birthday card today from my sister. My birthday is tomorrow. I have only one sister, and she is like that: prompt, punctual, and organized. We are as different as the sun and moon. Yes, we both shine down from the sky, but one has a glare that can sometimes be blinding, (that would be me), and the other has a soft, glow that lights the path, but often goes unnoticed.
It wasn’t the card that prompted this hub. I’ve been contemplating my relationship with my sister for some time now. We are sandwiched in between two sets of older brothers and younger brothers. We had to depend and defend together.
Two Generations of Sisters
Sibling rivalry: competition and jealousy
“Sisters are probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” Margaret Mead.
Anthropologist, Margaret Mead has some wise words about sisterhood. I don’t know if Danette and I were competitive, because we carefully carved independent social circles. It makes it less intrusive when you don’t have the other observing all that happens…ready to tattletale or blackmail. But, I do recall being jealous of her-more than once. My competitive spirit was wrapped around the belief that our parents could have a favorite. I was NOT the favorite, in my immature perspective.
Danette was born, as I recall, like a ‘china doll’. I can still vividly recall a photo of her dark hair, fair skin, deep blue eyes and chipmunk cheeks. She was...well, ‘perfect’. Two years younger than me, I was probably not consciously aware of feeling dethroned, but dethroned I was. I was the only female child with two older brothers until then, mind you.
But, I was smart, too, and manipulative, again, without conscious awareness. Looking back, I can see how I tried to be nice because I learned that pleased the King. The King being my father, whose undivided attention I had all to myself until she came along. If the King thought I was being nice I would get some praise. But, when we were alone, I could take whatever I wanted from her-she being so much smaller. Ah, but, then the King would find out and I would be in trouble for being unkind.
How to develop a friendship with your sister
Vikki Stark, author of My Sister, Myself surveyed 400 women about the relationship with their sisters. The results and testimonials, along with key points about this special sibling bond, were presented in this eye opening book in 2006.
Somewhere along the way I learned that my sister, Danette, really was my friend. We shared many common interests, besides the memories and history of our childhood. We both love reading and writing. We both have an interest in the mystery of life and our purpose here, and we both share a motherhood bond. We learned from each other, sometimes good, sometimes not so. Although I am the older sister, she was the one who taught me to swear like a sailor. Oh, and in case anyone has any doubts, she was a W.A.V.E. And, she was the first one to introduce me to country music: Crystal Gayle: Don’t it make my brown eyes blue.
Memories of growing up with a sister
When we were growing up, we did a lot of funny things, like the time we watched the movie: White Christmas, starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. As kids do with corny scenes, we laughed at the large fan costumes that sisters, Betty and Judy Haynes, played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, used during their ‘sister act’. Then, on my prompting, we reenacted it with huge bamboo fans mom used for wall decorations. We could never get through it without breaking up with laughter. Our ‘Broadway’ act was called, ‘The Singing Sisters’.
Sisters Video from White Christmas
Gratitude for my Sister
I am fortunate that I have a close bond with my sister and feel sad when I hear other women who reveal that theirs is difficult or estranged. I cannot imagine not having someone to share my secrets, (yes even at this age), sadness and joy with, the way I can with her. And, I’m happy to know that my own two daughters share a similar love and affection for each other.
So, I contemplated what suggestions I would offer, if one wanted to mend the fences and build a better sister relationship. Here are a dozen that I hope you will find helpful.
How to improve your relationship with your sister
1. Admit to yourself that you do want a closer relationship, regardless of any fear of rejection. Explore where you feel the conflict is: jealousy, competition, childhood issues.
2. Ask your sister if she is interested in being friends, not just tolerating a family made relationship.
3. Change your perspective: be open minded, remember: it takes two to quarrel; whatever has happened in the past is the past-if you cannot get over it, seek some professional counseling; you can only control your own behavior and emotions, not hers; and keep your focus on your issues-not your sister’s flaws, by your standards.
4. Start small-make changes that you can handle successfully. You will gain confidence as the relationship blossoms in a positive way.
5. Keep expectations low-don’t expect your sister to warm up from a cold relationship overnight.
6. Be patient-it took years and negative situations to grow apart and it will take some time and patience to move it back together.
7. Communicate your needs clearly-don’t revert back to communicating as the girls you were, talk to your sister with respect-mature woman to mature woman; don’t get sucked into old hurts, refocus and stay in the present moments issues; do not use manipulation, sarcasm, or passive-aggressive communication.
8. Identify your feelings or actions as ‘I’ statements, and let your sister know what you like and enjoy.
9. Respect your sister for who she is. She may have very different ways of doing things, but it doesn’t mean it is right or wrong-just different.
10. Don’t try to control or fix her, her life, etc. If she does not ask for advice, don’t give it. The goal is friendship. Also, if you are a ‘problem’ child, don’t expect your sibling to fix your life or rescue you.
11. Use a professional therapist if you cannot get past childhood hurts or damage caused by your sister, such as betrayal.
12. Treat each other as friends, not rivals. Set a date to spend a lunch together, it’s a start.
A Word of Thanks to my sister
Thanks, Danette, for being a great sister all of these years; for putting up with my clutter when we shared a room at the old family house; and for accepting all of my quirks, even when you didn’t necessarily understand them. I love you.
For My Sister
Other 'Sister' hubs by Hubpages Hubbers
- My sister and best friend
A poem for sister's everywhere. Sisters are very precious and we must never undervalue them.