To have the happiest possible family life adult siblings need to get along. Here are a few reasons why these relationships are vitally important.
1. It will be one of the best gifts you can give your parents
Every parent wants their children to love each other and get along. Nothing brings heartache quite like adult children who don't want to be around their siblings. We can understand bickering among young siblings, but growing up and gaining some maturity should bring most of that to an end. If there is rivalry and feelings of jealousy, it's good to sit down with each other and talk about it.
An adult woman told us how she was certain her parents loved her younger brother more, consequently causing her to have bad feelings toward him and her parents. When we talked with the parents about this, without the children being present, they were surprised. They had tried to be fair with their children. As it turned out the younger brother was gifted musically and the parents would praise him for his talent. His older sister's talents were less noticeable. However, the parents assured us they worked at doing their best to give their daughter equal opportunity to discover her talents and praised her often. Siblings usually aren't aware of all the parents do to help each child feel valued. The children's perceptions can be skewed and invalid.
Take your parents' praise as adults and don't compare yourself with your siblings. Be mature and wise enough to find joy in your sibling's accomplishments.
2. When your parents are elderly and need care, you won't be alone
We have witnessed in our own lives how valuable it has been to have the help of siblings in caring for aging parents. You can discuss the hard questions and decide together what's best for parents who may be losing their ability to care for themselves. Taking turns being there for your parents is a blessing. When one child has to do it alone, it can be burdensome. When two or more are sharing the responsibility, it can be more pleasant for everyone. Parents need to feel that their children care about them and find a measure of happiness in helping them. That's hard to portray if you're the only one helping.
Talk about it together. Even if a sibling lives far away, talk about ways each can contribute to the care in a way that works for all concerned. The day will come when your parents are gone, and the peace you feel from caring for them will be a sweet memory.
Your parents will not always be with you. After they have left this life, your needs for parental concern and love do not stop. Sometimes you may say, "If only I could talk this over with Dad or Mom." That's when you find that having a sibling who cares is a great blessing. You will need each other more than you might imagine. If relationships have not been nurtured through the years it may be difficult to rely on each other during this time. A friend expressed it this way: "My own sister had surgery and needed someone there with her for a few days. Our mother would have been the one, had she still been alive. Because of the love I feel for my sister, I wanted to be there for her like Mom would have been. So I flew out and stayed with her for a week until she was feeling better. It meant everything to her and to me."
Keep in touch with each other and sincerely care about what's going on in your sibling's life.
4. Your children need a good relationship with their aunts and uncles
Your siblings can bring a lot of joy into your family. It will be difficult for your children to fully enjoy their aunts and uncles if they sense friction. Don't ruin what can be a beautiful relationship between your children and your siblings. Having aunts, uncles and cousins who care is significantly important to children, no matter the age.
Plan events where you and your children can be with your siblings and their children. Let them feel the security being loved by these dear relatives can bring. They may be the very ones who help your child through a difficult time when you simply can't handle it.
5. It will bring peace into your life
An older man told how much he valued the loving friendship he had with his two elder brothers. They spoke almost weekly on the phone, sharing in each other's struggles and accomplishments. They were not always this close, but at one point he decided to deepen the relationship by initiating the calls. The brothers welcomed these conversations. He was near his brothers when each passed away from terminal illnesses. It brought a sweet peacefulness into his life that he may have missed had he not started the calls.
Call your siblings. Be interested in what they're doing. Chances are, as their children grow and have their own families, they feel lonely at times and could use a good listening ear from someone who genuinely cares.
Regarding sibling relationships, Clara Ortega sums it up well: "To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."