Most week nights I get home and I’m probably exhausted from work. I’d generally like nothing more than to crawl into bed and hide from the world. But I know that there is other work that I have to do — family work. To be fair, it’s not work in a demanding sense and it’s far more rewarding. Yet, it is something that five years ago would have been unimaginable.
- Show, don’t tell
Your words have power but your actions determine the extent of the power. If you are known for always promising and never delivering, your words are now empty. Instead of just saying you care, show that you care.
Ask about what is going on in their lives. Don’t feel obligated to talk all the time. Sometimes people just want to be heard.
3. Advise, but don’t compare
When you feel like you’ve experience what they are going through, it can be tempting to compare yourselves to them. That’s not helpful. Generally, your parents have been comparing them to you forever. They get it, but they’ll never be you and maybe that’s a good thing.
4. Take them seriously
If there is a large age gap, their problems can seem trivial. They don’t have the context for conceptualizing them. If you downplay their problems just because they seem small to you, they’ll stop opening up to you.
5. Don’t judge
No one wants to be judged, especially if they are coming to you in good faith for advise. Instead of judging, see how you can make the situation better.
6. Believe them
Listen to their experiences and try to empathize. If you try to problem solve for a situation that you don’t have the full context, you will end up challenging their recollection and making them feel like you don’t believe them.
7. Laugh at their jokes
You don’t have to go overboard, but if they are trying to impress you with humor, it’s ok to laugh.
8. Don’t take them too seriously
Sometimes people say things and are not aware of the impact it has on you. You learn with age to be careful with your words.
9. Don’t blow them off
Many times your siblings look to you and care what you think of them. If you blow them off, they may mistake this for an indication about how much you value them.
10. Be Proactive
Don’t wait for someone else to take the first step. Be proactive in your relationships.
12. Show them that their words have power
If they say something that hurts you, let them know. In doing so, you’ll be teaching them the power of their words.
13. Show them how to respect your parents
Your younger siblings are looking to you to lead the way. Set a strong example for how to treat your parents and they will follow.
14. Let them know when they teach you something
We can all learn from each other and it feels good to know when you’ve taught someone else something. Be sure to let your siblings know when they teach something new.
15. Tell them when you’re proud
Some times we can feel proud and assume they know. Even if they do know, it doesn’t hurt to say it out loud.
16. Own your mistakes
When you mess up, just own it. You set a good tone for the relationship and you show your sibling a good example to follow in life.
17. Saying nothing is sometimes better than saying the wrong thing
You won’t always know what to say. Sometimes it’s okay to say “I’m not sure what to say right now.”